Santa Cruz, CA, July 11 – Eighty organizations today wrote to California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy White to alert him about San Francisco State University Professor Rabab Abdulhadi's "hateful" posting, and to demand he take immediate action to address her "unlawful" conduct. The concerns are also being raised to CSU General Counsel Andrew Jones, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and key state legislators.
Dear Chancellor White,
We are 80 civil rights, religious and education organizations, deeply concerned about the unlawful use of the name of California State University or any of its campuses to promulgate anti-Zionist propaganda and promote a boycott of Israel.
Many of our organizations wrote to you last year about a hateful, discriminatory and threatening posting that appeared on the official Facebook page of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora's Program (AMED) in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. That posting, written by AMED's director Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, stated that she considered "welcoming Zionists to campus, equating Jewishness with Zionism, and giving Hillel ownership of campus Jewishness to be a declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, [and] Palestinians." Although you responded to our groups' letter by affirming that the post was unacceptable and corrective action would be taken, disturbingly, the hateful posting remains on the official AMED Facebook page.
We are writing to you today regarding yet another egregious posting to the AMED Facebook page by its director. On July 3, Prof. Abdulhadi re-posted to the AMED page a message previously shared on her personal Facebook page containing a photograph of a large banner that included the words "Zionism = Racism" and "Boycott! Divest! Sanction!", which was displayed at an anti-Israel rally that she had recently attended. Further postings on Abdulhadi's personal Facebook page make crystal clear that the banner's anti-Zionist, pro-BDS message is one which Abdulhadi whole-heartedly embraces and is eager to promote at SFSU. (See here, here, here and here).
While Prof. Abdulhadi has the right to express religious, ethnic or political hatred on her personal platform, it is a flagrant breach of academic conduct for her to use her administrative position and the Facebook page bearing her academic unit's logo -- which includes the name "San Francisco State University" — to do so. Moreover, unless the CSU Trustees provided their permission to use the University's name in this way, Abdulhadi's posting appears to be a clear violation of California Education Code section 89005.5, which states:
"All of the following names are the property of the state: California State University...San Francisco State University...No person shall, without the permission of the Trustees of the California State University, use this name...in connection with...propaganda, advertising, or promotional activity of any kind which has for its purpose or any part of its purpose the support, endorsement, advancement...of any...boycott or of any political...movement, activity, or program...Every person violating this section is guilty of a misdemeanor."
Prof. Abdulhadi's flagrant and unlawful conduct requires your immediate attention, and we look forward to hearing how you will address this matter.
The letter was coordinated by AMCHA Initiative, and some of the organizations that signed include the Academic Engagement Network, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alumns for Campus Fairness, ACTA, B'nai B'rith International, California Association of Scholars, Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors, Iranian American Jewish Federation, NCSY, Rabbinical Alliance of America, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
AMCHA monitors more than 400 college campuses across the U.S. for anti-Semitic activity. AMCHA recorded 469 known anti-Semitic incidents in 2015, 646 in 2016, 659 in 2017, 706 in 2018, and 338 so far in 2019. Its daily Anti-Semitism Tracker, organized by state and university, can be viewed here.
AMCHA's research has shown that schools with faculty who support an academic boycott of Israel are five times more likely to have acts of anti-Jewish aggression, including assault, harassment and vandalism.
AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism at colleges and universities in the United States.