On Wednesday, September 23rd, the internet meeting platform company Zoom refused to allow San Francisco State University professors Rabab Abdulhadi and Tomomi Kinukawa from airing their scheduled classroom presentation entitled Whose Narratives?: Gender, Justice, and Resistance. Zionist and pro-Israel critics had objected to the planned participation of Leila Khaled, a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Attempts to move the presentation to other platforms, including Facebook Live and YouTube were either rejected or blocked. In response to these actions, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network (EPF PIN) has issued the following statement:
EPF PIN calls attention to recent action by the popular media platforms YouTube, Zoom, and Facebook that resulted in the censoring and suppression of voices for justice. The Steering Committee of EPF PIN
- unequivocally condemns the action,
- calls upon our network of supporters and followers to also oppose this and similar actions,
- and endorses the denunciation of the action by Jewish Voice for Peace.
The circumstances, explained in detail in the JVP statement, silenced important voices in the Palestinian struggle for liberation and justice while also denying listeners the opportunity to be exposed to dissenting views. The importance and terrible cost of this action extend far beyond concerns about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Censorship and the attempted control of discourse exemplified by the action weaken the framework of a healthy republic and undermine its most precious freedoms. In a time when our national conversations openly tout voter suppression, refusal to guarantee peaceful transition of power, and divisive affirmations that only some lives matter, actions like that of YouTube, Zoom, and Facebook add momentum to a dangerous trend toward authoritarianism in our country. They cannot be ignored and must be opposed.
In recent years, EPF PIN has stood with JVP and many other human rights organizations, as well as with a growing number of national and international leaders, in opposing legislation that criminalizes criticism of the state of Israel. Such criticism is neither antisemitic or unwarranted. Indeed, the difficult and uncomfortable truth is that many policies, laws and practices of the state of Israel demand criticism; for example,
- The detention of Palestinian children without charge or access to legal counsel or contact with parents,
- Near daily instances of collective punishment and violations of international law including home demolitions, shoot-to-kill laws, construction and expansion of Jewish only settlements and occupation of the West Bank;
- The settler colonial practices of stripping Palestinians of legal and human rights while appropriating their lands and homes,
- Dozens of discriminatory laws against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and
- The inhumane, catastrophic siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip.
EPF PIN joins the JVP call for corrective action from San Francisco State University and demands an end to the censoring of Palestinian voices.”