San Francisco State University (SFSU) spent more than $7,000 to send two of its professors to the Middle East for a series of meetings with two convicted terrorists, according to funding documents obtained from a California Public Records Act.
SFSU professors Rabab Abdulhadi and Joanne Barker were awarded the money by the university for a trip to Jordan and the West Bank where they met with two notorious terrorists tied to Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), both of which are designated as terrorist groups by the U.S. State Department.
Abdulhadi, an ethnic studies professors, is already a controversial figure at SFSU, having organized anti-Israel events and served as the faculty adviser to an SFSU student who was booted from the school for posting a picture of himself holding a knife with a caption that read, "I want to stab an Israeli soldier."
The revelation that California taxpayers footed the bill for the trip has sparked accusation that Abdulhadi obtained the funding on false pretenses and led a delegation of Jewish group to demand that SFSU launch an investigation into what they dubbed an "egregious misuse of university and taxpayer funds."
During the January trip Abdulhadi and Barker met with terrorist Leila Khaled, a convicted hijacker and member of the PFLP, which has launched dozens of terrorist attacks and is responsible for the deaths of more than 20 U.S. citizens.
They also met with Sheikh Raed Salah, who has been convicted of funding Hamas and served prison time for inciting violence.
Jewish advocacy groups, including the AMCHA Initiative and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others, have expressed outrage over the meeting and demanded that SFSU promptly launch an investigation to examine if Abdulhadi improperly spent taxpayer funds provided by the school.
"Evidence demonstrates that Abdulhadi always intended to use the university-funded trip to build relationships with anti-Israel political activists to promote anti-Semitic academic, cultural, and economic boycotts of Israel and the meetings were set before Abdulhadi requested university approval," the Jewish groups wrote in a recent letter to SFSU administrators, all of whom are documented to have signed off on the trip.
"We believe that there was some fraud going on in order to get the money, approval, insurance, she essentially defrauded the state and the taxpayers of California," Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, the AMCHA Initiative’s co-founder, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Abdulhadi initially stated in funding proposals that the purpose of her trip was to attend an academic conference at the American University in Lebanon. However, Abdulhadi was dropped from the conference just weeks before she was scheduled to arrive.
"On at least four official university documents signed by several SFSU and CSU administrators, including SFSU President Wong and CSU [California State University] Chancellor White, Abdulhadi concealed the fact that the true purpose of her trip was political activism, 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," the Jewish groups stated in their letter.
The groups argue that there is clear evidence Abdulhadi "always intended to use the university-funded trip to build relationships with anti-Israel political activists to promote anti-Semitic academic, cultural and economic boycotts of Israel and the meetings were set before Abdulhadi requested university approval."
Abdulhadi has long been at the center of anti-Israel activities on SFSU’s campus.
The professor organized a March event in which she "glorified and condoned terrorism to SFSU students," according to AMCHA.
Boycotts against Israel also were celebrated at the event, which was reported to have left Jewish attendees in "tears," according to video and eyewitness accounts.
An earlier anti-Israel event organized by Abdulhadi last year urged students who attended to make signs that read, "My heroes have always killed colonizers."
Abdulhadi also sparked controversy earlier this year for serving as the academic adviser to student Mohammad Hammad, who was ejected from SFSU after groups such as AMCHA highlighted internet postings in which the student wished violence on Jews and threatened to kill Israeli soldiers.
Hammad, who was eventually investigated by the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force, was initially invited by Abdulhadi to attend the controversial trip and participate in the meetings with terrorists.
Hammad, in a Tumblr posting, stated that Abdulhadi had asked 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."
"I WILL GET TO MEET [terrorist] LEILA KHALED," Hammad wrote at the time.
SFSU officials, including President Wong and Chancellor White, did not respond to Free Beacon requests for comment about the controversy.
Abdulhadi also did not respond to an email request seeking comment.
SFSU spokeswoman Ellen Griffin told the Free Beacon on Friday that university professors are encouraged to communicate with whomever they like.
"Universities respect and encourage academic freedom and do not censor their scholars or condone censorship by others," Griffin said in a statement. "Faculty can and do communicate with others relevant to their research, communicating by various methods that can involve travel."
The potentially improper use of funds will be investigated, Griffin said.
"Any allegations that a member of the university community misused state funds will be investigated," she stated.
AMCHA’s Rossman-Benjamin said that Abdulhadi’s anti-Israel activism on campus is part of a larger effort by university professors across the nation to boycott Israel and take aim at Jews.
University "faculty [are] simply abusing academic freedom and using their classrooms and conference walls to promote their own animus to the Jewish state and Jews," she said.
Temple University recently came under similar fire for refusing to condemn a professor who questioned the deaths of 6 million Jewish in the Holocaust and engaged in anti-Semitic discourse on a secret listserv.
Other professors on the secret listserv operated by members of the Modern Language Association—which is currently engaged in efforts to boycott Israel—were similarly caught engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric, the Free Beacon reported.
Published under: Israel