A three-member faculty panel at San Francisco State University has upheld a grievance filed by Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, ruling that the school violated the scholar's academic freedom when a 2020 seminar she organized was cut off because it featured an affiliate of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The online seminar, which briefly streamed live on YouTube in Sept. 2020 before the service provider cut its feed, had been denied a platform by both Zoom and Facebook over the participation of Leila Khaled.
Khaled — who as a member of the PFLP terror group took part in the hijacking of a Tel Aviv-bound commercial flight in 1969 — was a guest at the event, titled, "Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice and Resistance: A Conversation with Leila Khaled."
The Faculty Hearing Committee at SFSU said Thursday that school officials violated the academic freedom of Abdulhadi by "not providing adequate support" to the organizers of the event, and that they had caused "mental health stress."
The panel cited an email from school administrator warning Abdulhadi and co-instructor Tomomi Kinukawa of the possible risks of engaging in criminal activity. In denying a platform to the event with Khaled, Zoom at the time noted the possible violation of its terms of service because of the speaker's reported affiliation with the PFLP, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization.
In finding for Abdulhadi, the panel called on SFSU to issue a public apology to the professor, issue a "public letter of support of faculty with regards to academic freedom," and provide a site for rescheduling the event.
Algemeiner requests for comment to both SFSU and Abdulhadi were not immediately returned.
The Thursday ruling prompted a support group for the professor to accuse SFSU of "complicity with Zionist and right wing groups aiming to silence Palestinian voices on campus" on Facebook Thursday.
The group also said that SFSU President Lynn Mahoney had three weeks to decide on whether to uphold the panel's findings.
In April 2021, Abdulhadi and the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas program invited Khaled to another webinar on Zoom. The event's registration link was later deactivated.