The Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Caucus working in partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace emphatically supports Professor Rabab Abdulhadi.
Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi is a prolific scholar-activist and has been a leader in Ethnic Studies, founding the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas program at SFSU. We salute her incredible leadership and honor her legacy in Palestine organizing. We oppose the ongoing defamation and assaults against her and against the academic freedom of colleagues and students at SFSU.
Professor Abdulhadi has been subjected to multiple slanderous campaigns, most recently by the Lawfare Project, “the legal arm of the pro-Israel community,” which accuse her of antisemitism or ties to terrorism. These false and racist accusations are based only on the fact that Professor Abdulhadi is Palestinian and works on Palestinian issues. These attacks are part of a national pattern of harassment that targets researchers, scholars, and public intellectuals that advocate for justice, and in particular when those scholars criticize the state of Israel, especially as it relates to Palestine, or analyze the structural racism in the state toward Palestinians, non-European Jews and other people of color. These attacks are also a part of a larger right-wing attack on academic freedom, which extends to academics who levy the same criticisms of the United States, the violence related to ongoing settler-colonialism and the genocide of indigenous communities, the colonization of Puerto Rico and other problematically phrased “US territories”, militarization and incarceration of communities of color, and racism in all its forms.
Dr. Abdulhadi is engaged in every aspect of critical thought and liberation that addresses the injustices toward marginalized peoples in the US and around the world. She is principled and clear in her commitments to the indivisibility of justice. To call her antisemitic is to profoundly and grossly misapply the word, and makes several harmful assumptions about the Jewish people.
As one of the strongest intellectual and ethical guides in academic and activist worlds, Dr. Abulhadi speaks truths that expose the violence and underlying systems of oppression that affect peoples all over the world. In the spirit of the 1968 Student Strike, SFSU’s social justice legacy, led by the Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front, she continues to uplift and center decolonial, anti-colonial, anti-racist struggles, curriculum and pedagogy, a tradition of liberatory practice that as a result of that strike were brought into higher education in response to white supremacy and systems of exploitation and racism at that time. Disturbingly, these attacks try to blame antisemitism in higher education on liberatory knowledge and practices, implicitly condemning the rights of people of color to dismantle colonial and racist practices in institutions of higher learning.
As Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews (JOCSM), we reject structural oppression of any kind and see the work of Dr. Abdulhadi as essential to this fight. We boldly and openly advocate for exposing the unethical, harmful and shameful institutional support for these attacks , whether they are by the state, or in this case by specific organizations that aim to discredit and suppress Palestinian scholarship. This is not a fight of opinions but for equal rights and justice.
Some Jewish spaces teach that it is disgraceful to to speak evil or to gossip about others. It is even more shameful to do so in order to try to cover up atrocities, whether committed by a state on marginalized or occupied peoples or to further one’s own agenda. These attacks on Dr. Abdulhadi expose racism toward people of Arab descent, combined with rampant Islamophobia. They are attacks on all people of color, as they strike at the foundation for full liberation. As JOCSM, we understand how easy people of color are targeted. As JOCSM, we are familiar when White people (including White Jews) feel uncomfortable when structural racism is exposed. Jewish institutions are using this same argument when they are uncomfortable with exposing the state of Israel’s ongoing military occupation and brutality over Palestinians and other non-European Jewish and non-Jewish subjects under its control, as well as being called out for the heinous 50 year occupation and 70 year Nakba on the Palestinian people. Any lawsuits should address the injustices perpetrated on people living under these systems of control, where international humanitarian and human rights law are continuously violated. The focus should clearly be on how Palestinians receive justice for what has been done to their families and communities under occupation and the ongoing Nakba.
Professor Abdulhadi and other scholar-activists like her should be praised for holding up a standard for intellectual and ethical rigor in our society in order to work toward ending brutal practices and to create the world we would like to see for all people. She is a fierce advocate for critical thinking and justice.
We join in demanding SFSU take these actions:
- Refuse to settle this lawsuit conceding any of the slanderous attacks to the San Francisco State faculty and students, and conduct a vigorous and principled legal defense against this complaint; and the Lawfare Project withdraw its lawsuit against SFSU and its attacks on Professor Abdulhadi.
- Publicly and unambiguously defend the academic freedom and the intellectual reputation of our colleague Prof. Abdulhadi, by making a public statement that clears her name of the vicious and absolutely unfounded smear attacks against her, and by doing so to protect the intellectual integrity of SFSU; President Leslie Wong and the SFSU administration as a whole provide immediate support to Professor Abdulhadi and any other scholars and students that are targeted for their legitimate advocacy efforts.
- Publicly, clearly and unambiguously express your moral and financial support for the AMED Studies program and the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU, and defend their fundamental role in the SFSU educational mission;
Without these, it is clear that SFSU is on the wrong side along with those attacking Dr. Abdulhadi. SFSU administration will continue to be a disappointment if it refuses to uphold genuine principles and practices of academic freedom and scholarship along with kowtowing to white supremacy in its many forms, including racism and Islamophobia, that we see plaguing the US in its entirety.
We unequivocally support Professor Abdulhadi in her efforts to share knowledge and show leadership in the face of these attacks, and praise her commitment to continue to educate students and the larger community for a different world.
For further reference:
- Defend Academic Freedom at San Francisco State
- Black Solidarity with Palestine: Letter to President Wong and Cal State Board of Trustees: Protect the General Union of Palestine Students, Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas program, and Professor Rabab Abdulhadi
- Statement of Support for Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, Students and Advocates at SFSU under attack by anti-Arab, Anti-Muslim group