YouTube took down the livestream of a webinar honoring a Palestinian terrorist just as it was getting started on Wednesday, after organizers at San Francisco State State University had already been forced to shift platforms due to Zoom’s similar refusal to host the event.
The university’s Department of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies on “Teaching Palestine” had been attempting to move forward with the webinar and had managed to introduce several of the panelists, including Leila Khaled, who helped hijack an Israel-bound flight in 1969, before the stream went black and the caption “this video has been removed for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service” appeared.
In the 30 minutes before the stream was taken down, the organizers managed to get in a statement recognizing their own existence on occupied Native American land followed by a series of lengthy introductions, including from SFSU Associate Professor Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, who lionized Khaled as someone she dreamed of becoming as a child.
Khaled is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is a group designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US and the European Union.
The organizers then played a video clip of Khaled in which she could be heard saying, “I don’t agree with the murder of civilians wherever they are in the world,” but “our enemies call any form of popular resistance terrorism,” and “as far as I’m concerned occupation is terrorism.” Seconds later, the feed was cut.
The webinar had initially been slated to be held over Zoom, but the video conference service notified organizers on Tuesday that they would not be allowed to use its site.
“In light of the speaker’s reported affiliation or membership in a US designated foreign terrorist organization, and SFSU’s inability to confirm otherwise, we determined the meeting is in violation of Zoom’s Terms of Service and told SFSU they may not use Zoom for this particular event,” Zoom said in a statement to the The Lawfare Project legal aid organization.
Organizers of the event said in a Tuesday response: “Zoom has threatened to cancel this webinar and silence Palestinian narratives. We expect SFSU/CSU to uphold our freedom of speech and academic freedom by providing an alternative venue to this open classroom.”
Khaled, 76, never received the opportunity to address the event titled, “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice, & Resistance: A conversation with Leila Khaled.”
Organizers, in the event description, referred to her as a Palestinian feminist, militant and leader.
Khaled was part of a team that hijacked TWA Flight 840 on its way from Rome to Tel Aviv in August 1969. A year later she participated in the attempted hijacking of an El Al flight from Amsterdam to New York City as part of the Dawson’s Field hijackings, a series of simultaneous hijackings carried out by PFLP.
Khaled was arrested in London, where the pilot diverted the plane, and later released in exchange for hostages from another hijacking. She lives in Amman, Jordan.