Professors at San Francisco State University tried hosting a webinar with a literal terrorist, then Zoom and YouTube shut it down.
On Sept. 23, faculty members with the Department of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas attempted to host a webinar featuring known Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled, an active leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who participated in the hijacking of two airplanes in 1969 and 1970.
Both Zoom and YouTube quickly removed the live videos, titled “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice, & Resistance: A Conversation with Leila Khaled.” Zoom said in a statement it pulled the webinar due to Khaled’s “reported affiliation or membership in a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization.”
After being shut down by Zoom, SFSU professors tried moving the webinar to YouTube, which closed it down after just 23 minutes.
Event organizers accused Zoom of trying to “silence Palestinian narratives” by violating their “freedom of speech and academic freedom.”
And before the event aired, SFSU President Lynn Mahoney penned a letter defending the understandably controversial webinar. She argued: “A university can … allow its students and faculty the freedom to express contrary, even objectionable, views while also condemning anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, racism, and other hateful ideologies that marginalize people.”
Who is Khaled?
Khaled — who has expressed little remorse for her past sins — was one of the two hijackers of TWA Flight 840 on Aug. 29, 1969. The compromised aircraft, which was on its way from Rome to Tel Aviv, landed in Syria, where the government released the attackers without charges. Instead, the Syrian regime kidnapped two Israeli passengers, whom the government freed months later in exchange for Syrian and Egyptian prisoners in Israel.
Then again, on Sept. 6, 1970, Khaled attempted to hijack El Al Flight 219 from Tel Aviv to New York City. She tried commandeering the flight following a brief stop in Amsterdam. The pilot, however, foiled Khaled’s plan by putting the aircraft into a nosedive — dropping 10,000 feet per minute — after the terrorist pulled the pins from two hand grenades and verbally threatening to blow up the plane. The resulting negative g-force from the nosedive pushed Khaled and her accomplice to the ground. A sky marshal fatally shot Khaled’s co-conspirator. Khaled, on the other hand, was subdued after being knocked unconscious during the intense free fall. The grenades, thankfully, did not detonate.
The pilot ultimately diverted the plane to London, where Khaled was taken into custody. However, the British government released her soon thereafter in exchange for hostages taken in a separate hijacking.
During a different web event on Oct. 3 of this year, Khaled made clear she still holds the same radical beliefs that inspired her past terrorism. She told members of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle that Jewish people are now “playing the same role of Hitler” against Palestinians, claiming Zionists are “guiding” American policy, which has been demonstrably pro-Israel under President Donald Trump.