Palestine Legal is providing advocacy support for San Francisco State University (SFSU) professor Rabab Abdulhadi, who together with SFSU, was sued for speech supporting Palestinian rights.
On March 9, 2018, a federal court in San Francisco dismissed a lawsuit against SFSU and Abdulhadi for scholarship and advocacy on Palestine. The lawsuit was first filed in June 2017 by the Lawfare Project, a right-wing anti-Palestinian organization with an avowed mission of inflicting massive punishments against critics of Israel and sought to block research and speech supporting Palestinian rights at SFSU.
In dismissing Lawfare’s complaint, the court noted that the lawsuit was “full of barely relevant material” and did “not state a plausible claim for relief.”
The court threw out all of Lawfare’s claims, including claims that speech critical of Israeli policies violated Jewish students’ First Amendment rights, their right to equal protection and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The judge gave the plaintiffs an opportunity to rethink their claims and re-file the suit.
The lawsuit culminates a years-long suppression campaign involving years of harassment against campus activists by Israel advocacy groups. Plaintiffs argued that Abdulhadi’s research in Palestine and her efforts to establish a partnership with the Palestinian An-Najah University, a 2016 student protest of the mayor of Jerusalem, and a 2017 know your rights fair organized by a coalition of students and administrators have created a hostile environment for Jewish students at SFSU. Federal courts and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights have consistently held that speech critical of a nation’s policies is protected under the First Amendment and does not constitute harassment.
After the judge announced at a November 2017 hearing that he planned to dismiss the case, the Lawfare Project filed a second lawsuit in California state court alleging that SFSU violated state anti-discrimination laws by allowing student speech for Palestinian rights.
Abdulhadi is represented by Mark Kleiman, Behnam Gharagozli and Gavin Cunningham & Hunter. SFSU is represented by Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP.
- Lawfare Complaint (filed June 19, 2017)
- Abdulhadi Press Release Describing Defense of Lawsuit (August 21, 2017)
- Abdulhadi Motion To Dismiss (filed August 21, 2017)
- Abdulhadi Motion To Strike (filed August 21, 2017)
- SFSU Motion To Dismiss (filed August 21, 2017)
- SFSU Motion To Strike (filed August 21, 2017)
- Lawfare First Amended Complaint (FAC) (filed August 21, 2017)
- Abdulhadi Motion To Dismiss FAC (filed September 14, 2017)
- SFSU Motion To Dismiss FAC (filed September 14, 2017)
- SFSU Motion To Strike FAC (filed September 14, 2017)
- Jewish Studies Scholars Amicus Brief (filed October 25, 2017)
- Transcript of Nov. 8 Hearing
- Order Dismissing Case (filed March 9, 2018)
Letters of Support for Professor Rabab Abdulhadi
- California Faculty Association Resolution in Defense of Academic Freedom for Professor Abdulhadi (November 2017)
- Middle East Studies Association Letter to SFSU President Wong, (June 29, 2017)
- Petition of Scholars and Students to SFSU President Wong
- Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish Caucus Statement in Support of Professor Rabab Abdulhadi Against Censorship Campaigns (August 23, 2017)
- Feminist Statement in Support of Professor Rabab Abdulhadi (August 2017)
- Jewish Community Statement of Support for Professor Rabab Abdulhadi (July 14, 2017)
- California Scholars for Academic Freedom Letter to President Wong (June 28, 2017)
- Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine Letter to SFSU President Wong and CSU Board of Trustees (July 8, 2017)
- US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel Statement in Support of Professor Rabab Abdulhadi
- National Lawyers Guild International Committee Statement in Support of Professor Rabab Abdulhadi (August 15, 2017)
- United Auto Workers Local 2865 Letter of Support for Professor Rabab Abdulhadi
- Samidoun statement of solidarity with Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi
- Veteran Participants of the 1968-69 Student Strike at SFSU Issue Letter of Support to Dr. Abdulhadi
More from Palestine Legal about the case
- Lawsuit Against SFSU Is Culmination of Years-Long Suppression Campaign Targeting Palestine Advocacy
- SFSU’s Motion to Dismiss and Strike “Lawfare” Suit are Worth the Read
- Prominent Jewish Studies Scholars File Amicus in Support of SFSU and Dr. Abdulhadi
Select Media Coverage
- Unfounded Charges of Antisemitism at SF State Protect No One, David Spero, SF Examiner, (October 19, 2017)
- The spirit of ’68 lives on! Palestine advocacy and the indivisibility of justice, Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, Mondoweiss, (July 14, 2017)
- Struggling for justice at San Francisco State University, Saliem Shehadeh, Mondoweiss, (July 13, 2017)
- No Sanctuary for Palestinian Scholarship, Diana Block, Counterpunch, (May 20, 2017)
- Lawyer Who Says Palestinians Don’t Exist Sues San Francisco University, Charlotte Silver, Electronic Intifada, (June 23, 2017)
- Free speech or hate speech? Campus debates over victimhood put universities in a bind, Washington Post, (October 20, 2017)