"Ending capitalism, that is the ultimate solution," preached Rabab Abdulhadi, the radical, Israel-hating San Francisco State University associate professor of ethnic studies. Throughout the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel's (USCACBI) June 30 webinar, she and other professors pilloried Israel as an outpost of Western colonial oppression.
Pitzer College anthropology professor and Zoom host Daniel Segal's introduction set the stage for the webinar's repetitive droning. He began with the now ubiquitous virtue-signaling land acknowledgement that California's Pitzer College "continues the project of settler-colonialism" with the "occupation of indigenous land." The wider "Claremont Colleges must seek to resist, disturb and work through this settler-colonial facet of racial-capitalism," as well as "its devaluing of black lives, to reach a future defined by restorative social justice." Pivoting via intersectionality to the webinar's topic, he asserted that Pitzer is "complicit also in Israeli state apartheid, occupation and ethnic cleansing" through an Israel study-abroad program. For good measure, Segal praised college chapters of JVP and its thuggish ally: Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
Thuggish leftist nihilism also characterized Abdulhadi's comments, as when she sputtered that companies "should just go out of business," or in her references to "Lenin's dictum" on imperialism. She warned that "trying to actually appear that we are conciliatory towards the Zionist project [i.e., Israel] is very problematic." She also praised America's ongoing riots and Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement as having the "makings of an intifada."
Consequently, Abdulhadi lauded the then-upcoming July 1 "Day of Rage" against Israel's possible declaration of sovereignty in the disputed West Bank. Such events ostensibly commemorate the "fallen" of a "racial project" encompassing such disparate places as Brazil, Kashmir, Puerto Rico and the wider United States. Adhering to the ideology of intersectionality, she looped in the myth that "Michael Brown was killed and martyred" by a police officer in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
Abdulhadi's targets included universities, which "are also corporations" and "act like corporations," as indicated by their dismissals of lecturers and junior scholars, actions, she claimed, that threatened to silence activists like her. She ignored widespread shouting down and even violence against conservative speakers in academic cancel culture. Rather, she claimed a "de-legitimization of rage, de-legitimization of anger, de-legitimization of emotions in order to kind of rescue a colonialist notion of civility of doing the proper things, Mrs. Emily Post, and the proper etiquette." By contrast, for her "militancy is really important," although "oftentimes in the academy, there is a construction of activism and commitments as something outside of what we do ... like a hobby."
Comrade Rabab had a soulmate in her fellow webinar participant, UCLA African-American studies professor Robin D.G. Kelley. "We go way back," he said of Abdulhadi, whom he praised for organizing numerous African-American delegations to Israel and thereby "linking Israeli apartheid to anti-black racism." Epitomizing the hyperbolic, thin-skinned academic, he claimed that "Rabab has faced decades, decades, decades of repression, violent repression within institutions she works in." This astonishingly overlooks that the securely employed Abdulhadi freely speaks and writes without "violent repression" from any institution.
While Abdulhadi nodded in agreement, Kelley proclaimed that "justice is indivisible and global." He praised "Palestinian-black solidarity" that since the 1960s has "been resisting racialized, state-sanctioned violence," a "new abolitionist generation," as if Abraham Lincoln would have hated Israel. This has started a "post-1967 radical insurgency that moved beyond the nation-state as a path of decolonization" that is "dedicated to eradicating all forms of oppression."
This insurgency's utopian aims included "replacing police, military and prisons with non-carceral paths for safety and justice." Similarly fanciful are "freeing the body from the constraints of inherited and imposed normativities, protecting the earth, ending precarity, acknowledging indigenous sovereignty." Staying with this evidence-free cant, he lamented that "subjugation of racialized subjects has been foundational to modern finance and industrial capital around the globe."
Kelley's liberation theology did not include Jews in Israel's "colonial project" or in America, for whom the 1960s' "ghetto rebellions" had "signaled the demise" of the "old black-Jewish alliance." Concurring with Abdulhadi's support of Jewish Voice for Peace's (JVP, where she is an adviser) Deadly Exchange campaign, he promoted the blood libel of "devastating consequences of U.S. and Israeli joint police trainings" for American minorities. "The knee-to-neck choke hold that [Minneapolis police officer Derek] Chauvin used to murder George Floyd has been used and perfected to torture Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces through seventy-two years of ethnic cleansing and dispassion."
The terrorism-supporting, former SJP member Nerdeen Kiswani, chair of New York City's "unapologetically anti-Zionist" organization Within Our Lifetime/United for Palestine, spouted Marxism while sporting a hijab. She maligned Israel's "ongoing genocide" and "current nefarious agenda" that dates from the "initial annexation" of Israel's very 1948 independence. For her, "militancy is principles" and "not trying to make yourself palatable for white, Western consumption" in an America built on "white supremacy, and imperialism, and capitalism" are laudable traits.
The webinar's tiresome, jargon-laden discussion contained not a single original thought; anyone exposed to academia over the past few decades has heard it all before. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced these webinar participants to abandon live events for now. But their universities are already begging Congress, state legislatures and donors for massive bailouts in order to continue indoctrinating students with hate-filled, anti-American, anti-Israel propaganda. To the contrary, taxpayers, alumni and anyone concerned about the growing nihilistic, violent, Marxist far-left should demand the defunding of academe absent serious reform. It is past time for Abdulhadi and her ilk, who use their constitutional liberties to undermine the civilization that makes their lives possible, to lose their publicly supported sinecures.
Andrew Harrod is a fellow at Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum, and a fellow with the Lawfare Project. Follow him on Twitter at @AEHarrod.