Santa Cruz, CA, September 3 – Eighty organizations today wrote to the California State University (CSU) Chancellor and the University's General Counsel demanding answers regarding San Francisco State University (SFSU) Professor Rabab Abdulhadi's continued use of the university's name and logo to spread anti-Semitism and false propaganda against Israel on social media.
The groups initially learned that an image with the message "Zionism = Racism" and "Boycott! Divest! Sanction!" had been posted to the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora's Program (AMED) Facebook page, and asked CSU and state officials to address the matter, more than a month ago. To date, nothing has been done. The hateful posts remain, and Abdulhadi has added new posts soliciting funds for her lawsuit against SFSU and to fight the "Israel Lobby." The response from newly appointed SFSU President Mahoney is that the AMED Facebook page is an independent page and unaffiliated with the university.
"When we raised our serious concerns about the apparent illegality of the postings with SFSU, the response was that the AMED Facebook page is a private page unaffiliated with the university. That response is completely insufficient," wrote the groups today. "The official AMED logo and 'San Francisco State University' are displayed front and center for all to see. Furthermore, a suggested university disclaimer that the views of the site 'are not those of the university' will not address the continued blatant misuse of an SFSU program's logo and the name of the university. An SFSU academic program should never be allowed to use its departmental logo and the name 'San Francisco State University' to disseminate politically-motivated and hate-filled messages."
Today's full letter can be seen below and the unsuccessful back and forth attempts to address this matter with Mahoney can be seen here.
Dear Chancellor White and General Counsel Jones,
Last month our 80 organizations asked SFSU President Mahoney to uphold her university's obligations under a recent legal settlement by addressing the hate-filled on-line postings of an SFSU academic unit that appears to clearly violate California Education Code 89005.5. (Please see our letter). In subsequent communications that we received from President Mahoney, we were pleased to learn of the university's recent efforts to create a welcoming campus climate for Jewish students, as well as steps the university's Senate will soon be taking to review social media policies. However, we remain deeply concerned that an image from AMED Director Abdulhadi stating "Zionism = Racism" and "Boycott! Divest! Sanction!", as well as the program's re-posting of Abdulhadi's statement declaring "welcoming Zionists to campus to be a declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, [and] Palestinians," remain visible on AMED at SFSU's Facebook page.
So too, now, is a recent AMED at SFSU posting that links readers to the website "SupportProfAbdulhadi.org" and includes a request for readers to "Support and Donate to our legal fund: launchgood.com/supportRabab," which links to a webpage explaining that the money being solicited from readers is to be used to fight "the Israel Lobby" and to pay for Prof. Abdulhadi's lawsuits against SFSU. Like the other two AMED at SFSU postings, this one, too, apparently violates California law: CA Government Code section 8314 states that it is unlawful for any state employee to use public resources for personal gain.
When we raised our serious concerns about the apparent illegality of the postings with SFSU, the response was that the AMED Facebook page is a private page unaffiliated with the university. That response is completely insufficient. The official AMED logo and "San Francisco State University" are displayed front and center for all to see. Furthermore, a suggested university disclaimer that the views of the site "are not those of the university" will not address the continued blatant misuse of an SFSU program's logo and the name of the university. An SFSU academic program should never be allowed to use its departmental logo and the name "San Francisco State University" to disseminate politically-motivated and hate-filled messages.
It is important to point out that we are not calling for you to shut down the AMED at SFSU Facebook page or to suppress Professor Abdulhadi's speech as a private individual. Indeed, she is free to engage in whatever forms of speech she likes on her own private social media accounts. However, Professor Abdulhadi and the program she directs continue to use official university channels to disseminate highly offensive materials and to engage in activities that appear to violate at least two California state laws. The longer these illegal, venomous postings bearing the imprimatur of an academic program and the name of "San Francisco State University" are permitted by President Mahoney and your own administration to remain online, and university faculty are allowed to flagrantly misuse the name and resources of the university, the more deeply concerned we become for the safety and well-being of Jewish students, and all students, at SFSU.
Since, to date, SFSU has been unwilling to acknowledge and address this very serious matter, we are turning to you. Do you consider the three AMED at SFSU postings we have cited to be violations of California state law? If so, please let us know how you intend to address this matter. If not, please explain to us why these three postings, which seem to be egregious violations of both the law and the public trust, are not being addressed by your administration.
Thank you for your consideration,
The letters were coordinated by AMCHA Initiative, and some of the organizations that signed include the Academic Engagement Network, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alums 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. The organization has recorded more than 2,500 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses since 2015. 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.