Prominent Jewish Studies Scholars File Amicus in Support of SFSU and Dr. Abdulhadi

Top: Hasia Diner (L), Ari Y. Kelman (C), Daniel Boyarin (R). Bottom: Charles Manekin (L), Barry Trachtenberg (C), Marjorie Feld (R). 

Top: Hasia Diner (L), Ari Y. Kelman (C), Daniel Boyarin (R). Bottom: Charles Manekin (L), Barry Trachtenberg (C), Marjorie Feld (R). 

On October 25, six prominent Jewish Studies scholars asked the court for permission to file an amicus brief opposing the Lawfare Project’s baseless lawsuit against defendants Professor Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and San Francisco State University (SFSU). The professors write in support of the defendants’ motion asking the court to dismiss the case. They explain that the lawsuit’s allegations of antisemitism are an attempt to silence advocates for Palestinian rights. 

The professors object to the Lawfare Project’s reliance on the discredited "State Department definition" of antisemitism, which wrongly equates political criticism of Israel with antisemitism. They lay out why the State Department definition is overly expansive, and has no place on campus as a speech code. The brief emphasizes that even the author of the definition opposes its application to campuses in the United States.

Professors Daniel Boyarin of University of California, Berkeley, Hasia Diner of New York University, Marjorie Feld of Babson College, Ari Y. Kelman of Stanford University, Charles Manekin of University of Maryland, and Barry Trachtenberg of Wake Forest University authored the amicus brief. David Mandel, a member of the National Lawyers Guild and Jewish Voice for Peace, served as Counsel for Amici.

The brief argues:

The attempt by The Lawfare Project to limit critical discourse on Israel and challenges of its supporters’ views is detrimental to public debate. Ironically, it serves only to once again affirm the antisemitic belief that Jews are fundamentally different: that the Jewish state cannot be protested or objected to, that collective Jewish power cannot be analyzed or debated, or that Jews, because they were once victims of one of humanity’s greatest genocidal crimes, are somehow immune from becoming perpetrators of acts of violence against other peoples.

Moreover, and perhaps most dangerously of all, attempts to broaden the definition of antisemitism to encompass phenomena that are clearly not anti-Jewish can only make it more difficult to recognize, isolate and oppose actual antisemitic hatred when it really does appear.

The Lawfare case against SFSU will be heard in federal court on Wednesday, November 8, where Judge Orrick of the Northern District of California is expected to make a ruling on defendants’ motion to dismiss. Follow @Pal_Legal for updates.

For more on the Lawfare suit against Dr. Abdulhadi and SFSU, see Palestine Legal’s case page.