April 15, 2021
VIA EMAIL: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D.
University of California, Merced
5200 North Lake Rd.
Merced, California 95343
Dear Chancellor Muñoz,
We write on behalf of the StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department and the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism, divisions of StandWithUs, an international non-profit Israel education organization. The purpose of our letter concerns an upcoming April 23, 2021 event being run through a UC Merced account on Zoom, “Whose Narratives? What Free Speech for Palestine?” featuring convicted terrorist Leila Khaled. As you may be aware, Khaled has long been—and remains today—a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S. State Department-designated terrorist organization that has murdered Israeli civilians for decades. In this capacity, Khaled is personally responsible for two airplane hijackings, one of which failed in its attempted mass murder of civilian passengers only because of a deficiency in Khaled’s explosive device. The PFLP has committed devastating acts of terrorism, including killing 26 civilians and wounding 80 others at an Israeli airport in 1972.
You may also be aware that Khaled was initially scheduled to speak at San Francisco State University through Zoom on September 23, 2020; however, Zoom determined that Khaled’s appearance violated its terms of service and cancelled the event on its platform. When the event organizers attempted to move Khaled’s speech to different online platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, these companies also deemed her presence to be in violation of their policies. Facebook has already removed an advertisement for the upcoming April 23 event from its platform.
We are grateful for your moral clarity, leadership and decisiveness in responding to our concerns about a UC Merced professor who displayed an alarming hatred for Jews, Israelis and Zionists through a series of discriminatory and antisemitic statements and images on his Twitter account. Your swift action clarified that discriminatory measures driven by bias and hate have no place at UC Merced and that such hate will be met with swift and serious consequences. In response to concerns of rising antisemitism in the University of California system, the Regents of University of California and each of its campuses adopted Principles Against Intolerance. As such, and in line with your previous response, we believe a strong stance here is again necessary.
Constitutional principles may permit such events to occur on public universities in certain circumstances. That is why we are not calling upon you to cancel this event. However, we ask that you take the following actions:
· Use your voice publicly and unequivocally to condemn the glorification of Leila Khaled, and her followers’ support for terrorism and violence against civilians;
· Make clear that glorification of terrorists and violence is wholly antithetical to the values of UC Merced; and
· Express unwavering support for and protection of students within groups that have been targeted for violence by Leila Khaled, such as Jews and Israelis;
In similar instances, other campus administrations have publicly distanced themselves from hateful ideas and conduct, even as they acknowledge the fundamental rights to such free speech and affiliation. For example, administrators at Michigan State University and the University of Florida openly condemned white supremacist Richard Spencer for his bigoted viewpoints and conduct prior to his appearances on each campus. Similarly, administrators from Clovis Community College in central California released a statement clarifying that they did not endorse hateful or antisemitic speech before anti-Israel activist Alison Weir appeared on campus.
Presumably should a notorious white supremacist arrive on campus as an invited speaker, you would immediately condemn that speaker and their associated racism and hate. So too should you unambiguously denounce Khaled’s invitation, as her upcoming presence crosses what should be a bright red line in civil society of whom we honor and to whom we give a podium.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Given the time sensitive nature of this situation, we ask for your response by Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
CEO and Co-Founder
StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department
StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism