Strong Jewish Leadership Shuts Down Terrorist Speaker
Many of us have witnessed the failure of Jewish leaders who choose appeasement over standing strong against antisemitism. We understand the importance of speaking up for our rights. We are happy to report two major wins by strong leaders who chose to fight back in the face of egregious wrongs.
There was a time when hosting a terrorist at a major American university would be worse than unacceptable. Now, in the year 2020, a terrorist is just considered a “public figure” who may be invited to teach students. Enter Leila Khaled, a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Khaled hijacked a plane bound for Tel Aviv in 1969, and an El Al flight in 1970. The PFLP is recognized as a terrorist organization. She was invited by San Francisco State University to lecture students. Many letters, articles and petitions were sent to SFSU’s president Lynn Mahoney to protest Khaled’s appearance. Mahoney doubled down, saying “higher education and the college experience are an opportunity to hear divergent ideas, viewpoints and accounts of life experiences.” In 2020, it seems, support for terrorism is just a divergent idea.
Since the University was determined to host a terrorist, Club Z leader Masha Merkulova led a campaign to protest at Zoom headquarters, since Zoom would be the platform for the event. The Lawfare project was also key to the effort, making clear to Zoom Corporation that it would be opening itself up to criminal liability for providing material support or resources to a terrorist group. With the hashtag “EndJewHatred” Ms Merkulova garnered the support of speakers and demonstrators with the goal of ousting Khaled. On Sept 22, just before the EndJewHatred rally, Zoom reported it would not be providing a platform for the event after all, as this would be a violation of its terms of service.
The University tried to switch to Facebook, but when informed they were touting a terrorist, the ad for the webinar was taken down. The event was moved to YouTube, which began to live stream the talk but pulled it down after 23 minutes.
NCCI is very grateful to Ms Merkulova of Club Z, Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project, and all those who assisted in the effort. They and others are building a new civil rights movement for Jews! Stay tuned as we learn more.
Another Victory — AntiSemitic Bill Vetoed!
The second win involves the threat of further indoctrination of our youth against Jews and Israel. California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has already approved AB 1430, mandating a biased ethnic studies course for California State University. What followed was a push to expand this program into the California high school system (bill AB 331).
The course would include a unit on “Irish and Jewish Americans: Redefining White and American.” It would require students to write a paper “detailing certain events in American history that have led to Jewish and Irish Americans gaining racial privilege” and ask students to “think critically about why and who is allowing this evolution in white identity.” For Jewish students, already targets of antisemitism, the additional charge of racial privilege places them at even further risk. Also, Jewish families throughout the state expressed concern about the program’s anti-Zionist bias, in that California’s ethnic studies program promotes the antisemitic/anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin spearheaded an effort to educate Governor Newsom on the problematic nature of the Ethnic Studies program with regard to Jewish Americans. NCCI was pleased to add our support to her letter and campaign against the program. Many thanks to our members who made phone calls to protest bill AB 331.
Due to everyone’s efforts, we are pleased to report that on September 30, Governor Newsom vetoed the bill! He did say that it needs revision, so it is unclear yet what the next steps will be.
The take-home lesson from these wins is that fighting back works!