SAN FRANCISCO—On Tuesday, the Zoom Video Communications company canceled an online open classroom, Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice, & Resistance, presented by the San Francisco State University.
The class was held by two professors, Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, of AMED Studies and Dr. Tomomi Kinukawa, of Women and Gender Studies. They invited students to join the class to have a conversation with Leila Khaled, who is a Palestinian feminist, militant and leader.
According to the letter from Benjamin Ryberg, who is the Chief Operating Officer and Director of Research at The Lawfare Project said, “Khaled is a notorious member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization. She was involved in two airplane hijackings. If Zoom nonetheless permits SFSU to use its video conferencing service form the purpose, Zoom may be criminally liable for violating 18 U.S.C § 2339B.”
As Zoom made the prohibition for the class, they made a public statement:
“In light of the speaker’s reported affiliation or membership in the U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and SFSU’s inability to confirm otherwise, we determined the meeting violates Zoom’s Terms of Service and told SFSU they may not use Zoom for this particular event.”
The President of SFSU, Lynn Mahoney, responded Zoom’s action through a public letter said that legal freedom of speech and academic freedom are often challenged, although they disagree with Zoom’s action. Still, the school recognizes that Zoom is a private company with the right to set its policy for its service. The school says they will support faculties to conduct their own teaching and freedom of speech, including the class, which was canceled by Zoom.