Samidoun statement of solidarity with Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi against racist “lawfare” attacks

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses our strongest solidarity with Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi as she confronts racist attacks, including a federal lawsuit launched by right-wing Zionist organizations.

The “Lawfare Project” filed a lawsuit against Prof. Abdulhadi, director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) program at San Francisco State University (SFSU) as well as several SFSU administrators, attempting to accuse them of creating a “hostile environment” for Jewish students on campus.

Far from reflecting reality, this lawsuit is only the latest in a slew of attacks launched by Zionist organizations in an attempt to silence Palestinian activism, narratives and scholarship and to criminalize Palestinian students, faculty and education itself within the U.S. academy. At SFSU and beyond, Prof. Abdulhadi and Palestinian and Arab students – for example, the members of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) at SFSU, of which Prof. Abdulhadi serves as faculty mentor – have been subject to a series of assaults.

Racist posters bearing crude likenesses and lists of names, labeling faculty and students as “supporters of terrorism,” have repeatedly been posted on campus at the behest of David Horowitz’s so-called “Freedom Center” in an attempt to intimidate and silence support for Palestine. Anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism have run rampant on campus with little check from university officials.

It should also be noted that this latest attack by the Lawfare Project comes following numerous attempts to stop SFSU’s partnership with An-Najah University in Palestine, to prevent Dr. Abdulhadi from doing her work and to silence student activism for Palestine and GUPS organizing on campus. From AMCHA to the Simon Wiesenthal Center to Campus Watch, Stand With US, Middle East Forum and a number of other Zionist organizations, her work and scholarship has been a major target of coordinated attacks.

It should be noted that the lawsuit is an attack not only on Palestinian scholarship but on the College of Ethnic Studies, defending itself for years from defunding. It is an attack on, as Prof. Abdulhadi herself wrote, “the spirit of ’68,” of the movements on and on campus: Black, Latinx, Asian, Palestinian, Arab and other social justice, anti-racist and anti-colonial movements struggling for self-determination, confronting imperialism and reclaiming their scholarship and narratives. The College was created out of the 1968 student strike, and the Lawfare Project attempts to depict Ethnic Studies itself as leading to a “disturbing and consistent pattern of anti-Jewish animus,” thus attacking all anti-colonial, anti-racist scholarship that emphasizes oppressed peoples.

Further, we also are clear that this lawfare attack is part and parcel of the criminalization of Palestinian organizing and resistance. Prof. Abdulhadi has come under attack for leading programs like the Prison, Labor and and Academic Delegation to Palestine, building connections between Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and U.S. political prisoners and liberation movements. She has been attacked repeatedly for meeting with major Palestinian political figures like Leila Khaled, a prime example of the use of “anti-terror” rhetoric and legislative threats to silence Palestinian academia and activism.

The campaign has attempted also to criminalize Palestinian student organizing both in the United States and in Palestine, attempting to demonize students at An-Najah University as unacceptable and illegitimate just as those same students face daily night raids and arrests by Israeli occupation forces. This rhetoric comes hand in hand with the attempts to shut down GUPS and other students mobilizing for Palestine on the SFSU campus by targeting them with false claims of anti-Semitism, when in fact they are deeply committed to anti-racist and liberatory struggle.

This groundless lawsuit by the Lawfare Project is yet another attempt to marginalize and suppress Palestinian narratives and realities. From the targeting and deportation of former prisoner and community leader Rasmea Odeh, to the imprisonment of the Holy Land Five, to the surveillance of mosques, community groups and student organizations by police and FBI, to the promotion of anti-BDS legislation, to “anti-terror” laws and “terror” labeling that mirror Israeli occupation lists and labels and seek to silence and suppress Palestinian and solidarity organizing, we stand against all of these attacks and support those on the front lines confronting repression.

We join with many other organizations, students and faculty across the United States and around the world, in support of Prof. Abdulhadi against this malicious lawsuit. We call upon SFSU and the CSU system to provide Prof. Abdulhadi with independent, high-quality legal representation of her choice at no cost to ensure that she receives a thorough and proper defense, and we demand that the university and CSU system publicly and clearly uphold Prof. Abdulhadi’s academic freedom rights, defend her academic integrity, and refuse to settle this lawsuit in any way that concedes to any of the allegations made.

We also express our full support to all of the students and faculty targeted in the ongoing racist posters and attacks on California university campuses and emphasize the importance of official university support and proper funding for the AMED program and the College of Ethnic Studies. Defending these programs and the right to not only protect but expand and enhance Palestinian scholarship is critical to confronting these racist attempts to silence and intimidate.

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