Victims Slam San Francisco State University For Hosting A Palestinian Terrorist
San Francisco State University invited a Palestinian terrorist, Leila Khaled, responsible for two plane hijackings to speak at an event later this month. The public university has defended its decision despite the mounting backlash, but a number of Khaled’s victims are condemning SFSU’s doubling down.
Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), took part in two plane hijackings. One in 1969, when her team of terrorists diverted TWA Flight 840 from Rome to Tel Aviv to Damascus, Syria. And the other, in 1970, when she attempted to hijack El Al flight 219 from Amsterdam to New York City in a series of simultaneous hijackings dubbed “Black September.”
PFLP is a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. The U.S. Department of State didn’t immediately respond to this reporter’s request for comment. The story will be updated if a statement is received.
Rodney Khazzam survived the El Al hijacking and described the horrifying event to Israellycool’s David Lange in an interview this week.
“I do have memories of a lot of chaos,” Khazzam, who was 4-years-old during the attack, told Lange. “I remember, you know, gunshots on the flight because one of the flight attendants was actually shot I believe by Leila Khaled’s partner. I remember another gunshot when the marshals finally were able to subdue Leila Khaled, and in the end, kill her partner on board the flight. I remember people screaming when Leila Khaled tossed a grenade as a last attempt to do something horrible to us when she realized she was being captured… Yeah, It was pretty frightening.”
Khazzam added that the flight’s pilot took swift action by nosediving the plane, which he said saved lives that day by throwing off the terrorists. Khaled also attempted to detonate a grenade but was unsuccessful.
Khazzam described the traumatic event, “We were all huddled on the floor, people screaming and I remember my father holding my sister and I and my mother right next to us, who happened to be pregnant at the time, and basically saying ‘I think this is the end for us, thank God we’re all together. Don’t be afraid, we’re all together.'”
Moshe Raab was also a victim of the PFLP’s “Black September” hijackings. He wrote in an op-ed for the Jewish Telegraph Agency this week of the attack.
“Imagine the horror and disgust that I, my family and other hijack victims experienced when we read that Leila Khaled, one of the hijackers directly involved in the 1970 attacks, had been invited by San Francisco State University to address a forum on Gender, Justice and Resistance,” Raab wrote.
He added, “Had Khaled ever apologized for her role in the hijackings or taken steps to show that she is committed to nonviolent efforts to achieve her desired end, I would not object to her speaking at San Francisco State. People who genuinely learn often make the best teachers. But even after 50 years, Khaled has never expressed remorse or disavowed her actions or those of her comrades.”
The upcoming event, “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice, & Resistance: A conversation with Leila Khaled,” will be hosted by the University’s university’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies program, which defends Khaled and even presents her as a victim “who has been maligned.”
The Department’s Director Rabab Abdulhadi didn’t immediately respond when asked by this reporter if Khaled was paid to speak. The story will be updated if that information is received.
“Khaled has been maligned and labeled as a terrorist to discredit the struggle for justice for all to which she belongs,” the event page states. “Khaled was also subjected to Orientalist, Islamophobic and colonialist depictions that fail to even contemplate that Arab, Muslim and Palestinian women can and do speak for themselves, think critically and lead movements. By contrast, generations of Palestinian (and non-Palestinian) intellectuals, militants and peace and justice activists see Khaled as a feminist icon and a role model to be emulated.“
In a statement to SaraACarter.com, StopAntisemitism.org’s Director Lior Rez said her organization is “horrified” by SFSU’s decision to allow “a convicted terrorist that hijacked TWO separate planes (one of which a flight attendant was shot) to address their students under the disguise of free speech.”
The University’s President, even after receiving letters from victim Rodney Khazzam and others, still defends Khaled’s appearance.
“Let me be clear: I condemn the glorification of terrorism and use of violence against unarmed civilians,” SFSU President Lynn Mahoney wrote in The Jewish News. “I strongly condemn antisemitism and other hateful ideologies that marginalize people based on their identities, origins or beliefs. At the same time, I represent a public university, which is committed to academic freedom and the ability of faculty to conduct their teaching and scholarship without censorship.”
“Embracing these core principles — freedom of expression, freedom from censorship and a university as an inclusive and welcoming environment — serves as the foundation of a strong higher education that develops critical thinking; they need not be mutually exclusive. Embracing hard-to-reconcile complexities and rejecting binary thinking are the hallmarks of a quality educational experience.”