Source: Jerusalem Post, By DONNA RACHEL EDMUNDS SEPTEMBER 21, 2020 18:45
A speech due to be given by the former PFLP terrorist and “poster girl for Palestinian terrorism” at San Francisco State University has drawn much criticism.
A planned speech by former Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist Leila Khaled, due to be given via video link to students at San Francisco State University (SFSU) on Wednesday, may contravene US anti-terror laws, an NGO has said.
Khaled took part in hijacking a plane in 1969 and the mass-hijacking of four flights on September 6, 1970, boarding El Al Flight 219 with her associate Patrick Argüello in order to divert it to a remote airstrip in Jordan. When Argüello was killed by an air marshal during the hijacking, Khaled tried to detonate a grenade which would have killed everyone aboard. Instead she was subdued, and a few days later exchanged for civilian hostages taken from the other flights hijacked that day.
Fifty years on, Khaled remains unrepentant and regularly takes speaking engagements. On Wednesday, September 23, she is due to address SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) study program, in a talk entitled “Who’s Narratives? Gender, Justice and Resistance: a conversation with Leila Khaled.”
The event has caused an outcry, with many calling for it to be cancelled. Now, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has warned that the event may even be illegal and in contravention of America’s anti-terror laws.
Khaled’s participation in the SFSU event can only take place via video link as she, as a member of a US designated terror organization, is ineligible for a visa to enter the States. In her case, additional provisions also apply, according to the media watchdog. The statute barring visas or admission to those involved in terrorist activities extends to any non-citizen who has engaged in terrorist activity; has incited terrorist activity while indicating intention to cause death or injury; or who endorses or espouses terrorist activity, or persuades others to do the same.
“By hosting the event, SFSU is also probably in violation of 18 US Code § 2339A for providing ‘material assistance to a terror organization,'” PMW notes, pointing out that hosting Khaled enables her to raise her profile and raise funds.
“US law criminalizes not only providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, but also aiding and abetting someone to provide that support,” Itamar Marcus, Director of PMW told The Jerusalem Post. “Whereas SFSU could argue they are not directly raising money for the terrorist organization, they are certainly giving the organization a platform that is aiding them in their ongoing attempts to gain more supporters worldwide, which may be an explicit violation of US law.
MAURICE HIRSCH, director of legal strategies at PMW, further told the Post: “Every time Khaled is given the opportunity to speak romantically about her involvement in hijacking airplanes, in support of other acts of terrorism and to promulgate the messaging of the PFLP, her goal is to normalize these terror activities and persuade others that they are acceptable actions.
“This platform, especially when provided by a university filled with young adults developing their world views, is clearly providing terror and terrorists with material assistance,” he said. “If the event takes place, the responsible people in SFSU should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Their warning came just days after the head of a Tel Aviv-based law firm wrote to the Chancellor of California University, which includes SFSU, to demand that Khaled not be hosted.
Describing Khaled as the “well-known poster girl for Palestinian terrorism since 1969 [when she was] posing while holding an AK-47 and wearing a keffiyeh,” Nitsana Darshan Leitner, president of Shurat HaDin wrote of the PFLP that it is “a Palestinian, secular, Marxist-Leninist terror group designated by the European Union, Canada, Israel, and the US State Department Bureau of Counter-terrorism as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The organization calls for the liberation of all “Palestine” and is closely associated with BDS. It has targeted civilians with suicide bombings, assassinations, hijackings and shootings since its founding in 1967.
“There is no place in civil society and academic settings for an event or program glorifying or advocating “resistance” or violence under the guise of free speech,” she added. “I call upon you and the Board of Trustees to correct this grave error and rescind the invitation.”
The writer is the CEO and co-founder of Social Lite Creative and a research fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute.