Sunday, May 19

Anthropology guest lecturer accused by students of encouraging anti-Semitism

During a lecture in the Fowler Museum, Rabab Abdulhadi, an Arab and Muslim ethnicities studies professor at San Francisco State University, and students argued about the contents of Abdulhadi's lecture. Abdulhadi said Zionism is linked to white supremacy. (Tanmay Shankar/Daily Bruin)

During a lecture in the Fowler Museum, Rabab Abdulhadi, an Arab and Muslim ethnicities studies professor at San Francisco State University, and students argued about the contents of Abdulhadi's lecture. Abdulhadi said Zionism is linked to white supremacy. (Tanmay Shankar/Daily Bruin)

Students said they think a guest lecturer for an anthropology class promoted anti-Semitic ideas Tuesday.

Rabab Abdulhadi, an Arab and Muslim ethnicities studies professor at San Francisco State University, delivered a guest lecture to roughly 100 students in Anthropology M144P: “Constructing Race,” which focuses on race and racism and is taught by Kyeyoung Park, an associate professor of anthropology and Asian American studies at UCLA.

Prior to the lecture, students said they were told attendance was mandatory and that the lecture would cover topics of Islamophobia.

Abdulhadi said during the lecture she supports Jewish people who oppose the state of Israel. She also said she thinks the state of Israel has committed colonialist actions that are related to white supremacy.

During the lecture, some students snapped their fingers in support of Abdulhadi’s comments. Other students said they think the lecture veered into anti-Semitism.

Abdulhadi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shayna Lavi, a third-year anthropology student, told Abdulhadi during the lecture that she found Abdulhadi’s equating of Zionism with white supremacy offensive as a Jewish and Zionist student. Zionism is a movement advocating for the establishment of the Jewish state Israel in Palestine.

Abdulhadi said during the lecture she respected Lavi’s feelings and continued delivering the lecture. She added she did not claim to speak for all sides on the subject.

“I am coming here to speak about a particular topic, the way I see it as a scholar and a scholar-activist and a public intellectual engaged in things every single day,” Abdulhadi said.

Abdulhadi said while she respected the students’ views, she was invited as a guest lecturer to the class to give her perspective and her comments. She said she would continue lecturing because students should respect all perspectives and her comments should challenge their ideas.

“You cannot interrupt me now, I will tell you why,” Abdulhadi said. “Because today is my lecture. I am respecting you. … It’s alright if you are uncomfortable.”

Viktorya Saroyan, a third-year sociology student, said she did not think Abdulhadi responded well to criticism from students.

Ashari Whitt, a third-year African American studies and gender studies student, said in an email statement she attended the lecture and spoke to Abdulhadi during the Q&A portion. Whitt said she thinks criticisms against a foreign government should not target individuals or religious groups.

Whitt said she thinks Park failed to adequately mediate the discussion between the students and the guest lecturer.

Lavi said Park did not intervene when she saw her crying and has not addressed the lecture with the class after the event.

“(Park) hasn’t contacted me, it’s been over 24 hours, there’s been no apology sent out, nothing reprimanding the speaker,” Lavi said.

Park declined to comment.

After the lecture, Saroyan and Lavi both sent reports of the lecture to Jerry Kang, the vice chancellor of equity, diversity and inclusion. In the letters, both Saroyan and Lavi refer to the lecture discourse as hate speech.

Lavi said she would like Park to bring in a Jewish educator to speak about anti-Semitism. Saroyan said she plans to file a formal complaint with the Discrimination Prevention Office.

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  • Mark Kleiman

    This is SUCH an imbalanced article. While recognizing that ” some students snapped their fingers in support of Abdulhadi’s comments”, how is it that NONE of those students were sought out for interviews? Why do the only students quoted all have the same position? Of course a visiting lecturer is likely to be on the road after her lecture. And although I do not know and have not spoken to Dr. Park, I would be very surprised if she had been instructed not to comment, and that the silence is not her choice.

    • walt kovacs

      who “snaps” during a lecture? and i would love it if jew haters ceased their appropriation of jewish beatnik culture

  • ModernMaccabi

    Since when were professor’s personal and political opinions supposed to be used to teach a class? This seems more like indoctrination than scholarship. “I am coming here to speak about a particular topic, the way I see it as a scholar and a scholar-activist and a public intellectual engaged in things every single day,” Abdulhadi said.

    Since this was a mandatory class at UCLA it would only be fair to bring in a Zionist or pro-Israel professor or scholar-activist to share their opinions. Perhaps UCLA’s own Yehuda Pearl could speak or help find someone else qualified to balance out the damage done by Professor Abdulhadi’s lecture.

    • garyfouse

      As voiced in the DB article, one wonders if Professor Park will balance her class by inviting someone to speak about anti-Semitism or about Israel in a positive manner. I suppose not. When teachers bring in guest speakers to spew their personal opinions to a class without a counter-balancing voice (either at the same event or later on) then what we have here is not education-rather indoctrination. I taught 18 years part-time at UC Irvine (English as a Second Language), and while I was an activist outside the classroom, I never brought my opinions into the classroom. I consider it to be unprofessional.

  • HeresLookingAtYou

    Not surprised. UCLA has gone seriously downhill when it comes to tolerating Jew-hatred on campus.

  • A.S.

    As someone who was in the class the whole situation was just handled very poorly, you could tell from the start of the lecture that Professor Abdulhadi was preemptively defensive, looking her up online you’ll see that calling her a controversial figure is a bit of an understatement.

    While the lecture itself wasn’t too controversial, at least in my opinion, one student, Shayna, was quite emotional in what she had perceived as saying Zionists and White supremacists were the same (which was not what was said), Abdulhadi spoke defensively and aggressively when the student tried to continue speaking after getting choked up (stemming in part from a misunderstanding that the student had finished her question) and another student, Ashari, asked Abdulhadi to be more respectful. This resulted in Abdulhadi continuing to answer the questions, while ignoring Ashari who was talking at the same time.

    The argument only stopped after another student spoke up and essentially said that everyone needs to respect each other, the students who were snapping were doing so in response to Abdulhadi explaining that she is presenting her opinion and if it seemed biased it was because she is a person who has biases as everyone does (in the Ethnic study/academic sense).

    • walt kovacs

      so what did she say and what did her lecture have to do with anthropology

      • A.S.

        As the article mentions the class is on constructing race, her lecture was on Islamophobia, it was pretty typical lecture on the subject mostly focusing on Palestine since she is Palestinian, what made the room turn hostile was the student getting upset and crying from misunderstanding her point about Zionism’s affiliation with U.S. white supremacy which the student felt conflated them

        I would hesitate to personally call it the same thing since I am neither Jewish or Palestinian but I do understand why anti-Zionist Palestinians and Jewish people do and I also understand that it is a strong statement to make to a group of students who might not understand the nuances of anti-Semitism but I would place the burden of research on the students not the lecturer, her time with us was limited while our time to look into that history is not

        Regardless of an individual’s opinion on Israel, pro or against, it is not out there to say that the Israeli government has aligned itself with U.S. Republicans, many of which are adjacent or outright white supremacists who spread Islamophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments, and I just wish the lecturer had made that point clearer so the student hadn’t misunderstood and it would have been nice for more questions to be asked to better clarify the issue but the upset derailed that from being able to take place

        • walt kovacs

          and i can show how her words mimic statements that have come from white supremacists like david duke
          this should not have been a required lecture.
          she is a fraud

          • A.S.

            I don’t agree with people conflating Zionists with supremacists and I also won’t agree with conflating a Palestinian woman and a KKK leader

            That is disgusting Islamophobia at a time where Muslim people are targets of hate crimes and I would feel the same if a person were to say that about a Jewish individual

  • Progressive dem,goats,#MeToo

    Me Professsor too. Thanked you for support fellow Progressives student!. We share the common values with you in our progressive support of the Gay, Trans, Woman, Christian, and Atheist in our free democrat 25 Islamic Apartheid nations. Reminder for the visiting Gay Trans to pack the parachute if visiting.

  • walt kovacs

    just google her and you will see her history of intimidating jewish and pro-israel students.

    she is a fraud and a terror supporter and should not be invited onto any campus to guest lecture about anything and shouldve been terminated from sfsu long ago and it disgusts me that my tax dollars help to pay her to spread hate….
    here are some examples

  • Huskystar

    Good for her…we need more people out there to scream and shout!

  • garyfouse

    Abdulhadi is a disgrace even by SFSU standards. She has mentored the General Union of Palestinian students (GUPS), who, a few years back, were making murderious expressions of wanting to kill Israeli soldiers. She is nothing but a partisan activist against Israel, and in doing so, has publicly embarrassed SFSU-no easy feat.

  • garyfouse

    Here is what happened in 2015 when Abdulhadi was scheduled to speak at UC Irvine.