Wednesday, May 6, 2015
An Open Letter to SFSU Professor Rabab Abdulhadi
This morning, I sent the below e-mail to Professor Rabab Abdulhadi of San Francisco State University regarding her "no-show" Monday night at UC Irvine.
Dear Professor Abdulhadi,
My name is Gary Fouse, and I am a part-time teacher at UC Irvine Ext. This Monday I was present at an event in which you and some of your students from the SFSU General Union of Palestinian Students were scheduled to appear as a panel. Some other members of the community were present as well. We were all prepared to afford you and your panelists the right to speak. We were also prepared to participate in the q and a and videotape the event as well-as is our legal right under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, the sponsors of the event, the Muslim Student Union, Students for Justice in Palestine and Alkalima, were not in favor of us videotaping. As is regularly the case, they told us that no videotaping was allowed. At that point, the Vice Chancellor for Students Chief of Staff, Edgar Dormitorio, went to the back of the room and conferred with the sponsors for about half an hour as the event was delayed. The end result was that the sponsors were informed that the university could not enforce a no videotaping rule.
Meanwhile, the table on that stage with two microphones remained empty. Indeed, the moderator told the audience that the event was going to held via Skype and the microphones were removed from the table. When the event eventually began, the audience of some 35 people were treated to a Skype interview of some Palestinian gentleman in Washington DC, who talked about the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and took one question. By the time he finished, the crowd had dwindled to about 15-20. Then it was over.
What happened to you? There was no explanation given for your absence either in person or via Skype.
Of course, I see various possible scenarios. One is that your flight from San Francisco was delayed or cancelled. Another is that you were actually hiding behind the curtains of the stage waiting for us to leave or that you were actually holding the event in another room. Possibly, the Skype session began after I and the other community members left the hall and went home. Who knows?
Regardless of what the true story is, it appears to me that you had no desire to be videotaped or asked pointed questions from me or others during the q and a. I would have liked to ask you whether you condemn or defend posters made up by GUPS students a year or so ago that read, "My heroes have always killed colonizers". I would have liked to ask you if you condemn or defend the social media expressions of a GUPS student last year at SFSU, who fantasized about killing IDF soldiers with a knife. It has been widely reported that you are a mentor to GUPS. In addition, I would have liked to ask you about that trip you took to the West Bank and Jordan last year, paid for with university-public funding- that was granted to attend a conference at a university in Lebanon, (which was cancelled) but reportedly used to meet "in solidarity" with your anti-Israel associates.
At any rate, I hope that sometime in the future, you will come to speak at UC Irvine. You should know, however-and I'm sure you do know by now- that while your right to speak and speak without disruption will be respected, some audience members including myself will be ready to ask you questions during the q and a.
And you will be videotaped.