ADC Scandal Raises Concerns for PSLS

Credit: Active Stills

Credit: Active Stills

PSLS on Campus Activism Panel at ADC National Convention; Writes ADC expressing continued concerns about sexual harassment scandal

On Friday, June 13, PSLS Staff Attorney Radhika Sainath will present with three student activists on a panel entitled Activism on College Campuses: How to Build the Movement In A Climate of Repression? The panel will focus on how activists are targeted for their Palestinian human rights advocacy, and best practices in campus organizing.

PSLS agreed to participate on the panel.  The panel participants, however, made clear in a letter to ADC President Samer Khalaf that there are deep and continuing concerns with the way ADC handled repeated sexual harassment allegations from a number of women who worked in ADC’s Michigan office against its former director, Imad Hammad.  The letter criticizes ADC’s problematic handling of the complaints, and the way that the women who came forward were publicly shamed instead of supported and strengthened. It also informs ADC that “A part of our panel will be dedicated to discussing the importance of this issue, and how we approach gender and power dynamics in our activist and legal work.”

In reference to a letter that ADC President Khalaf wrote to members apologizing to the women harmed and announcing programming at the Convention directly addressing the issue, the letter reads, in part:

Your June 11, 2014 letter was a long overdue apology and acknowledgment of ADC’s destructive role in compounding the suffering that the women who came forward experienced.  We are encouraged to see that the ADC plans to work on educational programming relating to sexual harassment, including at the Convention.

Unfortunately, this will not undo what has been done, and it will not make whole the many women who were victimized by Imad Hammad, and doubly hurt by ADC’s inaction and insensitivity.  We therefore urge you to revisit the demands made by community members and address them in good faith and with full honesty and vigor.  We also urge continued open and transparent discussion of this issue both within the organization and in the Arab-American community at large.  It is only with such exposure that we can collectively prevent and adequately confront such behavior, and the gender and power relationships that accompany it.

We believe ADC can and must play an important role in the Arab-American community on this issue, but to do so, it must fully come to terms with this damaging episode and be fully transparent about its past and current efforts to overcome it.

Read the full letter here.