ROME—A San Francisco State University-sponsored talk by convicted Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled was canceled by Zoom and YouTube, according to the Lawfare Project, a pro bono U.S. group that supports Jewish causes around the world.
Khaled—who is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine group, which the U.S. has labeled a terrorist organization—helped hijack an Israel-bound flight from Rome in 1969, and was scheduled to give a talk as part of an event hosted by the university’s Department of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies on “Teaching Palestine.”
When the talk was announced last month, Lawfare Project lawyers, who have started a grassroots Jewish civil-rights movement called #EndJewHatred, launched a campaign to get Zoom to cancel the talk, which culminated in a sit-in at Zoom headquarters in San Jose, California, on Tuesday.
The Lawfare Project reported that Zoom, which did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily Beast, told them: “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.”
On Wednesday, the university group first said it would livestream the event on Facebook and launched a petition to try to garner support, calling Khaled a “powerful, inspiring figure.” Around 1,800 people signed the online petition.
After Facebook reportedly said the talk could not be hosted, the university group then livestreamed the talk on YouTube, which went dark after 23 minutes, as nearly 1,000 viewers were watching just as an archival video of Khaled defending her previous activities was shown. The video went offline after Khaled said “People have the right to fight those who occupy their land by any means possible, including weapons.”
The livestream was replaced by the message, “This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s terms of service.”
Zoom has previously banned questionable meetings when there is suspected exploitation or sex trafficking involved, but this is the first known cancellation by the popular online meeting outlet of a university-sponsored event.
The Lawfare Project said that by going ahead with the talk, Zoom would risk exposure to criminal liability under legislation that outlaws the provision of material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.