California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Letter to San Francisco State University President Wong re: assaults against academic freedom at the campus by zionist organizations

  CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

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Dear President Wong,

We write on behalf of California Scholars for Academic Freedom (cs4af),** an organization of more than 200 academics who teach in some 20 California institutions and who are committed to the defense of academic freedom at our institutions.  We are frankly quite dismayed by your lack of defense of San Francisco State University faculty members (especially Professor Rabab Abdulhadi) and students against the ongoing defamation, intimidation, and assaults against academic freedom by the Zionist organizations The Lawfare Project and the Horowitz Center. 

As you are well aware, The Lawfare Project deliberately uses the legal system as a technique of intimidation and harassment to silence faculty and students in their criticisms of Israel. The Horowitz Center uses defamatory posters that have the potential to incite Islamophobic violence against faculty and students.  San Francisco State University is experiencing both these types of silencing efforts.  Moreover, the same lawsuit that smeared Dr. Abdulhadi’s reputation also made an unsubstantiated claim that the creation of the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU was seminal in creating an alleged anti-Semitic environment at SFSU. 

In the face of this ongoing harassment and intimidation, you were quick to re-assure Zionists that you welcome them to your campus, an action that you have never explained, and which in itself conflates criticisms of Israel with anti-Semitism. But you have remained silent in your lack of defense of those undergoing repeated harassment by Zionists for exercising their academic freedom of expression.  

Professor Rabab Abdulhadi is now facing a third lawsuit by the Lawfare Project, although the previous two were dismissed.  This third lawsuit represents an extreme level of harassment and intimidation by the Lawfare Project.  It is your obligation as president of SFSU to make a public statement against such harassment and in support of all faculty and students to exercise their academic freedom.  Yet you remain silent. 

A capitulation to this lawsuit and to all forms of harassment, intimation and silencing would set a dangerous precedent, whereby outside groups pressure universities into undermining our profession and critical traditions of thought.

We therefore call on you, as President of SFSU to take the following immediate actions:

  1. Prepare a vigorous legal defense of Professor Abdulhadi against this third lawsuit;
  2. Make a public statement that defends the academic freedom and intellectual reputation of Professor Abdulhadi, by clearing her name of the baseless attacks against her, as well as the academic freedom, freedom of speech, and reputations of faculty, staff, and students that have been similarly disparaged;
  3. Publicly explain the circumstances that led to your statement welcoming Zionists to SFSU, taking into serious consideration the concern it caused faculty and students targeted by Zionists;
  4. End the hostile and unsafe work and study environment against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians at SFSU campus that intimidate, bully, silence and police scholarship, teaching and campus protest by faculty, staff and students activists on campus;
  5. Condemn all expressions of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and racism. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Contact Persons:

Lisa Rofel,

Professor Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

LROFEL@ucsc.edu

Vida Samiian,

Professor Emeritus Linguistics and former Dean

California State University, Fresno

vidas@mail.fresnostate.edu

Sondra Hale,

Research Professor and Professor Emerita, Departments of Anthropology and Gender Studies

University of California, Los Angeles

sonhale@ucla.edu

** CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) is a group of scholars who defend academic freedom, the right of shared governance, and the First Amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere. California Scholars for Academic Freedom investigates legislative and administrative infringements on freedom of speech and assembly, and it raises the consciousness of politicians, university regents and administrators, faculty, students and the public at large through open letters, press releases, petitions, statements, and articles.

Cc: Chancellor White

Professor Amy Sueyoshi, Interim​ Dean of Ethnic Studies

 

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