San Francisco
San Francisco
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

Zionists Terrorize Faculty and Students At SF State With The Collusion Of University Bosse

by repost
Zionists are terrorizing faculty and students at SF State. The University President Lee Wong has colluded with the Zionists who he agrees with but in continuing to attack the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies (AMED) with budget cuts that prevent it from carrying out it's mission with only one faculty member.
Zionists Terrorize Faculty and Students At SF State With The Collusion Of University Bosses

Islamophobia at Home at San Francisco State University
09/24/2017 07:48 pm ET Updated 3 days ago

The bigots are at it again. New posters have been popping up on college campuses in a smear campaign aimed at vilifying academics and students who are vocal on the Israeli Colonialism Project in Palestine. The most recent wave of defamatory posters appeared at San Francisco State University, U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Irvine; they are the product of David Horowitz’s “Freedom Center,” a far-right organization focused on anti-Muslim activism. Horowitz, as described in a report by the Center for American Progress is a prominent figure instrumental in demonizing Islam and spreading fear about an Islamic takeover of Western society.

Since the election of President Trump and the rise of white supremacist groups, Antisemitism and Islamophobia have dramatically increased across the United States. Exploiting this atmosphere of hate and xenophobia, pro-Israel groups have intensified their attacks on advocates for Palestinian rights, as well as supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, Mexicans, immigrants and Muslims.

These latest attacks on academics, activists and students, are not isolated incidents; they are part and parcel of an overarching strategy to demonize Israel critics and vilify Muslims. Similar defamatory ads have targeted Israeli critics on several other US college campuses in the past, and Muslims across the country have been subject to both physical and psychological harassment provoked by ads on public transit systems purchased by the pro-Israel, Houston-based American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) with a declared agenda of whipping up anti-Muslim sentiment across the US.

The San Francisco Bay Area, recognized as one of the most liberal regions in the nation, has recently been witnessing a plethora of activities by hatemongers and right-wing extremists, who under the guise of free speech, have descended on college campuses to incite, spew hate and plant the seed of division between communities. A series of talks organized by right wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to kick off on September 24, 2017 at U.C. Berkeley. Milo who promised to attract a bevy of high-profile speakers, such as Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon was greeted by dozens of counter-protesters on Sunday and spoke for only 15 minutes.

Such appearances, mostly brief, since February, by Milo and similar-minded speakers have cost UCB in the neighborhood of $1.4 million to provide security for these events. The university estimates the expenses incurred to be $200,000 for Milo’s appearance; $600,00 to host Ann Coulter (whose event ultimately was canceled by the sponsoring campus groups); and $600,000 for a recent talk by conservative writer Ben Shapiro.

By no coincidence, just a few days before Milo’s most recent highly publicized event, defamatory posters appeared on the grounds of San Francisco State University, U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Irvine. The posters, printed in the style of Wild West Wanted posters, target professors, students and activists from different ethnicities, including Muslims and Jews, whose common thread is that they advocate for social justice and Palestinian rights.

At San Francisco State University, the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies (AMED) is a case in point. Not only has Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, Director & Senior Scholar at AMED, been pictured on virulent hate posters plastered campus-wide, she has also been named in a lawsuit filed in June 2017 by the Lawfare Project, a shadowy organization that advocates the “use of the law as a weapon of war against critics of Israel”. The lawsuit, filed against SFSU and several university administrators in addition to Dr. Abdulhadi alleges that SFSU willfully engaged in Antisemitism by fostering a campus climate that is hostile to Jewish students. The lawsuit cites an incident in the Spring of 2016, when a coalition of students representing a multiplicity of communities, ethnicities, and backgrounds who stand in solidarity for the freedom of Palestine, protested a speech by the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat for his role in enforcing Israel’s occupation over a divided city and for his incitement against Palestinian communities. Most of the allegations are based on a false conflation of the criticism of Israel’s actions with Antisemitism: parallels that have been soundly rejected and refuted by many Jews, including members of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

Professor Abdulhadi is no stranger to smear campaigns by pro-Israel groups whose attacks against her have continued to amplify since AMED was founded. Some examples are: 1) having her name and personal information circulated on Canary Mission, a website created to slander student, faculty, and community activists for Palestinian rights as extremist, anti-Semitic, and sympathetic to terrorism 2) being accused of misusing university funds by another pro-Israel group called the AMCHA initiative, which employs tactics to stifle debate on Israel on college campuses. These accusations triggered numerous audits and investigations conducted by SFSU and California State University; Dr. Abdulhadi was exonerated by all of them.

While in most cases, false allegations are quickly refuted by the students and academics, they do exert a financial and emotional toll on those subjected to these smear campaigns, subverting the learning process and threatening academic freedom. Only when academic institutions succumb to the bullying tactics do the fear-mongers win. Shortly after the defamatory posters appeared on its campus, U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ sent out an email to students, faculty and staff condemning these “cowardly acts in the strongest possible terms”. She promised an investigation by the U.C. police department.

Meanwhile, the President of San Francisco State University Les Wong remains AWOL. In one instance, SFSU refused to have any of the posters removed, claiming them to be legitimate free speech instruments. President Wong has made no mention of hate speech and threats directed at the Muslim and other minority communities involved in the incident at issue. Instead, he has chosen to convene a task force on September 26 to address “Campus Climate;” however, the focus in the academic year of 2017 - 2018 has been defined solely to address “the safety of Jewish students on campus, the eradication of Antisemitism, and the improvement of Jewish community relations with the campus.” Following this initial focus, according to a letter sent by Wong on September 1, 2017, “the Task Force will expand to consider Islamophobia”.

Consider, President Wong? No need to consider, Islamophobia is alive and well on SFSU campus, and refusing to acknowledge it is tantamount to promoting it

Tweets by ‎@JamalDajani
Jamal Dajani جمال Retweeted ✔@haaretzcom
Israel is arming war criminals | Haaretz Editorial

Israel is arming criminals
Lawmakers from across the spectrum should come together to put an immediate stop to Israel's weapons sales to Myanmar, where crimes against humanity are being committed

Jamal Dajani جمال Retweeted
JewishVoiceForPeace ✔@jvplive
US police learn violent techniques designed to maintain military occupation of a civilian population … #DeadlyExchange

Sep 26, 2017

<1qvIlQ1r_bigger.jpg>Jamal Dajani جمال ✔@JamalDajani
Woobeedoo! The Medieval Kingdom edging into the 20th century.

Sep 26, 2017

<1qvIlQ1r_bigger.jpg>Jamal Dajani جمال ✔@JamalDajani
This is US territory, these are US citizens

Sep 25, 2017

Some Palestinian students and faculty do not feel safe at SF State.
A two-day informational panel lead by Dr. Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, SF State Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora studies, for SF State’s Constitution Day, featured a discussion on academic freedom for professors who stand up for marginalized students and the College of Ethnic Studies.

“We should not be afraid of walking on our own campus,” Abdulhadi said. “People who know me know that I do not walk alone in campus anymore. I am very afraid.”

Last fall, posters were put up on campus that depicted an illustration of Dr. Abdulhadi with this statement next to it: “a leader of the Hamas BDS campaign; collaborator with terrorists; San Francisco State professor.”

Just last week, on Thursday, Sept. 21, posters were plastered across campus from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an extreme Zionist group unaffiliated with SF State, including an illustration of Abdulhadi labeling her a terrorist.

Alongside tangible posters on campus, a website called Canary Mission poses Palestinian professors and students at SF State as a threat to America. The site is run by “students and concerned citizens” who, according to Canary Mission, publish “freely available material gathered from publicly available sources.” The information and claims made on this site are not proven.

The site also attacks students involved in the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) from SF State and puts personal information behind photos of students.

“They do this because they want to silence us on campus,” Abdulhadi said. “The reason ‘terrorist’ is used all the time and the reason that I’m labeled a terrorist is because when Americans think of terrorists they think of a bomb exploding. They use this to create fear and divide us on campus.”

The panel on Monday, Sept. 18 also brought forward the universal theory of free speech and the reality of who has the right to exercise it, which included a comment on GUPS’s and other students’ intent for protesting Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s visit last year – an event which later resulted in a lawsuit against the campus.

The lawsuit, spearheaded by the pro-Israel organization The Lawfare Project, accused GUPS of trying to silence the Jewish community and the right to their First Amendment and, furthermore, accused the University of anti-Semitic behavior of not punishing GUPS activists more severely.

Saleem Shehadeh, a graduate from UC Davis (BA) and SF State (MA) in Anthropology and AMED Studies as well as a member of GUPS, said that Barkat did speak and finished his speech. GUPS voiced their opinion and protested due to what they believe Barkat represents.

“We have to analyze who he [Barkat] is, and the power in dynamics he holds,” Shehadeh said. “His speech is not neutral, his speech represents murder and violence.”

Blanca Misse, a panelist speaker and SF State faculty member from the French department, also added to the conversation, comparing Barkat to Milo Yiannopoulos, a British right-wing spokesman.

“These are not just speakers, they are political representatives,” Misse said. “If you’re inviting a representative of the colonial murder to your campus, you are reporting this violence to your campus. We need to separate freedom of speech that is interested in intellectual debate and other speech that reinforces biases in society and are there to cover bullying and violence.”

Abdulhadi explained in the panel that the accusation of GUPS being a threatening organization is false.

Oscar Rendon/Golden Gate Xpress
“Barkat was able to finish his speech, shook hands with university officials and exited from the main door,” Abdulhadi said. “The report by the independent investigator the university hired confirmed that the Barkat protest was neither anti-Semitic nor violent toward Jewish or non-Jewish members of the audience.”

The conflict between Palestine and Israel has affected students on college campuses across the nation and it continues to run deep at SF State.

“There’s 70 years of pain that is behind all of this and they’re [Palestinian students and staff] very justified in the way they feel,” Lex De La Herran, a member of SF Hillel speaking as a Jewish individual on campus, said.

The panel called out far-right groups like the David Project and David Horowitz Freedom Center, which are not clubs at SF State. It is also important to note that although SF Hillel is an organization for many Jewish students at SF State, it does not encompass the Jewish community as a whole on campus.

“I thought that a lot of the points that they [the panelists] brought up were pretty valid,” De La Herran said. “However, I felt that it was unfair to group SF Hillel alongside some of the right-wing groups that have done those attacks … that’s not what the Jewish community here at SF State is about. None of us had a hand in doing any of these activities.”

The struggle for free speech that Palestinians in Palestine and Israel face mirror the hurdles that students in America, California and San Francisco face day by day. According to Liz Jackson, a panelist at the event from Palestine Legal, “advocates for freedom on campus face massive assault on their First Amendment rights.”

“Last year there was 258 reports of suppression to Palestinian rights,” she said. “The scope is large– it’s happening coast to coast and though San Francisco State is one major goal for organizations to suppress Palestinian rights, it’s not the only target, this is happening in many campuses, over 75.”

This international issue has put up literal walls between Palestine and Israel and metaphorical walls between pro-Palestine and pro-Israel students on campus, resulting in a climate of fear and lack of right to exercise their free speech as Palestinians at SF State.

“The GUPS, they’re barely able to go to class,” Jackson said. “They’re afraid of the media, it’s a really stressful event for them. You can’t have a dialogue with people when you’re constantly accusing them of being anti-Semitic.”

Resolution in Defense of Prof. Abdulhadi and Students
December 13, 2016
Whereas a number of fliers were posted on the San Francisco State University campus on or around October 15, 2016; and

Whereas these posters targeted a faculty member of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies, of Arab and Muslim descent, smearing her by stating that she is a “collaborator with terrorists” and anti-Semitic (“#jewhatred”); and

Whereas other posters targeted students who were organizing a forum on Palestine and by implication suggested they were collaborating with terrorists and anti-Semitic; and

Whereas the posters are claimed by both the Canary Mission and the Horowitz Freedom Center; and

Whereas the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State has released a statement in which it “condemns’s threats against one of our professorial colleagues, its reliance on an anonymous website that has targeted several of our undergraduate students, and its vandalism of our campus;” and

Whereas the targets of these posters have expressed fears for their physical safety;

Whereas leading members of the California Faculty Assoc. at SFSU have strongly condemned the posters and have called on “the university to take definitive legal action to stop these slanderous, libelous attacks and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all who live, work, and learn at SFSU;”

Therefore Be It Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council call on San Francisco State President Wong to unambiguously defend the academic freedom and the intellectual reputation of Prof. Abdulhadi; and

Be It Further Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council call on President Wong to publicly and unambiguously defend the academic freedom and the right of free speech of Palestinian students, faculty and staff; and

Be It Further Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council call on President Wong to publicly and unambiguously condemn all forms of hate speech, including anti-Arab racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and to take all the necessary actions to stop hate speech on campus; and

Be it Further Resolved that we call on Chancellor White to take full action against the authors of the fliers; and

Be It Finally Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council send this resolution to President Wong at San Francisco State University and Chancellor White of the CSU.

Adopted by the California Faculty Association-SFSU Executive Board on December 13, 2016
Add Your Comments

Comments (Hide Comments)
by repost
Poster against hate speech
Fight Racism and Islamophobia at SFSU: Stop the intimidation of Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and her students

Help Fight Islamophobia at SFSU. Support Palestinian and Muslim Faculty Member Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and the Students at San Francisco State University


They disagreed with her work on Palestine, so they plastered posters across campus calling her a terrorist and a Jew-hater.

Professor Rabab Abdulhadi of the Arab Muslim and Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies program has filed several grievances against San Francisco State University for the hostile and unsafe work and study environment for Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs on campus. Your generous donation will contribute to the legal defense fund against Islamophobia, anti-Arab discrimination and hostility to Palestinians at SFSU campus and to supporting the AMED Studies program against destruction.


The Story

Since 2010, Dr. Abdulhadi has been working as a one-person program acting as faculty, staff, and fighting against overt and covert manifestations of Islamophobia and racism against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians on SFSU campus. Over the past year, SFSU campus has been subjected to multiple attacks by David Horowitz who has been identified as a, “driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black movements” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. On October 14, 2016 and May 3, 2017, students found in plain view dozens of racist, bullying posters that target student advocates for justice in/for Palestine, including members of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), and Professor Rabab Abdulhadi and the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) Studies program, the only program to focus on Arab and Muslim communities in the US and center social justice and Palestinian history, culture and social movements.



One year later, the SFSU administration has yet to respond to protect Dr. Abdulhadi and the targeted students. It is right to have the freedom to advocate for justice in/for Palestine. It is right to feel safe on campus. It is wrong to call someone a terrorist or an anti-Semite just because you don't agree with them. It is wrong to intimidate students. It is wrong to stop education.


These relentless bullying attacks by several right-wing pro-Israel groups such as David Horowitz, Canary Mission, AMCHA, Campus Watch, Stand With US, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Middle East Forum and the Zionist Organization of America are deliberate. They seek to smear Dr. Abdulhadi’s reputation and damage her standing as a scholar, teacher and public intellectual and destroy the AMED Studies program in the process.


SFSU Administration needs to fulfill its commitment to Dr. Abdulhadi and AMED communities and institutionally support the building of the AMED Studies program as a viable and stable program to educate the university community on and off campus and challenge Islamophobia, anti-Arab discrimination and hostility to Palestinians on SFSU campus.

The grievances have already been filed in March of 2017. It will soon move into the hearing phase of the grievances.

Your generous donation will contribute to the legal defense fund against Islamophobia, anti-Arab dis
Dear Colleagues and friends:

A right wing Zionist organization, the Lawfare project, has filed a lawsuit against my university, and named me as co-defendant. This is an attempt to silence us, get rid of our presence in the form of the AMED Studies program, the General Union of Palestinian Students and me at SFSU. So while the lawsuit is frivolous, bogus and full of false allegations, misrepresentations and mischaracterization as Palestine Legal puts it the US (and Israeli) media basically reprinted the Zionist press release without bothering to check the facts The Los Angeles Times; Newsweek; The Washington Post and even Inside Higher Education.

Worse yet, SFSU came out with aa statement that contradicted the findings of the independent investigator the university hired last year ans who found that the student protest was not against Jewish students and community but against Israel and Nir Barakat More recently anti-Zionist Jewish activists also testified that these charges are bogus and even wrote about them

We are beginning to see support from California Scholars for Academic Freedom California Scholars for Academic Freedom and the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Middle East Studies Association. Other academic association are working on statements.

My union colleagues and other activists scholars and academic are drafting a petition for individual scholars to sign. This is in the works but will be forthcoming shortly.

However we need support from organizations and individuals in our communities in different parts of the world. Please let us if you can have our/my back.


Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, PhD
Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies
College of Ethnic Studies
San Francisco State University
Abdulhadi Rabab Ibrahim

Pro-Israel ‘gatekeepers’ at California university shut down search for Edward Said scholar, a candidate says
US Politics Philip Weiss on July 2, 2017 15 Comments

In April, administrators at California State University at Fresno canceled a search to fill the Edward Said Chair in Middle East Studies after a committee came up with four finalists, all of whom were reported to be of “Middle Eastern background” and to be focused on Palestinian issues. The head of the Middle East Studies program then resigned in protest over the cancellation of the search; in doing so, Vida Samiian wrote that pro-Israel advocacy groups and individuals had applied pressure to end the hiring process– with one colleague writing, “I wonder if you know how concerned the Jewish community is on campus and outside about the finalists for the Middle East search.”

The episode has recalled the abrupt firing of Steven Salaita by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 2014 after a campaign by Israel advocates and donors to cancel his contract because of his tweets critical of Israel’s assault on Gaza that summer. Salaita, a professor at Virginia Tech, has reportedly said that the Fresno/Said professorship cancellation looks “damn near identical” to his own case.

On June 30th, one of the finalists published a piece titled, “Notes from a Finalist,” under the byline “Anonymous,” at the Abolition website. Here it is, followed by Vida Samiian’s resignation letter of May.

Notes from a Finalist: On the cancelled Edward Said Professorship search at Cal State Fresno

Steven Salaita recently stated, “If an entire nationality/ethnic group/political concern is going to be systematically excluded from Western universities, then the sources of that exclusion need to be vigorously identified and condemned.” For those groups that have historically been the targets of systemic forms of discrimination, the burden of proof is often beyond reach in the public court of appeal. While there is evidence of denial of life opportunities, how the denial was effected remains obscure and not readily traceable.

Proceduralism—the idea that established criteria govern the validity of a procedure’s outcome—has been the rule in enacting institutional discrimination. As Salaita is painfully aware, proceduralism is the loophole for backdoor politics.

California State University Fresno using the pretext of procedural errors to terminate the Edward Said Chair in Middle East Studies (MES) search, at the very last hour, is a case in point. The search had been underway for many months: a large pool of applicants was reduced to a long-list of candidates. The long-list were vetted via video interviews and then reduced further to a final four candidates. The four candidates were each invited for a complex series of campus interviews. At the point when the Search Committee had submitted a rank ordered list of the finalists to the Dean for an offer to be made, the administration terminated the entire search, citing procedural errors as to how the Search Committee was formed.

As one of the finalists, I find the appeal to procedural details flagrantly disingenuous. Once the administration claimed ‘procedural errors’, it closed off any questioning of the validity of their decree. The burden of proof has, instead, been cast elsewhere, onto the Director of the Middle East Studies program and founder of the Said Chair, Vida Samiian. Professor Samiian resigned in objection to the abrupt cancellation, on grounds that it was not procedural errors but discrimination at play against the four finalists’ ethnic backgrounds and focus of scholarship. The finalists are all Palestinian and/or Arab-Americans. The context and grounds of her resignation are detailed in her publicly available resignation letter.

The strength of the Israeli lobby lies in not always acting as outside pressure but also in functioning from inside institutions thanks to individuals who occupy gate-keeping positions, and from the strategic position of the insider post, enact their commitment to Israel in and through everyday administrative tasks. At a certain level, this is unsurprising. But increasingly ideological support of Zionism has led to everyday negation of anything Palestinian that crosses their desks and scope of power. And since these quiet forms of violence are not readily traceable, the onus continuously falls on those suffering discrimination to prove the same cause in each and every case.

While through freedom of information it is in some cases possible to know of the ‘outside’ pressure against critique of Israel, it is highly difficult to document the working of figures ‘inside’ a given institution. Key individuals who know well the legal formalities can ensure ideological opposition is executed in such a way that no one can prove what undergirds the process of cancellation. Or how such actions would enact the wishes of other faculty members who cooperated to find such loopholes. This is precisely how anti-Palestinian discrimination becomes business as usual, beyond the spectacle.

The quiet workings of gatekeepers on the ‘inside’ function alongside visibly public techniques to smear critics of Israeli state policy with anti-Semitism and to criminalize the non-violent civil tactic of boycott when invoked as part of opposition to Israeli state policy. This is evidenced in the recent ‘concerns’ raised about N. Bruce Duthu, a scholar of Native American background and Dean at Dartmouth College. Duthu was accused of “supporting a movement [BDS] that is substantially anti-Semitic…” in the words of Dartmouth economist Alan Gustman, so legitimating Duthu’s resignation.

When Israeli lobbyists adopt these tactics in academic contexts, university administrators want to run the other direction, at all costs, abandoning their critical sensibilities in the process. While the onus should be on these individuals and groups to prove how political support for Palestinian rights is inherently anti-Semitic, in practice the tactic so inspires fear in university administrators that they act to give credibility to the false allegation of anti-Semitism.

The tactic succeeds because accusations of anti-Semitism evoke a shameful association with the Holocaust, and therefore a potential association with anti-Jewish racism. The violence of the accusation closes down critical thought processes in an emotional manner, which is the intended reaction. The illogical links we are being asked to accept in such claims are thereby easily overlooked, namely, why is commitment to and the possibility of a thriving Palestinian humanity inherently anti-Semitic?

The answer lies in the simple fact these illogical links have been normalized. Prevailing notions of a thriving Israel have come to depend on erasure of Palestinian humanity. Israeli humanity depends on Palestinians not being perceived, and hence, not being treated as human.

The underlying concern of Israeli state supporters lies well outside the confines of academia, therefore. It is as if the existence of anything Palestinian itself casts doubt on Zionism as a benign and just ideology. Such a concern is a natural outcome of a national mythology in which Palestinians should not exist. Other indigenous people are well aware of what it means to be a ‘problem’ in the coveted land of a settler state. That Israel itself is a settler state remains, however, the last taboo, as Edward Said once remarked.

As one of the four finalists for the Edward Said Chair, I returned from the campus interview to experience a prolonged waiting period. When the news was finally delivered, I did not learn whether I had gotten the position or not. Rather, the email informed me that the position had been cancelled altogether, due to unforeseen administrative issues. Given the work and collective investment that went into preparing for the Said Chair appointment over many months, the end came as a shutdown followed by silencing.

For the record, the campus interviews were conducted non-stop from 9-6, and included a research talk, teaching presentation, separate interviews with Deans from two different colleges, interview with the Chair of the Philosophy Department, with the Search Committee and with others. Strangely one of the procedural errors cited is that there were no philosophy faculty members on the Search Committee, as the MES program is currently housed in Philosophy. Since the Chair of Philosophy interviewed the finalists it is peculiar that he did not at the time object to the absence of a faculty member of his department on the Search Committee; perhaps a gag order has been imposed on any faculty contradicting official narrative regarding the search.

Additionally, prior to receiving the four finalists on campus, the Search Committee conducted telephone interviews with two of my references. Each interview involved an international call lasting one hour. Detailed questions were asked relating to my credentials for the position. Neither of my references had ever experienced the like in their long academic careers. This is only one example of the level of meticulous professionalism from the Search Committee evident throughout the selection process.

The processes of academic job searches, all the more for appointment to named chairs, are routinely vetted at every stage by various tiers of university administration. Given how meticulous the search process was, the burden of proof should here fall on the university’s administration to substantiate their belated alleged procedural claims.

Yet, this is precisely the virtue of proceduralism in the hands of an abusive administration; it can be drawn upon at any stage as a reason unto itself, with scant evidence at hand, even at the conclusion of a long and vigilant academic search and selection.

At present, the administration intends to rerun the search next year while actively ignoring the finalists in the current search, the damage done to those who had already gone through the rigorous vetting process, or to the candidate whose job offer was imminent. The silence is expressive and represents a complete disregard of the investment of those who applied, who stood as references, who worked to select, only to be told that it was all a procedural error. That the administration is already, and casually, focusing on next year’s search only underscores this brazen erasure.

And even here the status of Palestinians weighs heavily. If not for their systemic discrimination, the finalists could complain or sue publicly. But while I may have been one of the finalists, I cannot write in my name. Any publicity such an act might entail would ensure punishment in any future job searches, in similar untraceable ways, as another name on the Israeli lobby’s effective but untraceable blacklist. As with all targets of systemic bigotry, for the blacklist there is nothing but a profile and the credentials we carry for the job at hand become null and void.

CSU Fresno’s administration has grossly undermined the academic integrity of all parties involved in this search, of its own faculty members on the Search Committee, including the professional assessment of the Equal Employment Opportunity representative, whose specific role was to monitor for discrimination. The finalists, the MES Program and its Director Vida Samiian, who felt compelled to resign as a protest against the injustice which otherwise would have been met by silent impunity, terror as usual, have all been damaged by this administrative blow.

That the administration is now trying to malign Professor Samiian to save face rather than to reinstate the appointment after facing international condemnation, only discredits the university’s reputation further. This spin and smear tactic is a well-worn tool of those on the wrong side of history. Samiian’s exemplary track record as a scholar and well-respected leader, committed to the university and the wider community over many years, speaks for itself. It is Samiian who here upholds Said’s intellectual legacy in practice, while knowing the formidable odds she faced in trying to hold powerful institutions to account.

The administration has responded by delimiting the Edward Said Professorship in Middle Eastern Studies—an interdisciplinary position—to only Philosophy and English in next season’s search, and that against the wishes of the MES Program. Eliminating the social sciences—one of the foundations of an Area Studies program—from the Professorship will conveniently exclude those disciplines that relate theory and analysis to empirically-based documentation of social realities in which Palestinian and other Arab lives are wasted. In the case of Palestinians, the reality on the ground remains the Israeli lobby’s Achilles heel, for which the silencing campaigns are required.

Should the administration persist in its announced decisions, it is unconscionable that CSU-Fresno should keep the named Chair and carry out a new search next year—all in the name of Edward Said. That the persons who vetoed the outcome over the objections of the Search Committee, MES Director, and the MES faculty, should benefit from having a post in Edward Said’s name associated with the university while gutting his intellectual legacy, should not be allowed to happen.

What has transpired at both CSU Fresno and Dartmouth call into question freedom of speech and freedom from interference by a foreign government. Suppressing ideas and voices simply because they displease a foreign government and its supporters dumbs us all down. It distracts from underlying issues at play about who has the power to speak. If your voice is silenced, who was able to shut it down, why did they get to shut it down, and by what mechanisms? And, then, how does the whole thing usually go silent?

The implications of the cancelled Edward Said Professorship search at California State University Fresno thus affect all of us. While we are the ‘concern’ today, it could easily be you tomorrow.

Next, here is the letter of resignation, dated May 21, from Vida Samiian, director of the Middle East Studies Program.

Vida Samiian, former director of Middle East Studies program at Cal State Fresno

Dear Dean Jimenez-Sandoval:

I am writing to let you know that I will not be returning to complete the remainder of my FERP term at California State University, Fresno. I have decided to resign in objection to the unethical and discriminatory cancellation of the Edward Said Professorship search by AVP Rudy Sanchez after all aspects of the search had been completed by the search committee. Although he cited a procedural justification for the cancellation, the evidence indicates that this was merely a pretext, and in fact the search was cancelled based on animus towards the national origin, racial and ethnic background of the four finalists. By closing the search, the Administration carried out the vicious and discriminatory attacks launched by Israel advocacy groups against the search committee and the four finalists who were of Middle Eastern and Palestinian ethnicity.

On April 26th, the interdisciplinary search for the Edward Said Professorship was abruptly canceled by Rudy Sanchez, AVP for Academic Affairs, stating that several “concerns” about the search were brought to his attention, including an alleged violation of APM 301 regarding the election of the search committee. It was not clear what other “concerns” had been brought forth and who had brought forth these “concerns.” The cancellation came at the end of the process, after the search committee had ranked the finalists and forwarded the list with nominations to the Dean, and after the Anthropology Department had unanimously voted to house the prospective hire, at the request of the Dean of Arts and Humanities. The search was closed despite your efforts and over the objections of the search committee.

Letters and emails of protest to this unjustified cancellation by search committee members and myself, as director of the Middle East Studies program, remained unanswered (see attachments). It was puzzling why suddenly strict compliance with APM 301 could result in closure of the search, considering that the search was in process for over a year, and the search committee had begun its work in September 2016, with the full knowledge and approval of the department chair, the dean, and the AVP for Academic Affairs. Compliance with APM 301 had never before been raised. If it had been raised, there would have been opportunities to adjust to comply.

To understand what really happened, we have to look at the facts. There was no expression of “concern” about the search and APM 301 until the names of the four finalists for campus interviews were announced and colleagues were invited to attend their lectures. These finalists were, appropriately, Middle Eastern Americans and their research focused on the region, in particular Palestine. As I have explained in an earlier letter, it was then that a documented campaign of harassment and intimidation of search committee members began by Israel advocacy groups to influence and derail the outcome of the search and, if possible, prevent it from moving forward.

The first inappropriate comment was made to a search committee member by a colleague who questioned the selection of the finalists. When invited to attend the lectures to find out more about the finalists, he responded “Why should I come to listen to a talk about Palestine and Lebanon?” The same individual questioned the naming of the position after Edward Said and criticized the four candidates’ areas of scholarship. The next expression was a note to one of the search committee members stating: “I wonder if you know how concerned the Jewish community is on campus and outside about the finalists for the Middle East search. Could you share with me the deliberations of the search committee.” Another member of the search committee was pressured and harassed repeatedly by a retired faculty member who criticized the ideological orientation of some of the finalists and apparently referenced the Canary Mission Website, which is a McCarthyite blacklisting website that profiles students and faculty who have been vocal supporters of Palestinian rights, with the express intention of ruining their careers. I am sure the administration, especially the Deans and the Provost, received additional communications against the candidates and the search.

Such comments and interferences are attacks on academic freedom, integrity of the search process, and the principles of non-discriminatory practice that we uphold in the academy. These were reported to the administration, but instead of addressing the discriminatory nature of these attacks, the administration carried out the request of the attackers and decided to close the search. By doing so the administration chose to implement the discriminatory demands of the Israel advocacy groups and individuals.

As Professor Joe Parks, the Equal Employment Opportunity representative on the Search Committee, wrote in response to the final cancellation of the search on May 11, 2017:

“As a young man during the 1960s, I am an old Civil Rights fighter and recognize racism when I see it in front of me. I believe the administration ‘caved’ to racism because the four finalists were of Middle Eastern ethnicity…. I believe the administration violated the integrity of the academic search and the Academic Freedom of Higher Education in the United States of America. It is shameful that we are still fighting racism, bigotry and hatred during this new 21st century.”

For those of us who were instrumental in the development of the interdisciplinary Middle East Studies program such attacks are not new. The history of these types of discriminatory harassment and intimidation goes back over fifteen years to the post 9/11 era, when some of us from the Middle East, or with expertise about the Middle East, planned courses, lectures and outreach programs to educate the campus and the broader community about the Middle East. However, the big taboo has always been and remains Israel. Any critical discussion of Israeli policies or Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine would be met with a campaign of harassment and intimidation, even letters of protest to the Chancellor of CSU, coming all the way from Israel. Later on when we developed the MES program through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and held major conferences on the Middle East, special interest groups such as Campus Watch and “” continued to harass faculty and expert scholars. So, it is not surprising that this is continuing today, when we are at the point of hiring a faculty member for a named Edward Said Professorship in Middle East Studies.

What has changed is that the previous administration stood by the principles and legal obligations of Academic Freedom, the First Amendment rights, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to protect faculty and students. With speakers like Professors Ilan Pappe, Hagit Borer, and William Ayers, when special interest groups rallied to prevent their talks, the Administration stood up to protect Academic Freedom. I am sad to see that today, with this unjustified closure of the search of the Edward Said Professorship, the current administration is enabling those who lead these discriminatory campaigns of obstruction, intimidation, and harassment.

Again, it is ironic, but not surprising, that a position named after the late Edward Said, whose academic legacy is rooted in anti-colonial intellectual pursuit, is attacked and derailed by individuals and forces that defend the last settler-colonial regime of our times. What is surprising is that AVP Rudy Sanchez facilitated the implementation of this discriminatory effort.

After spending many years and many fights for what is right at this institution, I have no choice but to leave, with great sorrow, in protest to this unethical and discriminatory closure of the search, violation of Title VI, and the shameful injustice inflicted on our superb finalists because of their Middle Eastern and Palestinian ethnicity.

Vida Samiian, Professor of Linguistics

Director of Middle East Studies Program

Dean Emerita, College of Arts and Humanities

California State University, Fresno

Thanks to Ofer Neiman.

We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$78.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network