Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies Commentary on Free Speech and AMCHA Initiative’s attacks on students and faculty across California Campuses.


The AMCHA Initiative has over many years expressed its support for the policies of the state of Israel and their disagreement with those who do not support those policies. Indeed, I firmly support their right to express their views.
However, for a number of years, AMCHA has gone well beyond just expressing its views, and developed a reputation for misrepresentation of facts against individuals and institutions. Moreover, it appears to also try to provoke very powerful people to punish those with whom it disagrees. It has done that to individuals at San Francisco State University and campuses across California. Recently, AMCHA has made a number of sensationalized and false claims about students and faculty at our campus. Further it has promoted these claims to sympathetic media. Most perniciously, it has lobbied powerful civic and private figures, including the state Governor and dozens of elected statewide and local leaders, encouraging them to punish individuals and institutions based on misleading or false claims.
AMCHA has publicly singled out one of our faculty, Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, for uniquely malicious bullying. Therefore I am compelled to repudiate their claims publicly. Make no mistake, Professor Abdulhadi has been and remains a valued colleague, scholar and teacher. She is a locally, nationally and internationally recognized and respected scholar/activist, who is the recipient of awards for the quality of her work. The claims made by AMCHA against her were investigated, as are all claims no matter the source, and those claims have been found false. Historically, AMCHA’s awareness of fact has not discouraged its unrelenting and mean-spirited attacks.
Without dignifying AMCHA’s claims with recitation here, in brief, I admonish them for their continued ill intent and propaganda style tactics. Moreover, I recommend that AMCHA cease its bullying and encourage it to find a more productive, collegial and humane manner with which to express its political views without sensationalism, vitriol or malice.
I have no intentions to engage AMCHA directly because experience has taught that it does not respond to corrective feedback from others, therefore, rendering such direct feedback useless. However, I offer this feedback publicly for two reasons. First, others in the public should be aware of AMCHA's attacks. Second, because of the values that those of us have in Ethnic Studies towards the humanity of others, even those who do not appear to respect our humanity, I am still compelled to offer these observations in a message available to AMCHA should they wish to use this constructive and well-intentioned feedback. Sensationalized attacks based on incomplete or inaccurate information such as these (at times accompanied with requests for monetary donations) exploit the worst fears of many, causing unfair and unnecessary distress for both AMCHA’s intended targets as well as its stated allies.  Coupling misinformation instigation or direct attack academic organizations or individuals degrades the campus climate for all.
I recommit the College as a safe haven for free and respectful expression for all of our students, staff and faculty, including when such discourse is contested and possibly disquieting. The College will continue to stand with those who are attacked simply for expressing their views, and stand in opposition to those who would perpetrate such attacks.
I may not always be able to provide individual attention to the numerous emails that I receive from automated petitions or group mailings; but I will make the findings of my office’s deliberations appropriately available once full investigations are complete. Finally I provide URL references to a small sample of other similar statements regarding the inappropriate behavior of AMCHA in regards to our students, faculty, institutions and community members across California for the reader’s consideration.
Statement by Professor Rabab Abdulhadi
Results of review of travel allegations
Related commentary on AMCHA’s claims or actions


Back to: Dean, College of Ethnic Studies Statement on Free Speech: Rights and responsibilities June 25, 2014