Victory! Lawsuit Against SFSU and Abdulhadi Dismissed


Federal Judge Permanently Throws Out Lawfare Project’s Case Against Professor Rabab Abdulhadi and San Francisco State University

San Francisco – Yesterday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Professor Rabab Abdulhadi and San Francisco State University (SFSU) that had sought to compel the university to restrict the speech of students and faculty who support Palestinian freedom.

The case, Mandel v. Board of Trustees, was first filed in June 2017 by the Lawfare Project, a right-wing anti-Palestinian organization with an explicit plan to “inflict massive punishments” against critics of Israel. Having dismissed an earlier version of the lawsuit in March 2018, Judge William Orrick III this time dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning the lawsuit cannot be filed again.

The lawsuit is part of a years-long campaign of harassment against campus activists and Abdulhadi, an outspoken scholar and advocate for justice in and for Palestine.

“The unfounded and malicious nature of this bogus suit against Dr. Abdulhadi is now clear for all to see. This has disrupted nearly two years of her life and her work for justice in Palestine, which is the purpose of ‘lawfare,’” explained Abdulhadi’s attorney, Mark Kleiman.

“This ruling vindicates Dr. Abdulhadi from the anti-Palestinian smear campaigns that she has been forced to endure,” noted Abdulhadi’s attorney, Ben Gharagozli.

Dr. Abdulhadi commented, “The white supremacist shootings in Pittsburgh and Kentucky over the past few days are but the most recent reminders of how deadly racism, intolerance and bigotry against Jews, Muslims, Blacks, and immigrants can be. We need to fight all forms of racism together. Our individual safety is bound up with our communities. Teaching and advocating for justice in/for Palestine is a crucial ingredient to achieving justice for all.”

Judge Orrick repeatedly emphasized that the Lawfare Project’s complaint is “devoid” of facts alleging discrimination. He wrote, “Absolutely no facts have been alleged to support their mere assertion of differential treatment.”

“The Lawfare Project had three chances and a team of corporate lawyers. But they did not have any facts. It is an abuse of the courts to bully Palestinian scholars and students, and scare administrators into silencing campus debate. Judge Orrick rejected Lawfare’s attempt to equate calls for justice with discrimination,” explained Liz Jackson, attorney with Palestine Legal.

Abdulhadi is represented by Mark Kleiman, Ben Gharagozli and Gavin Cunningham & Hunter. SFSU is represented by Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. For more background, see Palestine Legal’s case summary.

The written decision is here.