A California University Celebrates a Terrorist for Her Violent Career

Sept. 24 2020

Yesterday, San Francisco State University’s Arab and Muslim studies program had planned an online “conversation” with Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who participated in two hijackings in 1969 and 1970. In the second, she carried a grenade which she apparently intended to use on the passengers. The day before the talk, the videoconferencing platform Zoom announced that it would not host the event, citing the possible violations of U.S. anti-terror sanctions involved. Facebook then made a similar decision, so the organizers streamed the event on YouTube, which ended the broadcast after 20 minutes—before Khaled had a chance to speak.

Despite this reassuring result, the disturbing truth remains that university faculty saw fit to invite a terrorist to a seminar, and that administrators dismissed objections. Jeff Jacoby comments:

[Khaled] has spent the years since [the hijacking] avidly promoting “armed struggle,” spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and encouraging BDS, the campaign to attack Israel through boycotts, disinvestment, and sanctions. . . . Hijacker, would-be killer, hater of Jews: this is the “feminist icon” and “huge inspiration” for whom San Francisco State [wished to provide a platform]. Its advertisement for the event features an illustration based on a famous photograph of Khaled as a twenty-one-year-old, smiling broadly and brandishing an AK-47.

As a matter of academic freedom and the First Amendment, the university has every right to glorify a terrorist. [But] Would [the school’s president, who defended the talk], like to see her university host a “conversation” with Dylann Roof, the white supremacist terrorist who gunned down nine black worshippers in a South Carolina church?

Khaled’s appearance at San Francisco State doesn’t illustrate a courageous commitment by the school to air the unpopular views of terrorists and haters. It illustrates the admiration to be found on the hard left for one specific kind of terrorist and hater: the kind who targets Jews and demonizes Israel. Khaled is being celebrated for her violent career, not reluctantly tolerated out of deference to First Amendment principles.

Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, Palestinian terror, PFLP

Israel’s Friendship with Iraqi Kurds, and Why Iran Opposes It

In May 2022, the Iraqi parliament passed a law “criminalizing normalization and establishment of relations with the Zionist entity,” banning even public discussion of ending the country’s 76-year state of war with Israel. The bill was a response to a conference, held a few months prior, addressing just that subject. Although the gathering attracted members of various religious and ethnic groups, it is no coincidence, writes Suzan Quitaz, that it took place in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan:

Himdad Mustafa, an independent researcher based in Erbil, to whom the law would be applied, noted: “When 300 people gathered in Erbil calling for peace and normalization with Israel, the Iraqi government immediately passed a law criminalizing ties with Israel and Israelis. The law is clearly aimed at Kurds.” . . . Qais al-Khazali, secretary-general of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (Coordination Framework), a powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militia, slammed the conference as “disgraceful.”

Himdad explains that the criminalization of Israeli-Kurdish ties is primarily driven by “Kurd-phobia,” and that Kurd-hatred and anti-Semitism go hand-in-hand.

One reason for that is the long history of cooperation Israel and the Kurds of Iraq; another is the conflict between the Kurdish local government and the Iran-backed militias who increasingly control the rest of the country. Quitaz elaborates:

Israel also maintains economic ties with Kurdistan, purchasing Kurdish oil despite objections from Iraq’s central government in Baghdad. A report in the Financial Times discusses investments by many Israeli companies in energy, development sectors, and communications projects in Iraqi Kurdistan, in addition to providing security training and purchasing oil. Moreover, in a poll conducted in 2009 in Iraqi Kurdistan, 71 percent of Kurds supported normalization with Israel. The results are unsurprising since, historically, Israel has had cordial ties with the Kurds in a generally hostile region where Jews and Kurds have fought against the odds with the same Arab enemy in their struggles for a homeland.

The Iranian regime, through its proxies in the Iraqi government, is the most significant source of Kurd-phobia in Iraq and the driving factor fueling tensions. In addition to their explicit threat to Israel, Iranian officials frequently threaten the Kurdish region, and repeatedly accuse the Kurds of working with Israel.

Read more at Jersualem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Iraq, Israel-Arab relations, Kurds