“I do not recall a time in my life when I did not experience bans on freedom of speech,” writes Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi in a new book on academic freedom and its limits.
The president of San Francisco State University recently announced he will be stepping down, Professor Rabab Abdulhadi writes before he leaves office, “there is a real opportunity for President Wong and for SFSU and CSU to stand up for public education, to be accountable to the public, to reject and end complicity with right-wing pressures and donors.”
Tomorrow, Professor Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi and her lawyers will appear before a 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.” In this article, Professor Abdulhadi offers an update and critical analysis on the ongoing lawsuit against her and the struggle for scholarship, pedagogy and advocacy on justice for/in Palestine as part and parcel of the indivisibility of justice.
Last week Dr. Hatem Bazian, a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, became subject to intense criticism and calls for his dismissal after it came to light that months earlier he had retweeted an anti-Semitic meme. The incident follows years of false accusations of anti-Semitism and outlandish claims. Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, a professor at the nearby San Francisco State University, explained in emails this week to her colleagues and the UC Berkeley Chancellor that Bazian is being victimized by a campaign: “I urge you to strong reject this bullying and smear campaign. I call on you to publicly defend Dr. Bazian against this witch hunt.”
Part two in a series where Dr. Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi examines a federal complaint filed against her, the California State University Board of Trustees, and the San Francisco State University by the Lawfare Project, a self-described “legal arm for the pro-Israel community” whose executive director affirmed that its objective is to “make the enemy pay.”
Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi writes, “By suing SFSU administrators and naming me, this legal bullying attempts to pick up where other members of the pro-Israel network previously failed, namely get rid of me, dismantle the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) Studies Program and erase the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) and advocacy for justice in Palestine at SFSU campus. While the lawsuit names several SFSU administrators and staff, Campus Watch, David Horowitz and other Zionist groups have focused their Twitter campaigns on me and GUPS. AMCHA, Horowitz, Canary Mission, Stand With Us, Zionist Organization of America, Campus Watch, the David Project, and the Middle East Forum have launched one smear campaign after another to extinguish the Palestinian activism and advocacy for Palestine on campus.”
Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi explores the roots of Puerto Rican-Palestinian solidarity, beginning with movements in the 1970s, “Palestinian Puerto Rican solidarity is extensive and includes various organizations and individuals in multiple locations and during different time periods. In Chicago for example, the solidarity expressed by the embrace of the two freed political prisoners, Rasmea Odeh and Oscar López Rivera goes back to the 1970s. The late Palestinian community leader Samir Odeh was instrumental in forging those ties of solidarity. In fact, leaders who accompanied Oscar López to the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York remembered Samir as one of their comrades from “back in the days.” In New York, even before Palestinian and Arab students began to organize themselves within the Organization of Arab Students (OAS), the Young Lords Party had already declared support for the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle. During the 2011 delegation to Palestine in which Angela Davis participated, former Young Lords Party and Puerto Rican Student Union member and long-time anti-war and trade union organizer Jaime Veve, recalled how, as a young student involved in the Oceanhill-Brownsville struggle for community control, he had two posters on his wall, Angela Davis and Leila Khaled.”
Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi says the Palestinian cause is often pushed to the margins, but not at this year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade where organizers invited a Palestinian contingent: “We were not only invited to march in New York City, usually a hands-off-Palestine site despite the advances made by the movement for justice in Palestine. We were also asked to bring Palestinian flags with us, “many, many flags” and invited to move closer to the front right behind the leading line of Indigenous Taino people, where Oscar López, riding in the float saw us, raised his fist for Palestine and placed it on his heart.”