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Zoom said to cancel event with Palestinian terrorist hijacker Leila Khaled

Registration remains open for talk; organizers say videoconferencing company threatening to ‘silence Palestinian narratives’

Leila Khaled at the congress of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, in Ankara, Turkey, February 11, 2018 (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
Leila Khaled at the congress of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, in Ankara, Turkey, February 11, 2018 (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

A planned speech by a Palestinian terrorist at a virtual event hosted by San Francisco State University suffered a setback Tuesday after Zoom reportedly pulled the plug on hosting the event amid a public outcry.

Leila Khaled, who helped hijack an Israel-bound flight in 1969, was scheduled to give a speech on Wednesday as part of an event organized by the university’s Department of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies on “Teaching Palestine.”

“In light of the speaker’s reported affiliation or membership in a U.S. 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.

The group said it had threatened to take the virtual meeting platform to court over the webinar. It also credited the cancellation to protests by a newly established group called End Jew Hatred.

PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled in a Palestinian refugee camp, November 14, 1970. (AP Photo/Harry Koundakjian)

“All communications platforms have been put on notice: block terrorism and cancel anti-Semitism, or you will be canceled,” the Lawfare Project said in a statement.

There was no immediate confirmation from Zoom, and a registration page for the event remained open as of late Tuesday night.

Organizers of the talk said in a statement: “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, was scheduled to give a discussion titled “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice, & Resistance: A conversation with Leila Khaled,” and was billed as a Palestinian feminist, militant and leader.

She 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 the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (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.

She remains a member of the PFLP, an organization that is blacklisted as a terrorist entity by the US, Israel and the European Union.

JTA contributed to this report.

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