Jewish Community Letter in Support of Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi

Members of Jewish communities across the US and around the world support Professor Rabab Abdulhadi and call on SF State President Wong to stand firmly behind her against Tammi Rossman-Benjamin's vicious attacks.


July 1, 2014


Dear President Wong,

We, the undersigned members of Jewish communities, are writing to express our outrage at Tammi Rossman-Benjamin’s vicious and baseless attacks on Professor Rabab Abdulhadi and the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED).

Rossman-Benjamin, who has a history of attacking faculty and students who are critical of Israel, claims that actions by Abdulhadi, such as leading a delegation to Palestine that highlighted the plain reality of Israeli occupation and settler-colonialism, have been “compromising the campus climate for Jewish and Israeli students at SFSU.”

Abdulhadi supports and teaches about movements for justice and histories of oppressed peoples, including work that challenges anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism as well as the occupation of Palestine. As such, Abdulhadi’s teaching, scholarship and public advocacy directly contribute to combatting racism and prejudice against all peoples, including Jews. Suggesting that such work creates an unsafe atmosphere for Jewish students is simply propaganda. As a matter of fact, this notion has been expressly rejected by the U.S. Department of Education at three University of California campuses in the past year, including in response to a complaint filed by AMCHA, Rossman-Benjamin’s organization. The DOE concluded: “In the university environment, exposure to such robust and discordant expressions, even when personally offensive and hurtful, is a circumstance that a reasonable student in higher education may experience. In this context, the events that the complainants described do not constitute actionable harassment.”

Not only are these accusations of misconduct completely unfounded, but these attacks are a reflection of politically motivated, false charges of antisemitism targeting Palestinian and Arab faculty and students around the country. On campuses from UC Berkeley to Rutgers, organizations such as the AMCHA Initiative, the Zionist Organization of America, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center have attempted to manipulate the Title VI Civil Rights Act to serve their own political ends. By characterizing protected political speech as antisemitism they cheapen and weaken crucial civil rights protections. This is but one example of the outrageous law-fare being used to target Palestinian students and professors and their supporters.

Furthermore, these attacks contribute to a domestic climate that is extremely hostile to Arabs and Muslims. From acts of vigilante violence to racist ads displayed on buses in San Francisco, New York, and DC to government use of immigration law to target well-respected Chicago community activist Rasmea Odeh, Arabs and Muslims face a climate of intimidation and repression that extends far beyond campuses.

As Jewish people well-versed in the history of antisemitism that is backed with state power, we reject Ms. Benjamin’s manipulation of our history. As people committed to ending racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism and all other forms of oppression, we reject AMCHA’s attempt to undermine the true meaning of racism. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA and similar organizations do not speak for Jews when they irresponsibly slander Palestinian students and faculty. In fact, their political intervention to support Israel and Zionism feeds into anti-Jewish racism by claiming that all Jews share similar views and sentiments regarding Israel.

The ignorance and anti-Arab anti-Muslim racism that Ms. Rossman-Benjamin fuels, leverages and supports is all the more reason that Professor Abdulhadi’s scholarly pursuits, including research on diverse Palestinian political perspectives, offers a valuable contribution to San Francisco State University and indeed to the wider public.

We, the undersigned, urge you to do everything in your power to publicly defend Professor Abdulhadi against these false allegations and publicly acknowledge the contributions her work and the work of AMED make to SFSU.


Original signers:

Alan Wald, Faculty Emeritus, University of Michigan*

Alex Lubin, University of New Mexico*

Alisa Solomon, Journalism, Columbia University*

Alyosha Goldstein, Associate Professor of American Studies, University of New Mexico*

Amy Kaplan, Edward W. Kane Professor of English, Department Chair, Univ of Pennsylvania*

Barbara Lubin, Middle East Children’s Alliance

Bruce Robbins, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University*

Caren Kaplan, Professor of American Studies, UC Davis*

Carol Krauthamer Smith, Los Angeles Civil Rights Attorney

City University of New York*

Constance R. Sutton Professor of Anthropology New York University*

David Finkel, Managing Editor Against the Current, Detroit

David Klein, Professor of Mathematics, California State University, Northridge*

David Letwin, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return

David L. Mandel, attorney and member, Jewish Voice for Peace, Sacramento

Deborah Cohler, Associate Professor and Chair of Women and Gender Studies, SFSU*

Deeg Gold, Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism

Dennis Kortheuer, Ph. D., Department of History, California State University, Long Beach*

Ella Shohat, , Professor, Art and Public Policy, New York University*

Eric Smoodin, Professor of American Studies, UC Davis*

Estee Chandler, Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles, Organizer*

Gabi Kirk, Jewish Voice for Peace

Gabriel Ash, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

Gabriel Piterberg, Professor of History & Director of the Gustav von Grunebaum Center for Near East Studies, UCLA

Haim Bresheeth, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, School of Oriental and African Studies* and Director of Camera Obscura Films

Hagit Borer, Professor & Chair, Dept of Linguistics, SLLF, Queen Mary, University of London*

Hester Eisenstein, Professor of Sociology, Queens College and the Graduate Center, The City University of New York*

Hilton Obenzinger, Ph.D., American Studies, Associate Director, Stanford Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, Stanford University

Howard Winant, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara*

Ilan Pappe, Writer and Professor of History, Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies, University of Exeter*

Joel Beinin, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Professor of Middle East History Department of History, Stanford University*

Joshua Gamson, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, University of San Francisco*

Judith Butler, Maxie Elliot professor, university of California at Berkeley *

Karin Pally, MPH, Santa Monica, CA

Kate Raphael, Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism

Kathryn K. Johnson, The Praxis Project, San Francisco State University*

Kathy Wazana, Documentary Filmmaker, They Were Promised the Sea, Founder, the Just Peace Seder and Community Mimouna

Keith P. Feldman, Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley*

Kenneth Ring, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Connecticut*

Kinneret Israel, City College of San Francisco* Instructor

Kobi Snitz Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot Israel*

Laura Wexler, Professor of American Studies and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Yale University*

Leslie Cagan, United for Peace and Justice*

Linda Basch, President Emerita, National Council for Research on Women Fellow, Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative*

Linda Gordon, University Professor of the Humanities, New York University*

Lisa Rofel, Professor Department of Anthropology, University of California Santa Cruz*

Marcy Newman, Writer and Activist, Bangalore, India

Marilyn B. Young, Dept of History, NYU*

Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark, Baruch College-CUNY, emerita*

Marty Rosenbluth, Esq. Attorney

Max Ajl, Jadaliyya*, Editor

Max Blumenthal, journalist

Max Geller, Students for Justice in Palestine, Northeastern University

Meir Gal, The School of Visual Arts, Department of Visual & Critical Studies*

Merle Ratner, Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign*

Michael Letwin, Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325

Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights

Naomi Allen, Jewish Voice for Peace, NY Chapter

Neve Gordon, Professor, Israeli political scientist and author of Israel's Occupation

Orly Lubin, Tel Aviv University*

Penny Rosenwasser, Ph.D., author of Hope into Practice, Jewish women choosing justice despite our fears

Priscilla Wald, Ph.D., Duke University*

Ramon Grosfoguel, Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC-Berkeley*

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Director, Jewish Voice for Peace

Richard Falk, Milbank Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University*

Ronit Lentin, Associate Professor, Sociology, Trinity College, Dublin. Ireland*

Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Hunter College & the Graduate Center,

Sam Weinstein, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network – Labor and Utility Workers Union of America (former Assistant to the National President)*

Sara Kershnar, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, International Organizer

Sara Roy, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University*

Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, City University of New York, College of Staten Island*

Selma James, Global Women’s Strike and International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network - UK

Sherna Berger Gluck, Emerita Faculty, California State University, Long Beach*

Sherry Gorelick, Professor Emerita, Rutgers University*

Simona Sharoni, Professor, Gender & Women's Studies, SUNY Plattsburgh*

Stevan Kirschbaum, Chair, Grievance Committee, USW 8751, Boston School Bus Union*

Steve Goldfield, Ph.D., writer and activist*

Steve Goldfield, PhD, writer and activist, San Francisco, CA

Susan Greene, PhD, Art Force

Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace

Terri Ginsberg, PhD, International Council for Middle East Studies, USA*

Tikva Honig-Parnass, PhD, writer, Jerusalem, Israel

Toby Kramer, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, US Organizer

Tom Pessah, PhD candidate, UC Berkeley*

Walda Katz-Fishman, Scholar Activist

Yifat Susskind, MADRE, Executive Director

Zachary Lockman, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and of History, NYU*


* For identification purposes only

Plus an additional 350 signatories from across the United States, Israel, Europe, East Asia and South America





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