Historians Against the War draws attention to case of professor investigated for meeting with controversial Palestinian leaders

Historians in the News

Dear HAW members,

I am sending you the attached "International Academic and Public Intellectuals Letter," inviting your signature.  

It expresses solidarity with the Palestinian-American scholar Rabab Abdulhadi, Director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) at SFSU. She has been the target of a vicious attack from the rightwing pro-Israel group AMCHA.   
I helped author the letter, which is being circulated globally.


Excerpt from the Letter (link)

TO: Leslie Wong, President, San Francisco State University Kenneth Monteiro, Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, SFSU 

 Dear President Wong and Dean Monteiro, 

As scholars and public intellectuals from many parts of the world, we write in solidarity with Professor Rabab Abdulhadi in opposition to the unprincipled, entirely false charges made against her by the AMCHA Initiative, which claims to be “Defending Jewish Students” in California universities by attacking individuals and institutions that in any way criticize, the State of Israel. In this instance, AMCHA and its founder, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, allege that a scholarly delegation led by Professor Abdulhadi constituted a “taxpayer-funded pro-terror trip” (see AMCHA letter, May 27, 2014). Its charges are aimed at elected officials, hoping to silence scholars with whom AMCHA disagrees through political pressure upon their academic institutions. (Click here for Professor Abdulhadi’s response to charges).

By now AMCHA has a well-documented history of defamatory and often openly racist attacks on scholars and students in the University of California and California State University systems who oppose Israel’s policies and support Palestinian human rights. It seeks to intimidate by alleging that anyone who disagrees with it is “anti-Semitic.” Worse yet, it consistently tries to smear Arab-American academics like Professor Abdulhadi by suggesting that their scholarship alone makes them “terrorist sympathizers.” 

As your investigation and public statements make emphatically clear, Professor Abdulhadi’s January 2014 academic and labor delegation to Palestine was an integral part of her responsibilities as Director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) Program in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. She complied with all university regulations and requirements in exemplary fashion. 

AMCHA’s latest baseless allegations are more evidence of its attempts to silence anyone who speaks out in defense of Palestinian rights, in ways redolent of the McCarthy-era witch hunts that led to over 400 American academics losing their jobs. They are a basic violation of academic freedom and of Professor Abdulhadi’s fundamental civil right to free expression. They are also offensively and grossly racist. While we commend you for President Wong’s statement that AMCHA’s claims “have no merit,” we regret that any investigation took place, given what Dean Monteiro himself has called AMCHA’s attacks “ill intent” and “mean-spirited” In that context, we insist that you act to rebut the malicious attacks on not only Professor Abdulhadi but the entire AMED program as an integral part of Ethnic Studies at SFSU. AMCHA’s materials, defamatory on their face, should be immediately removed from University websites. AMED should be affirmed for the unique role it plays not only in California higher education, but the U.S. academy as a whole.

The University of California and California State University systems have well-deserved reputations for world-class scholarship and free inquiry. AMCHA’s bullying “degrades the campus climate for all,” to again quote Dean Monteiro. We urge you and all of your colleagues to stand firmly for academic freedom, and the right to speak, teach, and publish without fear about Palestine and Israel, as well as any other pressing international issue....

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