Notable about this victory is that it was achieved largely by grassroots groups rather than well-funded mainstream Jewish organizations, including those whose mission it is to fight anti-Semitism.
By Atara Beck, United with Israel
Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled, a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – designated as a terrorist organization in the US, the European Union, Canada and Israel – was scheduled to appear at a San Francisco State University (SFSU) Zoom event on Wednesday evening, but due to grassroots activism, the program was cancelled at the 11th hour.
“Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice and Resistance: A Conversation with Leila Khaled” was the title of the address that the unrepentant terrorist, who participated in the hijacking of a Tel Aviv-bound commercial flight in 1969, was planning to give.
The event was organized by SFSU’s Department of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies, headed by virulently anti-Israel Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi.
In a letter last Thursday to the SFSU president, 86 organizations questioned the university’s “interpretation of academic freedom” as it pertains to hosting a convicted terrorist.
In a statement late Wednesday, the communications technology company issued the following statement:
“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.”
“Zoom’s correct (and lawful) decision was brought about by The Lawfare Project’s legal efforts and significant public pressure from #EndJewHatred, a new grassroots Jewish civil rights movement barely two weeks old,” the NGO said in a press release.
“Thanks to the efforts of The Lawfare Project and the #EndJewHatred movement, all communications platforms have been put on notice: block terrorism and cancel anti-Semitism, or you will be canceled. Today, we see the power of minority communities standing together,” the release said.
“We applaud Zoom’s decision to prohibit Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled from utilizing its services to promote the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s message of violence and antisemitic hate,” Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, said in a statement.
“Providing any material support to terror groups, including Internet conferencing services, is a blatant violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“It is disgraceful the SFSU would even offer this dangerous terrorist group the opportunity to promote its messages and threats of violence against Jews and Israelis,” Darshan-Leitner continued. “We warn other Internet platforms not to consider allowing designated terrorist groups that have targeted Israelis and Americans to utilize their services. These companies are facing potential civil and criminal liability.”
Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen tweeted, “Glad to see @Zoom_us preventing PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled from abusing its platform to spread her bigotry and calls for Jewish State’s destruction at a @SFSU event today. Tech companies need to uphold policies & protect the safety of all of its [sic] users against such hate-speech.”
Glad to see @Zoom_us preventing PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled from abusing its platform to spread her bigotry and calls for Jewish State’s destruction at a @SFSU event today. Tech companies need to uphold policies & protect the safety of all of its users against such hate-speech.
— Orit Farkash Hacohen אורית פרקש הכהן (@FarkashOrit) September 23, 2020
What seems notable about this victory is that it was achieved by grassroots groups rather than large, mainstream Jewish organizations, including those whose mission it is to fight anti-Semitism. Indeed, Brooke Goldstein, founder and director of The Lawfare Project and a strong supporter of #EndJewHatred, said in a recent article in Newsweek:
“The Jewish community is not properly organized. We have storied, well-meaning and well-funded institutions led by an old guard utterly unfamiliar with the 21st-century tools and tactics required to effectuate positive change on a national level. They run hierarchical legacy organizations that lack the flexibility and drive to respond rapidly to changing events. There is no appetite to take risks and innovate in any meaningful way, lest they upset a few large donors or make things awkward for long-standing partners.
“The Jewish community has organized itself from the top down, focusing on building organizations, not training grassroots leaders in civil rights advocacy.”
In this particular case, however, Goldstein told United with Israel, “Grassroots mobilization is the opposite of top down, and that’s what works and what has to work going forward.”
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