In this article, Professor Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, founding director and senior scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program at San Francisco State University offers an update and critical analysis of the struggle for scholarship, pedagogy and advocacy on justice for/in Palestine as part and parcel of the indivisibility of justice.
At the outset I want to reiterate my gratitude to everyone who has stood by me and us, faculty, student, staff and the broader community of justice at San Francisco State University in our struggle against silencing and for justice in/for Palestine as part and parcel of the indivisibility of justice. It would have never been possible for any of us individually and collectively to continue resisting this onslaught if it were not for having you in our corner. History has taught us that this is how social movements organize, mobilize and defeat bullies whether it is on campus grounds, orchestrated lobbies or authoritarian states.
Secondly, I want to stress that my radio silence for the past period since Lawfare filed its amended lawsuit is not due to my being afraid –only oppressors fear the truth—though the Zionist campaign has certainly intensified in the last few months beyond where it was before. The campaign sought to silence me and isolate me from my colleagues on campus by making me radioactive; distract and derail me from my scholarship and destroy my reputation in the academy; dismantle the AMED Studies Program; criminalize Palestine justice-centered campus activism; and ring alarm bells among my family over my safety and well-being. Most recently the Zionist campaign sought to deprive me of my livelihood by instigating disciplinary measures against me by the SFSU Administration and CSU Chancellor’s office and by tightening the screws around me or as a dear colleague put it, “death by 10,000 cuts.”
Tomorrow, my lawyers and I will appear before Judge Orrick in Federal Court in San Francisco to once again challenge a frivolous lawsuit filed by the Lawfare Project, which describes itself as “an arm of the pro-Israel community” and whose executive Director, Brooke Goldstein, promised to “inflict massive punishment” on those of us who dare research, teach or advocate for justice in/for Palestine. This is Lawfare’s third attempt to sue me. Judge Orrick dismissed Lawfare’s second attempt on November 8, 2017, and issued his thoughtful and detailed 38 page order on March 9, 2018. Lawfare filed its amended complaint on March 29th, on behalf of students from SF Hillel whom I have never met nor had in any of my classes. The Lawsuit falsely alleges that I am the mastermind of student protest against the racist mayor of occupied Jerusalem, Nir Barakat, on April 6, 2016, an event of which I was unaware, and of organizing the Know Your Rights (KYR) Fair on February 28, 2017, when I was out of town. The Lawsuit once again smears me with false accusations of anti-Semitism over my criticism of SFSU President’s welcoming Zionists to our campus and my demand that President Wong retract his statement and instead respect the social justice mission and legacy of SFSU especially as we mark the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Student Strike, the longest in the history of US student movement. The Spirit of ‘68 as I called it on July 14, and July 21, 2017, has been our inspiration to found and build the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) Studies program at SFSU as a site for justice-centered knowledge production that is community accountable in our scholarship, pedagogy, and advocacy.
Every single accusation the Lawfare lawsuit made is not only factually false but it does not hold the light if we apply logical analysis and rely on knowledge of social movement organizing and activism that has been long studied in disciplinary and interdisciplinary studies. The developments of the Zionist campaign, the collusion of SFSU administrators and cooptation of others presents us with a classical case of several social movement phenomena such as power dynamics and propaganda wars (or hasbara in the case of Israel); the bystander dilemma that my sister/comrade Simona Sharoni has theorized, the free rider problem that scholars of the Civil Rights Movements have amply discussed, and the workings of internalized colonialism that Frantz Fanon has highlighted. The immediacy of the lawsuit tomorrow as well as the limited space of a Mondoweiss article here do not allow me to elaborate on each aspect but I will do so in the book I am writing on this case.
I have amply discussed both the Barakat protest and the KYR Fair and my legal team has made several arguments that were convincing to Judge Orrick at the last hearing including pointing out to SFSU policy that faculty advisors are not held liable for student groups’ action. My lawyers also made similar arguments in our current motions for dismissal with prejudice that will be heard by Judge Orrick’ Federal Court tomorrow. This makes total sense for anyone familiar with campus dynamics. Otherwise no faculty member would ever agree to act as an advisor to student groups, not only to protect themselves since it is impossible to monitor (nor do we want to) student activities and control their every movement. More importantly at least in my view is respect for the right of students (which I consider sacred) to organize however they will and make their own decisions and mistakes and learn from them. We act as mentors and advisors whose critical feedback can be accepted or rejected as is the norm in academic interaction. This is how I see the role of mentors—encourage critical thinking, keep pushing the envelope and refuse to police thought or actions to maintain an environment relatively free of coercion and indoctrination to allow students to grow. We advise but we can’t and should never compel. I have expressed these views on multiple occasions including in a June 2016 meeting I attended in my capacity as advisor to the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) at their request. The meeting was attended by SFSU President Wong, his Chief of Staff Allison Sanders, and Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Luoluo Hong. I expressed then (as I’ve done on numerous occasions too many to count) my strong disagreement with President Wong’s campus efforts to discipline and curtail student activism. President Wong sought to curtail public space for student organizing, armed the University Police Department with tasers, made statements on civility here and here that eerily reproduces the weaponization of free speech in support of a right-wing agenda, and has championed the corporatization and private donors at the expense of public education and accountability. President Wong’s actions were and continue to be alarmingly damaging and conducive to a hostile work and study environment, not only for scholarship, teaching and advocacy on justice in/for Palestine but for everyone concerned with social justice on and off campus.
Furthermore students are not sheep. Even when their grades depend on it, they make decisions on how to spend their time and what to do with their assignments rationally and carefully. Of course some students continue to negotiate and try to get away with less work for maximum grades but I also see this as part of human behavior to continue to expand the margins of space with those who hold power, in this instance the instructor who is teaching the class. My firmness with deadlines and guidelines have never stopped any of my students from negotiating and neither should they despite my frustration with such tactics. This allows them to learn how to deal with life and what works and what does not work in their future jobs and careers.
Anyone suggesting that students simply follow orders from their faculty advisors, then, simply has no connection with reality.
I have not yet discussed the third issue, regarding President Wong’s declaration of welcoming Zionists to campus and my criticism of it . On February 23rd, President Wong emailed the campus community stating that Zionists are welcomed at SFSU. This has been a result of intensive lobbying by several groups that have been at the forefront of the campaign against me and other scholars, student and community groups that advocate for justice in/for Palestine at SFSU and beyond. The groups include SF Hillel, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and SFSU Department of Jewish Studies (DJS). The campaign seemed coordinated with that which sought to silence me, dismantle the AMED Studies program, and criminalize campus activism that has been going on since and before I was hired in 2007.
A history of Islamophobic, anti-Arab racism and hostility to Palestine has been a trademark of SFSU and a serious contradiction of the University’s history as the home of the 1968 Student Strike, the longest in the history of the U.S., as two statements Veteran Strikers issued in 2014 and more recently. Strike leaders, anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist, were historically and continue to be supportive of justice for/in Palestine. As is now, right-wing forces also sought to undermine the long term impact of the student strike. Several mechanisms were employed. First, at the conclusion of the strike, the university fired professors who were advisors to the Black Student Union (BSU) and the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF). The case of Professor Nathan Hare stands out. At another CSU campus, the case of Rudy Acuna and Xicano Studies also stands out. John Carlos and Tommi Smith were expelled from San Jose State for raising their fists in protest during the US National Anthem after winning Olympic Gold and Silver medals in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Today, the right-wing attack, including by US President Trump, against Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James, is reminiscent of the onslaught on Carlos and Smith. Secondly, in 1969 the University responded to BSU and TWLF demands for a College of Third World Studies by naming it the College of Ethnic Studies (CoES) instead in the hope that studies of white ethnic communities, might join in and would thus lighten up the potentially transformative politics of third worldism and the spirit of ‘68. In my oral history interviews with strike leaders and participants, as well as with current SFSU faculty, I am told that faculty whose areas of studies take a Eurocentric approach distanced themselves from the new College because they did not want to have anything with the strikers who were led by the Black Panthers Party and other political formations in communities of color. It should be pointed out though that the strike was not solely organized by Black Students or communities of color. Indeed, Indigenous activists who did not see themselves as part of the U.S. nation-state, such as Richard Oakes, a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), who co-led the takeover of Alcatraz, was a student at SFSU. White students, faculty members and union organizers, Jewish and non-Jewish, supported the students in their strike, actions, bail funds and defense. It was that broad coalition based on an indivisible sense of justice that kept the movement together until the strike achieved most of its goals in 1969.
Like the 1968 Strike that sought to transform campus politics and decolonize the curriculum, the history of the AMED Studies program is a barometer to the contradiction as well as the promise of an academic program that challenges the status quo by seeking to decolonize the curriculum thus opening additional spaces for student mobilization, faculty rights and feeding into community struggles for justice. It is not an accident that we insisted that AMED Studies be housed in the historic college of Ethnic Studies which we found to be our rightful place given the legacy of 1968. It is also no accident that a few weeks before I joined the faculty, SFSU succeeded in pressuring its junior faculty (who did not have much say or power) to create an alternative program in Middle East and Islamic Studies (MEIS) to undermine the transformative potential of AMED with its criticism of area studies and refusal to use the colonial and orientalist reference of the “Middle East”. Furthermore, AMED Studies does not view communities as objects of study but rather as partners in producing justice-centered knowledge. Instead, we see AMED Studies partnerships, whether they are in SF Bay Area, California, North America, or with Palestinian universities and research sites around the world, as community-based and community accountable. In this, we seek to undermine the boundaries and hierarchies community-university relations, opting instead to pursue a principled approach to funding sources refusing to cut corners, present superficial proposals, or apply catchphrases that might attract the eyes of donors especially in the post 9/11/2001 tragedy some scholars inserted Islam and Muslims in their project title, switched their research agendas from Arab American for example to Muslims despite lack of expertise and knowledge. Several academic programs also added Islam to their titles even though they did not have the faculty or expertise to do so. By contrast, we changed the initial interest of SFSU in creating Arab and/or Islamic studies or only focusing on Arab American studies. Naming AMED studies as such was intended and continues to signal that our focus on Arab and Muslim communities is not U.S. centric (as in Arab American and Muslim American) but that extends to other diasporas and that the geographies and positionalities of what constitutes home is constantly dynamic and shifting and shaped by multiple factors. AMED studies also accounts for non-Arab ethnicities (including Kurds, Amazigh, Armenian, Greek, Circassian) in Arab majority communities and non-Muslim religiosities (including Christians, Jews, Hindus, Zorastians, Yazidis, agnostics, atheists) in Muslim-majority communities. We do not study Islam; to do so would require the hiring of at least 10 scholars who specialize in scripture and jurisprudence. Finally, we are committed to an indivisible sense of justice in our scholarship, pedagogy and advocacy, organically including gender and sexuality, political economy, citizenship, language, age and disability (to name a few) structural inequalities and dynamics so as not to exceptionalize Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians or the US or Israel.
This also explains how the relationship between SFSU and the community (Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians and those who support them) has been like the sun in London. SFSU has responded to Zionist pressure precisely because its history of Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism, hostility to Palestine and general animus toward challenges to Eurocentric and neoliberal privatization of public education. The lobbying by and the success at certain junctures of pro-Israeli groups can only be understood in this context. I and others have amply demonstrated how well-funded and well-connected the Zionist smearing, bullying and intimidation campaigns are.
The Jewish Community Relations Council, a hawkish pro-Israeli group, sought to undermine AMED Studies by lobbying Past SFSU President Robert Corrigan, just as we were about to hire in 2009 two faculty members in Arab Diasporas and Muslim Ethnicities to build the AMED studies with me. Indeed not only did past President Corrigan cancel the faculty searches in retaliation for AMED’s sponsorship of GUPS keynote speaker and BDS co-founder, Omar Barghouti at the Palestine Cultural Mural/Edward Said Mural second anniversary. In 2012 and upon his retirement, President Corrigan deleted the faculty lines outright from university budget, reflecting the institutional Islamophobic and anti-Arab racism that has characterized SFSU thus maintaining a hostile work and study environment despite a few glimmers of sunshine here and there.
JCRC will continue to star in the orchestrated attack against me, AMED, GUPS and any expression of advocacy for justice in/for Palestine, as will SF Hillel and the Department of Jewish Studies, though I should note that while silent, to my knowledge not every faculty member in the Department of Jewish Studies has joined the Islamophobic, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian chorus. Given the historical institutional limitations of alternative institutional representations on campus, faculty members, students and staff members who do not share Zionism’s illegitimate proclamation of owning Jewishness nor of Israel speaking in their name have historically stayed away from identifying as Jews or challenging Zionist representation. They have long parted ways with the right-wing turn in hegemonic Zionist organizations that claim to be Jewish organizations and instead reflected the diversity of research interests, political views, life choices and in Jewish and other lived community experiences. However, the increasing hawkish stands of the Department of Jewish Studies and Hillel and their claims to be the sole voice to speak for Jews on campus has recently motivated colleagues and students alike to speak up and challenge the dominance of pro-Israeli stands, such as the recent formation of Jews Against Zionism. Outside SFSU, Open Hillel has expressed solidarity with our just defense against Lawfare and Hillel’s hostility. Twelve scholars of Jewish Studies across the US have also submitted a friend of the court brief rejecting Lawfare’s erroneous equation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
After President Wong joined SFSU, declaring in his bio his admiration for the late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said , who is honored on the Palestinian Cultural Mural , he reached out to the AMED community by visiting the Arab Cultural and Community Center (ACCC) before his investiture in March 2013. However, soon thereafter, Zionist groups whisked him away on an all expense-paid trip to Israel. This radically transformed things on campus for President Wong’s openness to supporting the building of the AMED Studies program and beginning to lessen the hostile work and study environment at SFSU. This also points to the intersection of political pressure and financial pressure. And so it stands in as a glaring example of the increasing influence of donors over the governance of the university that has intensified as the state reduced by almost two thirds the budget for this public university.
JCRC’s funding of President Wong’s trip to Israel paid off. Enter Tammi Benjamin in fall 2013 who defamed me, AMED and GUPS by accusing us of anti-Semitism implying that we engage in the glorification of the murder of Jews . Without investigating whether this was true despite pressures from many Palestinian justice advocates, President Wong responded within a day to Benjamin’s knowingly false allegation and issued a statement condemning anti-Semitism without pointing out that the charges were false. Even after I and others wrote about it, President Wong only retreated from his attack on freedom of speech but never issued a statement defending me, AMED studies or the students from the false charges of anti-Semitism.
I should note that AMCHA’s false allegations were anything but random. Fall 2013 was not only the semester following the investiture of President Wong and his fully paid trip to Israel in March 2013. It was also the period when we were finally able to take steps to institutionalize the program by submitting our proposal for a Minor in AMED Studies to SFSU Academic Senate. Shortly after I joined SFSU the university began revamping its Baccalaureate program. As a result, new courses that we submitted for consideration and approval could not be approved for General Education classification. With the absence of an academic minor and faced with a stiff competition from MEIS across the aisle who were given permission to apply some of our GE courses for that academic Minor, our classes were not as attractive to students who were financially strapped and needed to only take required courses but not electives. Thus the AMED Studies Minor proposal and getting approval for GE classification for our courses was of paramount importance. With one faculty member, on one hand, and SFSU’s refusal to reinstate the AMED faculty lines, on the other, the only option left to protect AMED studies from vulnerability was to institutionalize it.
Enter Tammi Rossman Benjamin, one of two co-founders of AMCHA Initiative, who was at the time a Hebrew lecturer at UC-Santa Cruz. Benjamin who has now been promoted to become the Executive Director of the group, has specialized in various attacks on faculty and student groups in the UC and CSU systems and failed despite being well funded and well connected to accomplish her goals.
Over the year, this relentless attack has been rotated among JCRC, AMCHA, Stand With Us, Zionist Organization of America, Anti-Defamation League, Canary Mission, David Horowitz Freedom Center, Campus Watch, and more recently Lawfare, SF Hillel and Department of Jewish Studies as well as individuals who send their nasty and hateful threatening emails. The Jewish Caucus of the State Assembly of California has played a Prominent role since 2013 also hiding behind false accusations of anti-Semitism to try to put us out of business.
We’ve had a brief lull in anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and Islamophobic hostile environment at SFSU in the first year I was hired. In 2007, we negotiated the Palestinian cultural mural which has been placed on hold by then President Wong over two symbols of Palestinian history to which Zionist groups objected, represented Palestinian refugees and their insistence on exercising their inalienable right to return to the homes of their ancestors from which they were uprooted by Zionist militias when Israel was founded. The first was the cartoon character of Handala, a refugee boy with his back to us, wearing torn clothing and no shoes to signal poverty that is caused by displacement and oppression and reject internalized colonialism, just as John Carlos and Tommi Smith in the Mexico Olympics stood with no shoes to accept their medals. Created the late Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali who was assassinated by the Israeli Mossad Handala is supposed to turn back and face us when justice in/for Palestine prevails. The second symbol was the key Handala was holding in one hand on which the word, return, was drawn. The Mural rendering was drawn by the Palestinian artist, Dr. Fayeq Oweis, and the anti-zionist Jewish feminist artist, Dr. Susan Greene. Palestinian students, other student groups, and a broader coalition of community groups and individual in the US and internationally have supported the Mural and saw it as a possible indication that SFSU was finally changing courses and rethinking its long-held Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism and hostility to Palestine. My hiring also was seen by me and the community in that light. However, siding with the Zionist narrative, President Wong placed a moratorium on all Murals until the symbols were removed. In another practice that would repeat itself, the Indigenous student group, SKINS (Student Kouncil for Intertribal Nations), was denied inaugurating the Native American Mural. As a result, the SKINS mural was the last, not the first, to be inaugurated. This was reflected of SFSU’s disregard for Indigenous rights and rights of colonized communities. Furthermore, attempting to drive a wedge between allies in joint struggle and isolate Palestinian students was an early warning signal of the McCarthyism that was to intensify as our refusal to be silenced and our insistence to build the AMED program and speak up for justice for all produced results.
This history of Zionist attempts to silence us and our allies on university campuses was not divorced from Israel’s escalating violence against Palestinians. Indeed my history and that of campus activism at SFSU was intricately tied with Israel’s violence against Palestinians, Lebanese and others in the region and beyond. Saliem Shehadeh’s masters’ thesis (and future doctoral dissertation) provides an archival and oral history account of some of that history. I will also elaborate further on my own history and experiences. For now though a few examples suffice. Whether we are discussing the unsuccessful campaign the revoke the reservation for Al-Awda’s National Convention at SFSU in 2006 attacks, or the Israeli wars on Gaza in 2008-2009 and 2014, Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem and attempt to expel Palestinians from their homes, or the expanding support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the US, attempts by students, faculty, and staff to protest Israeli violence and call the attention of our colleagues and peers has fueled the wrath of Zionist backlash, making it categorically clear that no dissent would be allowed and no discussion permitted. Indeed, in 2009, for example, Muslim and Arab students protested an Islamophobic poster on which College Republican and the I-team (Israel) organized a campus event where audience members were invited to throw shoes at Hamas flag and win prizes. The flag in question was actually Ashahadatyn, the second tenet of Islam. Despite MSA and GUPS protests, SFSU refused to remove the posters that were unauthorized for fear of being sued.
The same response was to be repeated 9 years later, in October 2016, when David Horowitz and the Canary Mission plastered 26 Islamophobic and racist posters in strategic places all over our campus (and other campuses across the US) with a caricature of my face , names of students] libelously labeling us as terrorist supporters and Jew haters . Then and on 3 other occasions, SFSU and indeed CSU claimed that this was protected speech even though the posters did not abide by the SFSU Time, Place and Manner policy. Three issues are worth noting here. First that SFSU Administrators admitted knowing about the posters from the early morning hours of October 14, 2016, but that several other meetings and concerns seemed to be more pressing than removing hateful and bullying posters that threatened the safety and security of faculty and students. Secondly, two big posters were placed right on the opening of the Administration Building garagem but they did not seem to be of concern to SFSU leadership. It was students who found them and removed them in the afternoon. Third, in December of the same year, SFSU refused to remove white supremacist posters claiming that their decision that right-wing protected speech was protected and that their decision was informed by how they handled the racist posters against us.
The doubling down and catering to political right-wing pressures was to repeat itself on several occasions including the response of SFSU to the frivolous but serious Lawfare lawsuit. For example, SFSU hired an independent investigator to examine the April 6, 2016, Barakat protest. The investigator found hat no violence was involved on the part of student protesters and no hostility against Jews was found. The protest, the investigator concluded was against Israel and Barakat. Instead of upholding the report by the independent investigator he hired, SFSU President Wong issued a statement a few days after the Lawfare lawsuit was filed contradicting his own and SFSU’s stands, reversing the Maddux report and SFSU’s own position, and claiming that the protest showed anti-Semitism.
In September 2016, Campus Watch of Daniel Pipes spearheaded the Zionist attacks against Palestinian scholarship and education. They launched a twitter campaign that was shared hundreds of times, including by Israeli settlers, labeling An-Najah National University in Palestine as a terrorist breeding ground and me as a terrorist supporter who intends to take SFSU students to Palestine to become indoctrinated by terrorism. Not only does this campaign reek of racism and Islamophobia, it also reproduces Zionists favorite theme in portraying me as a mastermind of all bad things that might befall SFSU. In addition, this and other campaigns are quite gendered in referring to “breeding” that betrays Israeli and Zionist panic over Palestinian birth rate and thus is continuously inciting one Zionist campaign after another to kill pregnant Palestinian women and thus accomplish one kill with 2 shots and in showing pictures of An-Najah students that are only male which is inciteful but also intended to invoke the war on terror imaginary the criminalizes Arab and Muslim men. I had originally thought that female students make up about or over 50% of the student body at Palestinian universities. However during our Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis and the Indivisibility of Justice collaboration with Birzeit and An-Najah National universities in Palestine, we were told that that ratio now stands at around 70%. However this too has been an inconvenient truth since showing pictures of Palestinian female students would crumble the image of Palestinian society as exceptionally misogynist and disrupts the “war on terror” hasbara that relies on simplistic but colonialist and orientalist imagery of Palestinian men as ruthless murderers and Palestinian women as docile and voiceless.
At the present time two main organizations seem to be spearheading the task of silencing and intimidating us and trying to get me fired, dismantling the AMED studies program and criminalizing student activism. The first is the Lawfare project that has sued me and SFSU in Federal Court last June (2017) and has filed an amended lawsuit on March 29th after judge Orrick threw their case out and told them both in Court on November 8, 2017, and again in his written ruling on March 9, 2018, that he was giving them to chance to revise and submit an amended complaint out of an abundance of caution. In Lawfare’s very serious (if frivolous) drama, SF Hillel, JCRC and the Department of Jewish Studies are the stars. Behind them are the millions of dollars from Sheldon Adelson, the ICC Grinspoon Fellows, The StandWithUS Emerson Fellows, and the David Project.
The struggle today, at least for us, is on two fronts, courthouses and campuses. I believe that there are multiple factors at play for this reason. First, there is neoliberal turn toward which some public universities have moved, like SFSU as well as the CSU, given the cancellation of the Edward Said search at CSU -Fresno, the attacks on Black students at SJSU, and CSU onslaught on CFA collective bargaining agreement, raising tuition. Instead of mobilizing students, faculty, staff and community to pressure the state to reinstate funding for public education and resist the right-wing agenda of defunding, university administrators have rather invested their resources into fundraising trips and impressing private donors. To take the former strategy would have undermined the neoliberal mission of the corporate university that holds itself accountable to its private right-wing donors and bullies who refuse to accept defeat and insists on lying to the public to achieve their goals. SFSU and CSU administrators, impacted by the disease of white supremacy that validates the words of dominant groups over those of the marginalized have internalized racism, exploitation and individualism at the expense of justice and accountability to the collective and the protection of those deliberately marginalized. Instead of acting as educators and leaders, SFSU and CSU administrators acted like a lobbied group that positively responds to whatever the lobbyists allege. It is intrinsically linked to the fact that Zionism was and continues to be an colonial project that has found a friend in neo-liberalism.
What’s next in terms of the Lawfare lawsuit?
Tomorrow at 2 PM in the San Francisco Federal Courthouse, Judge Orrick will hold a second court hearing on the legal grounds of the lawsuit. It must be remembered that while the lawsuit was submitted to federal court, the court must still assess whether or not the lawsuit meets legal standards to warrant a trial. In the first court hearing Judge Orrick has noted that the lawsuit against me does not meet such standards. In doing so, Judge Orrick essentially ruled that even if everything in Lawfare’s lawsuit against me were true, Lawfare would still have no case against me. This indicates that Lawfare’s lawsuit against me was so poor that the Judge Orrick did not even have to analyze the evidence to dismiss it. After having reviewed the third iteration of the lawsuit alongside the amicus briefs and motions to dismiss, Judge Orrick will use this upcoming second hearing to have his questions addressed by the respective parties before making yet another court decision on the legal strength of the lawsuit. Moving forward he will either decide to dismiss the lawsuit or to allow a court trial. Legal analysts on the case have noted that the likely scenario is that Judge Orrick will again dismiss the lawsuit, but this time with prejudice so Lawfare will not be allowed to reintroduce the lawsuit into federal court.
The coalition that has been pushing back against the attacks to silence me and Palestinian activism and scholarship represents a broad base of social justice groups and communities and is deeply rooted in joint struggle principle. Donating time, money and other resources, especially a stubborn commitment to the indivisibility of justice, including my own partner and soulmate, Jaime Veve, my family, my lawyers Mark Kleiman and Behnam Gharagozli who are defending me pro bono, the success of our efforts outweighs those of Lawfare who have the resources of not only the Zionist lobby network but also the immense legal resources of the Winston and Strawn mega law firm that boasts almost 1000 lawyers on their payroll. Support for my case stems from long-time community organizers in the U.S. North, America, Palestine, and throughout the world. It includes my students at SFSU (GUPS, SKINS, LFS, MeCHA, SQE, ESSO, JAZ) and students around the world, National Students for Justice in Palestine; academic associations and institutions (such as the California Scholars for Academic Freedom, the Middle East Studies Association, American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, The National Association for Chicano and Chicana Studies, National Women’s Studies Association, the Berkshire Conference, oral historians, Asian American Studies Association, Faculty for Palestine and the US Academic and Cultural Boycott of Palestine to name a few), labor unions (such as the California Faculty Association, the San Francisco Labor Council, UAW Local 2865, and Labor for Palestine); university professors and lecturers including my own colleagues and students at SFSU who have been unstoppable in their support and having my back, and members of various communities near and far (Al-Awda; American Muslims for Palestine; Arab Cultural and Resource Center; Arab Resource and Organizing Center; Jews of Color; Black for Palestine; Feminists for Justice in/for Palestine; Jewish Voice for Peace; the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders; an international Jewish Scholars statement; 2016 Prisoners Solidarity Delegation; Palestinian Youth Movement; Samidoun, the US Palestinian Community Network) legal groups (such as the Council on American Islamic Relations; Asian Law Caucus; National Lawyers Guild; Center for Constitutional Rights; and Palestine Legal). Institutionally and individually, colleagues, comrades, sisters and brothers and advocates and grassroots organizers have recognized the insidiousness of the attacks and the ramifications of not taking action when justice is threatened. Dozens of statements of support have been written on my behalf, hundreds of calls and emails have been sent to SFSU administrators demanding my protection and that of my students and colleagues. Demands have been made on SFSU and CSU to stop shielding Zionists and atone for its harassment against me, GUPS AMED studies and our students, colleagues and peers. In addition, thousands of dollars have been raised in the fundraising campaign for my legal defense. The success of AMED Studies, despite the university’s escalation of its siege against me and the program that has restricted our ability to breathe, is not simply measured in court rulings though that’s quite important, but in the strength of communities that unite, fight back, and expand spaces for justice for all of us.
Our date in court is tomorrow but our future is intricately linked with everyone fighting for justice anywhere around the world. Together we remain defiant, steadfast, proud of our convictions and united in having each other’s backs. This spirit of justice in ‘68 and now can not be broken or defeated.
Those interested in more information and expressions of support please refer to the following links:
- Palestine Legal media advisory that includes history of the case https://palestinelegal.org/news/2018/8/2/sfsu-media-advisory
- Rally outside Court house at 1pm on August 8th https://www.facebook.com/events/248247629297399/
- Panel discussion on Tuesday, August 7th, https://www.facebook.com/events/1938914146203580/
- The International Campaign to Defend Professor Rabab Abdulhadi https://www.facebook.com/DefendProfAbdulhadi/
- AMED Studies at SFSU https://amed.sfsu.edu/
- Follow Professor Abdulhadi on twitter https://twitter.com/abdulhadirabab?lang=en
- Follow the campaign at SFSU on twitter https://twitter.com/SFSU4Palestine