Join us today to resist censorship with Leila Khaled: We Will Not Be Silenced

Today, October 23, over 10 different universities will host webinars, meetings and discussions over Zoom as part of We Will Not Be Silenced: Day of Action Against the Criminalization and Censorship of Campus Speech, organized by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Each of these webinars and events, organized by concerned faculty, students and university-affiliated groups, will include a message from Palestinian resistance icon Leila Khaled alongside prominent scholars and advocates addressing colonialism, occupation, social justice and liberation movements.

The actions of Zoom and the University of Hawai’i have underscored exactly why this day of action is so important. This event – organized to protest censorship and defend academic freedom – was itself censored by a technology company while the University of Hawai’i did nothing to uphold its responsibilities. In response to complaints from anti-Palestinian, pro-apartheid organizations, Zoom deleted the event organized by several academic departments and university groups, while the university itself remained largely silent at this corporate trampling of academic freedom except to issue inaccurate and distancing comments.

“In the age of COVID-19, when so much of university life is online, university administrations have the urgent responsibility to protect academic freedom. What we saw at SFSU, and are now seeing at the University of Hawai’i, is the dangerous convergence of Big Tech, Israeli interests, and a corporatized university to accelerate the demise of free speech. Students, faculty and staff can and will resist censorship,” said Prof. Cynthia Franklin of the University of Hawai’i. “We will continue to fight for our universities as spaces of free and critical thinking, and to struggle for a free Palestine. We will not be silenced!”

Despite the deeply troubling news from the University of Hawai’i, 10 more events are moving forward as planned. The schedule of events is published below, and we invite all to participate widely in these events. By participating in these webinars and online meetings, you can help to emphasize the critical importance of academic freedom – which must include anti-colonial Palestinian voices. 

The national day of action against the criminalization and censorship of campus political speech was organized by USACBI in response to the events of September 23, when corporate tech giants Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube acted in lockstep with San Francisco State University (SFSU) to shut down an open classroom webinar 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. Leila Khaled, along with Black, Jewish and South African scholars, advocates and former political prisoners, was a speaker at the open classroom organized by Profs. Rabab Abdulhadi (AMED) and Tomomi Kinukawa (WGS).

If Zoom will not withdraw its decision–which it has taken for entirely spurious reasons– college presidents should break their contracts with the company,” said Andrew Ross of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) at New York University, emphasizing the university’s responsibility to uphold academic freedom. 

Despite censorship, repression and campaigns of harassment, we will not be silenced. Join us today for the following events and activities. Hear from Leila Khaled and many speakers and scholars: 

List of Events

  • New York University
    Friday, October 23
    4:00 pm Eastern time (1 pm Pacific time)
    To join, enter the following meeting ID into Zoom:
    950 4559 5136

    • Nerdeen Kiswani (CUNY/Within our Lifetime)
    • Fred Moten (NYU)
    • Radhika Sainath (Palestine Legal)
    • moderated by Andrew Ross (NYU/USACBI)
    • (with a message from Leila Khaled)
  • San Francisco State University
    Friday, October 23
    3 pm – 4 pm Pacific time (6 pm – 7 pm Eastern time)
    Facebook Event:
    Zoom details: Meeting ID: 821 8607 8651
    Passcode: 692558

    • Hatem Bazian: Lecturer, Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, University of California, Berkeley.
    • Jennifer Beach: Lecturer, English Department, SFSU; Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) SF
    • Student Activist with Jewish Voice For Peace (JVP) Bay Area

Censored Events

  • University of Hawa’ii
    Friday, October 23
    3 pm – 4:30 pm Hawai’i time
    Facebook event page
    Organized by Students and Faculty for Justice in Palestine @UH, KOA Futures, UHM Dept. of Ethnic Studies, Hawai’i Peace and Justice
    Panelists: Kaleikoa Ka’eo (UH Maui) and Ma’an Odah (UHM)

    • Moderator: Joy Enomoto (UHM)


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