By: Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
7 Groups Demand Cal State Governing Board Investigate
Los Angeles, CA, July 22, 2014 – Citing broad academic and community outrage, seven groups, today, urged the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees, the group with ultimate authority over educational and fiscal matters at SFSU and all CSU schools, to launch its own investigation into San Francisco State University (SFSU) Professor Rabab Abdulhadi’s recent use of $7,000 from SFSU to fly to Jordan, the West Bank and Israel to meet with known terrorists. AMCHA Initiative co-founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin will deliver the letter and remarks at today’s bi-monthly Board of Trustees meeting.
“On June 24, President Wong defended Abdulhadi’s use of public funds for her personal advocacy mission as ‘research’ and stated that his investigation concluded it complied with ‘established rules without fault or violation’,” wrote AMCHA Initiative, Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs and Zionist Organization of America. “We are extremely troubled by President Wong’s statement, as are many others throughout the state and across the county.”
Hundreds of California taxpayers have written to State Controller John Chiang to express their outrage and call for an investigation into the misuse of state funds. The following are excerpts from some of the letters:
“Please help put a stop to this outrageous abuse of power and resources by any faculty member or administrator.”
“I am appalled to read about state funds supporting the travels of SFSU professors for a purely political agenda. You have a fiduciary responsibility to better oversee public funds.”
“I am opposed to any professors using California State funds to go on political tours. It is essential that politics and research be separated very carefully…”
“This must be audited and the money reimbursed to the state by Rabab Abhulhadi.”
“[T]here is no legitimate personal political advocacy that taxpayers should fund, particularly when it involves taxpayer funds used for non-educational purposes, e.g. spent primarily for political advocacy…”
“I am writing to you today to express my outrage over SFSU President Wong’s decision to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to meet with terrorists. As a California taxpayer and resident, I am calling on you to audit the university and put an end to President Wong’s funding of terrorist trips.”
“I am…disturbed that funds designated for educational and research purposes are going for avowedly political purposes that encourage violence and intimidation here on US campuses as well as foster acts of terror overseas.”
CA faculty are also outraged that Wong condoned the use of university funds for political advocacy. Yesterday, dozens of faculty from universities throughout California sent a letter to the State Controller indicating that they are appalled that Abdulhadi has been allowed to use state funds “to advance her own political agenda…to promote an academic boycott of Israel,” and they are “deeply disturbed that SFSU President Wong has condoned Prof. Abdulhadi’s use of state funds as legitimate research.” In addition, 12 faculty members from UC San Diego sent a letter to the CA State Controller stating: “President Wong’s justification of this abuse of California taxpayers’ money as legitimate “research” is outrageous and so broadens the term “research” as to make it meaningless.” Individual faculty also wrote to Chiang stating:
“At my own university [Yale University], if I were to do this I would have to repay the university, at a minimum. Disciplinary action might also be undertaken for such misuse of university funds.”
“As a professor, I always attended and reported to colleagues about any state and even self funded conference in which I participated. I cannot imagine my and my colleagues not keeping our fiscal and intellectual commitments to our employing university!”
SFSU Professor Rabab Abdulhadi’s trip to the Middle East came under scrutiny when a California Public Records Act (PRA) Inquiry in May, requested by AMCHA Initiative, revealed Abdulhadi received more than $7,000 from SFSU to meet with the following members of known terrorist organizations:
- Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist Leila Khaled: Khaled is a convicted hijacker and the most famous member of the PFLP, a terrorist organization responsible for 159 terrorist acts such as bombings, armed assault and assassinations.
- Islamist leader Sheik Raed Salah: Salah was recently incarcerated for aiding and abetting Hamas.
Abdulhadi, in her own words, acknowledged her trip as purely political. At a SFSU public event, she called her trip a “political solidarity tour” whose primary purpose was to promote “resolute actions in support of the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.” Abdulhadi was the faculty advisor to the SFSU knife-wielding student investigated by the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force and was caught on tape glorifying terrorism to students.
“We are turning to you, as members of the CSU Board of Trustees with ultimate fiduciary responsibility for the University, with a question that many concerned citizens in our state and across the country are asking: Is a self-described “political solidarity trip” to promote the academic boycott of Israel, which itself has been declared as contrary to the values of the university by Chancellor White and hundreds of other University leaders, consistent with the educational mission of the California State University and a legitimate use of taxpayer funds?,” wrote the groups.
“Across California, professors are trying to game the system and politicize the campus,” stated Rossman-Benjamin. “As California faculty, we are extremely concerned. Please put a stop, once and for all, to this egregious abuse of power and resources and uphold our scholarly values.”
A copy of the full letter can be seen here.
AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating about, and combating anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education in America. AMCHA Initiative’s efforts are bolstered by a network of more than 5,000 members and supporters of the Jewish community — including university alumni, parents and grandparents, rabbis, religious school principals and synagogue members — who have joined together to speak in one voice to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish students on college and university campuses across the country.