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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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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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