The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) condemns the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) for its disgraceful decision to give its 2020 Georgina M. Smith Award to San Francisco State University (SFSU) Professor Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, who has a long record of viciously attacking Israel and Jews.
The AAUP gave this award to Abdulhadi purportedly and absurdly because she “exemplifies courage, persistence, political foresight, and concern for human rights.” In fact, Abdulhadi has shown no concern for the rights of Jewish and pro-Israel students. She has made it clear that “Zionists” (code for Jews) are not even welcome on her campus.
In February 2018, then-SFSU President Leslie Wong issued an apology message to the SFSU community “for past comments and actions that were deeply hurtful” to the Jewish community. Wong “affirmed my support for our Jewish students” and stated, “Let me be clear: Zionists are welcome on our campus.”
Abdulhadi did not applaud President Wong’s message of support for the Jewish community, as one would reasonably expect from a professor supposedly committed to “concern for human rights,” as the AAUP claims. Instead, Abdulhadi went on the attack, equating Wong’s statement “to a declaration of war.” On the official Facebook page of an SFSU program, Abdulhadi posted, “I consider the statement . . . from President Wong, welcoming Zionists to campus, equating Jewishness with Zionism, and giving Hillel ownership of campus Jewishness, to be a declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians and all those who are committed to an indivisible sense of justice on and off campus.”
Abdulhadi also wrote that she was “ashamed” to be affiliated with SFSU. She demanded that President Wong withdraw his statement.
The AAUP’s decision to recognize Abdulhadi is even more outrageous and appalling considering that her actions violate the AAUP’s own mission and values. The AAUP opposes academic boycotts as a violation of its “long-standing commitment to the free exchange of ideas.” Indeed, the AAUP has made it clear that “we cannot endorse the use of political or religious views as a test of eligibility for participation in the academic community.” Yet Abdulhadi is a founding member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott, which calls for a boycott of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions.
The AAUP also claims that it is committed to “higher education’s contribution to the common good.” Yet in 2017 and again in 2018, Abdulhadi was the keynote speaker at the national conference of the group that calls itself “Students for Justice in Palestine” – a group that breeds hatred, hostility and divisiveness on campus. A detailed 2017 study of SJP documented that SJP is “an extremist organization that maintains affiliations with Arab and Islamic terror groups, is overtly anti-Semitic, incites hatred and violence against Jewish students, and rejects the existence of the state of Israel in any borders.” A 2016 Brandeis University study on campus anti-Semitism found that “[o]ne of the strongest predictors of perceiving a hostile climate toward Israel and Jews is the presence of an active SJP group on campus.”
In condemning the AAUP’s decision to recognize Abdulhadi, ZOA National President Morton A. Klein and Director of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, Susan Tuchman,Esq. said, “It’s shameful that the AAUP would give an award to Abdulhadi of all people. This is someone who doesn’t even try to mask her hostility toward Jews and Israel.
“Shame on AAUP. This organization touts its commitment to academic freedom, to professional values and standards, and to seeking the common good in higher educations. Abdulhadi doesn’t share any of those goals.
“The ZOA calls on AAUP members to stop promoting hate and let the organization’s leaders know that they strongly oppose the award to Abdulhadi and demand that the AAUP rescind it immediately. If the AAUP does not rescind it, then we urge faculty and other AAUP members to withdraw from the organization until it starts making decisions that are actually consistent with its mission and values.”