A California Public Records Act inquiry revealed that multiple professors from San Francisco State University met with terrorists on a trip funded by the university. Professors Rabab Abdulhadi and Joanne Barker, along with Abdulhadi's husband, met with terrorists Leila Khaled and Sheikh Raed Salah during the "Labor Delegation to Palestine 2014" which began on January 5th, 2014 and concluded on February 14th, 2014.
Eight organizations- the AMCHA Initiative, Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach, StandWithUs, and Zionist Organization of America- sent a letter to CSU Chancellor Timothy White, SFSU President Leslie Wong, CSU Vice Chancellor and Chief Audit Officer Larry Mendel and CSU Attorney Carrie Hemphill Reith concerning the matter.
Leila Khaled is "a convicted hijacker and the most famous member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization responsible for 159 terrorist acts such as bombings, armed assault and assassinations, resulting in numerous injuries and deaths including those of more than 20 US citizens," the groups noted.
Sheikh Raed Salah has been convicted of funding the terrorist organization Hamas and sat in prison from 2003 - 2005. In the letter to school administration the organizations also highlighted that, "In 2008, Salah was charged with incitement to violence and racism. In 2010, Salah was also arrested for his participation on the Mavi Marmara, part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Salah was recently incarcerated again on charges of incitement to violence."
The letter to the university administration outlined Abdulhadi's dishonest approach to obtaining funding:
According to these documents, Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi received more than $7,000 from the University, including an advance of $2,000, to cover the cost of her trip. However, we believe that in order to procure the administrative approval necessary for securing such University funding, the nature and purpose of Abdulhadi’s trip were misrepresented on at least 4 official University documents that were reviewed and approved by the SFSU Risk Management Office and Abdulhadi’s Dean, Kenneth Monteiro. And since Prof. Abdulhadi was requesting approval for travel to “high risk” countries, her official documents were reviewed and approved by both the President’s and Chancellor’s offices (Request for Authorization to Travel/Travel Advance, Request for Travel Approval to High-Risk Country, Request for Foreign Travel Insurance Program (FTIP) coverage, and Request for Approval – International Travel).
Each of these 4 documents emphasizes that the purpose of Abdulhadi’s trip was related to University business: to present a paper at the 4th conference of the Center for American Studies and Research to be held at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, as well as to conduct “research” and to meet with “potential collaborators towards [establishing a] memorandum of understanding with San Francisco State University” in Jordan and the West Bank.
However, a few weeks before her trip, though after she had already received confirmation of her approval for international travel as well as confirmation of her foreign travel insurance coverage, and presumably after she had received a $2,000 advance from the University towards her trip, Abdulhadi sent a short email to the SFSU Risk Management Office informing them that she would be neither presenting a paper nor attending the conference in Lebanon. Oddly, Abdulhadi gave the following off-hand explanation for the significant change in her itinerary and focus: “Unfortunately my name was dropped from the Beirut conference.”
"On at least 4 official University documents signed by several SFSU and CSU administrators, including SFSU President Wong and CSU Chancellor White or someone from his office, Abdulhadi concealed the fact that the true purpose of her trip was political activism to promote efforts to harm the Jewish state, as well as the fact that she had planned to meet with individuals affiliated with organizations on the U.S. State Department's list of Designated Terrorist Organizations," according to the emailed letter.
"Presumably by concealing these crucial facts, Abdulhadi was able to receive from the SFSU Office of Human Resources, Safety & Risk Management approval to travel to "high risk" countries and insurance coverage paid for by the University (and California taxpayers), and she was able to receive from the University (and California taxpayers) more than $7,000 dollars for her transportation, lodging and food during the 21 days of her "political solidarity tour."
The groups highlight that the goal of the trip was to help professors Abdulhadi and Barker further their anti-Semitic and anti-American agenda:
- In an event on March 6, 2014, Abdulhadi called the trip a “political solidarity tour” and went on to say: “This was not solidarity light, this was not pre-solidarity 101.”
- Professor Barker, in her blog, wrote that the delegation “established working relationships and furthered their solidarities with Palestinian scholars, artists and activists engaged in BDS and other efforts against occupation.”
- In a March 2013 entry on his Tumblr account, Mohammad Hammad then a SFSU student, described that Abdulhadi had invited him to “join her and a delegation that she is taking to Palestine on a 10-Day trip…during which we will be visiting with prominent figures associated with the Palestinian Resistance Movement.” He writes, “I WILL GET TO MEET LEILA KHALED.”
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA co-founder and a UC professor, noted “Not only does Hammad’s posting demonstrate that meetings with Khaled and other known terrorists were planned months before Abdulhadi submitted official documents to the University omitting all mention of these meetings, it also highlights the deeply troubling behavior of Abdulhadi, who involved a vulnerable student in her plans to meet with members of known terrorist organizations.”
"We believe that there has been an egregious abuse of university and taxpayer funds as well as potential violations of California state law prohibiting the use of state resources for personal or political purposes," the groups wrote before requesting an investigation.
Abdulhadi also served as an academic advisor to student Mohammad Hammad, who came under fire last year for taking a photograph with a knife and writing, “I seriously can not get over how much I love this blade...It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier…”