By Paul Miller | For Watchdog.org
Responding to charges a professor engaged in Mideast politics on the taxpayer dime, San Francisco State University officials offered bland reassurances that the school investigates “any allegations that a member of the University community misused state funds.”
FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES: Palestinian guerrilla Leila Khaled was praised by San Francisco State University professor Rabab Abdulhadi, who received more than $7,000 from SFSU to fly to Jordan, the West Bank and Israel.
According to a California Public Records Act inquiry requested by the nonprofit group AMCHA Initiative, “Professor Rabab Abdulhadi received more than $7,000 from SFSU to fly to Jordan, the West Bank and Israel to meet with members of known terrorist organizations.”
Abdulhadi did not respond to email and telephone requests for comments. In a recording, she said the trip was aimed at “collaborating with academic institutions, especially with academic institutions in Palestine.”
Abdulhadi was scheduled to present a paper at a Jan. 11 – 14 Conference of the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University in Lebanon. After receiving university approval to attend at the school’s expense, Abdulhadi sent an email to the SFSU Risk Management Office advising that her “name was dropped from the Beirut conference.”
Despite that change, she made the Mideast trip, along with SFSU ethnic studies professor Joanne Barker and Jaime Veve, who is Abdulhadi’s husband.
Critics allege the trip was always political rather than academic. They point to a March 6 event, during which Abdulhadi called the trip a “political solidarity tour.” Captured on an audio recording, she clearly expresses her admiration for Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled, calling her “an icon in the liberation movement and she is an icon for women’s liberation.”
An AMCHA statement describes Khaled as ”a convicted hijacker and the most infamous member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization responsible for a hundred and fifty-nine terrorist acts such as bombings, armed assault and assassinations, resulting in numerous injuries and deaths including those of more than twenty U.S. citizens.”
Abdulhadi, her husband and Barker met with other radical political figures during the trip. The same release claims Abdulhadi also met with Sheikh Raed Salah, “leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, who was convicted of funding the terrorist organization Hamas and served a two-year prison sentence from 2003 to 2005.”
A letter sent by AMCHA to California State University Chancellor Timothy White, SFSU President Leslie Wong, among other university administrators, and signed by seven additional organizations including the Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach, StandWithUs and Brandeis Center for Human Rights, claims “documents that we recently received in response to a California Public Records Act request submitted to SFSU on April 10, requesting any and all records regarding the University’s funding of a ‘Labor Delegation to Palestine 2014′ led by SFSU Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, suggest an egregious misuse of University and taxpayer funds.”
“We are concerned that Professor Abdulhadi misled the university and ultimately the taxpayers by not revealing that she was intending to meet with individuals affiliated with terrorist organizations,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Lecturer, University of California at Santa Cruz and AMCHA co-founder. “When she filed request forms, signed contracts and received insurance for the trip, it was for a conference at the highly secure American University in Lebanon. We know now that is not where she went and we are glad to learn that there will be an investigation.”
AMCHA alleges “that the meetings were set before Abdulhadi requested university approval.”
A March 7, 2013, posting by SFSU student Mohammad G. Hammad on his Tumblr account revealed that Abdulhadi had invited him to join her delegation. Hammad expressed his excitement, posting, “I WILL GET TO MEET LEILA KHALED.”
In a Jan. 30, posting, Barker wrote, “They (delegation of six academics and one labor rights activist based in the U.S. and Canada) established working relationships and furthered their solidarities with Palestinian scholars, artists, and activists engaged in BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and other efforts against the occupation.”