Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, director and senior scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) Studies Program at San Francisco State University has just scored another victory toward building AMED Studies and the protection of her Arab, Muslim and Palestinian students as well as herself. The Superior Court of the State of California affirmed Dr. Abdulhadi’s lawsuit against the university and overruled SF State’s attempts to get the lawsuit thrown out of court. The judge emphasized that the lawsuit stood on firm ground on the issue of SF State exhibiting “employment discrimination” and “failure to prevent this discrimination.” The SFSU administration will have to answer the grievances filed by Professor Abdulhadi that SFSU complicity and engagement in anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Muslim discrimination has only escalated with the increased pressure of pro-Israel supporters on SFSU and relentless attacks against Professor Abdulhadi, her students and the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies program.
Professor Abdulhadi was forced to file the lawsuits in 2018 after over a decade of violations of contractual terms of employment and withholding of support for the AMED program by the university administration. The lawsuit Judge Schulman allowed to proceed centers on Professor Abdulhadi charges that the SFSU administration is preventing the growth of AMED for which she was recruited to build as the fifth department within the College of Ethnic Studies (CoES). The College was created in response to the historic BSU/TWLF 1968 student strike. Dr. Abdulhadi’s lawsuit further charges SFSU with creating a hostile work environment in regards to her position as the program director and only professor, failing to provide legally obligated institutional resources and support for the AMED program and protection for Dr. Abdulhadi, her students and her colleagues who speak up, research and teach about Palestinian freedom.
The SFSU administration’s attempt to have the case dismissed failed as in the case of our second lawsuit in Federal court upheld last year by the presiding judge.
We are on a winning streak!
When we first announced the lawsuits we said that “we have a unique opportunity to go on the offensive now to loosen Israel lobby’s grip on SFSU and deliver justice to Dr. Abdulhadi, her program and her students.” These words ring true today more than ever. SFSU administrators are already on the defensive, having failed to provide an alternative venue and institutional support for the open classroom, Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice and Resistance: A Conversation with Leila Khaled,” that was censored by Zoom, YouTube and Facebook. This violation of academic freedom and the power of private tech giants to veto classroom content has already received national coverage. Demands are rising to end Zoom’s monopoly over online education video conferencing and to stop SF State and other universities from enabling these monopolies through their exclusive contracts which have bulldozed the collective right to academic freedom and have been weaponized to censor teaching about Palestine in classrooms.