September 23, 2020
Jewish groups praised Zoom for deplatforming an upcoming San Francisco State University (SFSU) webinar featuring Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Leila Khaled.
The Lawfare Project announced in a Sept. 22 press release a spokesperson told the legal group, “Zoom is committed to supporting the open exchange of ideas and conversations, subject to certain limitations contained in our Terms of Service, including those related to user compliance with applicable U.S. export control, sanctions, and anti-terrorism laws. In light of the speaker’s reported affiliation or membership in a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and SFSU’s inability to confirm otherwise, we determined the meeting is in violation of Zoom’s Terms of Service and told SFSU they may not use Zoom for this particular event.”
A spokesperson for Zoom confirmed to the Journal that Zoom told SFSU the university can’t use the platform for the Khaled event.
Jewish groups praised Zoom’s decision.
“Bravo to @zoom_us, that indispensable app, for refusing to be used as a platform for the antisemitic terrorist Leila Khaled,” the American Jewish Committee tweeted. “If only @SFSU had the same moral compass.”
StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “We commend Zoom for setting a powerful precedent by refusing to allow the normalization of terrorism on its platform. It is now clearer than ever that SFSU must take action against this outrageous event and the dangerous environment it creates for Jewish and Israeli students.
“Bigger picture, this event is being hosted by a program in SFSU’s College of Ethnic Studies, as the CSU system is deciding how to implement an ethnic studies graduation requirement for all students. CSU must act now to prevent the exploitation of this requirement to promote hate and bias for generations to come.”
San Francisco Hillel executive director Rachel Nilson Ralston also said in a statement to the Journal, “We are relieved that Zoom, who provides such a vital tool to our students, is equally concerned with their technology serving as a platform to amplify hate and violence. SF Hillel and partners will move forward with our vigil tomorrow evening as planned to affirm our values and vision for our campus.”
Stop Antisemitism.org also tweeted, “Thank you @LawfareProject and @GoldsteinBrooke for your continued effort on stopping Jew hatred!”
On Sept. 14, The Lawfare Project had sent a letter to Zoom arguing that the video conference platform could be in violation of federal law if it allowed the SFSU webinar to go on as planned, given that the State Department has designated the PFLP as a terror group. The letter argued that Zoom providing a platform for Khaled to speak essentially amounted to providing a “service to a member of a foreign terrorist organization.”
Khaled had been set to speak as part of SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities Diaspora (AMED) Studies department’s Zoom webinar. Other panelists included were Rula Abu Dahou, acting director of the Institute for Women’s Studies at Birzeit University in the West Bank; South African politician Ronnie Kasrils; former Black Liberation Army member Sekou Odinga; and Jewish Voice for Peace member Laura Whitehorn. SFSU professors Rabab Abdulhadi and Tomomi Kinukawa had been set to co-moderate the panel and the event.
AMED Studies at SFSU wrote on their Facebook page, “Zoom has threatened to cancel this webinar and silence Palestinian narratives. We expect SFSU/CSU to uphold our freedom of speech and academic freedom by providing an alternative venue to this open classroom. We will see you tomorrow at 12:30 pm (PST) at the Zoom webinar.” SFSU is part of the Cal State University (CSU) system.
The Twitter account BDS Report tweeted, “When you hijack two planes in an act of terrorism and threaten to take the lives of everyone onboard, you forfeit your right to free speech. Terrorism is not academic freedom.”
AMED Studies wrote in a subsequent Facebook post that the event is going to be streamed on its Facebook page.
Khaled, now 76, was among the terrorists who hijacked commercial jetliners in 1969 and ’70. Her attempt to detonate grenades on the 1970 flight were thwarted and no one was injured or killed in either incident.
During the day on Sept. 22, several Jewish groups — including The Lawfare Project, Club Z and Yad Yamin — sponsored a protest in front Zoom’s headquarters in San Jose, Calif.
“THIS is what Jewish solidarity looks like,” Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein tweeted. “And THIS is what gets results. We canceled a terrorist Jew hater from Zoom #EndJewHatred.”
SFSU did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
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