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Victims Slam San Francisco State University For Hosting A Palestinian Terrorist

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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.'”

“I’ve heard of peaceful protests, but a peaceful hijacking sounds ridiculous to me.”

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.

The school, which is federally funded and received over $28 million from the CARES Act, as reported by StopAntisemitism.org, is backing Khaled’s speech as well.

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.”

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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”

Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.

RELATED: ‘Let’s play strip poker’: Fmr. Cuomo aide accuses NY governor of sexual harassment

Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.

At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.

RELATED: De Blasio ‘sickened’ by Cuomo sexual harassment claims

“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”

“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”

This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”

RELATED: Cuomo responds to sexual harassment claims, saying he ‘may have been insensitive’

During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.

“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”

“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”

Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.

RELATED: ‘Eat the whole sausage: Gov. Cuomo in hot water for resurfaced video

Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.

“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”

Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.

“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”

He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.

Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”

“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.

MORE ON CUOMO: NY dem says state legislature is ‘inching toward’ Cuomo impeachment probe

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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