Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is an endorser of the following call, initiated by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel:
We Will Not Be Silenced: Against the Criminalization and Censorship Of Campus Political Speech
As you may know, on September 23rd, corporate tech giants Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube acted in lockstep with San Francisco State University (SFSU) to shut down an open classroom webinar entitled “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice, & Resistance: A Conversation with Leila Khaled,” co-sponsored by the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program and the Department of Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University.
After intense, coordinated outside pressure from Zionist and right-wing factions, both the university and Zoom refused to allow the webinar to be aired. When organizers changed virtual venues and began live-streaming on YouTube, the same Zionists and right-wing agitators mobbed the comments section and used the reporting function to flag the video to YouTube, which shut it down twenty minutes into this open classroom event because it “violated” the company’s “Terms of Service.” At the same time, all previous references and invitations to the webinar were removed from hundreds of people’s Facebook pages and Instagram accounts.
Before, during, and since this massive, coordinated, electronic de-platforming by these tech giants, SFSU has refused to support the webinar’s organizers, Profs. Rabab Abdulhadi (AMED) and Tomomi Kinukawa (WGS), defend their academic freedom, or provide them with an alternative platform.
This is an astonishing and, hitherto, unprecedented act of Big Tech compliance with public-private silencing of speech: academic speech, Palestinian speech, and political and social justice speech. It recalls the egregious silencing, and firings, of tenured Palestinian-American Professors Steven Salaita and Sami Al-Arian, from their academic positions, acts of censorship and repression with profound material and political consequences. It is emblematic of the corporate takeover of our universities and the influence of Zionist and right-wing organizations and individuals, along with the power of information capital, to set the agenda for what can and cannot be said or taught in a public university.
We cannot allow this surveillance and censorship to go uncontested. We must protect academic freedom, defend Palestinians’ right to free speech, and forestall further corporate encroachment on our campuses.
We therefore call on anyone with access to a university Zoom account
to hold a webinar of your own on October 23, 2020,
a National Day of Action Against the Criminalization
and Censorship of Campus Speech.
We think it is important that this day of action take place on Zoom itself, if possible with livestreaming on YouTube, along with announcements on Facebook and Instagram, so as to challenge these corporations and force our universities to stand in support of students and faculty, our right to academic freedom, and struggles for justice and liberation, from the US to Palestine.
You do not need to be an expert to put on this webinar. USACBI will provide you with all the resources you need to put together a thoughtful, informed, content-rich 1-hour webinar. There will be a menu of options in our sample curriculum to choose from. And you should create an event that is doable and tailored to needs of your particular campus, timeframe, and political situation and needs.
To sign up, please write to this email address: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Someone from USACBI will be in touch with you right away!
The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) Organizing Collective
Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies, San Francisco State University
Labor for Palestine
Palestine/BDS Solidarity Working Group, Democratic Socialists of America
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Al-Awda, Palestine Right to Return Coalition
International League of Peoples’ Struggle