ZOOM cancels scheduled webinar for hosting Palestinian woman

ZOOM cancels scheduled webinar for hosting Palestinian woman
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The unprecedented act comes as world’s leading video communications company calls it against its terms of service.

ZOOM cancels scheduled webinar for hosting Palestinian woman. On Tuesday evening, in an unprecedented act, the Zoom Video Communications company canceled a virtual panel, a day before the scheduled webinar hosting Palestinian official, Leila Khaled. Khaled was scheduled to be one of the speakers on a panel that was titled “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice & Resistance”. The event was to be sponsored by SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program and the Women and Gender Studies Department.

A promotional brochure of the webinar on Zoom

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Statement from the Zoom

A statement from the Zoom company to the organizers says: “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.”

Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, Director of the webinar and senior scholar at the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies said: “This censorship violates our freedom of speech and academic freedom as faculty to teach, deprives our students from the right to learn, and denies the general public the right to hear from speakers who are not readily available on mainstream media.”

She also expressed that they are not accepting Zoom’s caving in to Zionist and racist pressures. She added that SFSU has an obligation to protect their classes. The banning by Zoom triggered anger among activists as they consider it another way to silence Palestinian narratives. For years, Facebook and Twitter also deactivated and deleted  hundreds of accounts of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian journalists and activists. The link to the scheduled Zoom link was disabled so the organizers chose another method – YouTube live video – but after a few minutes it was also deleted. Moreover, the invitation banner on Facebook was also removed from the organizers page by Facebook administration.

Layla Samara, Projects coordinator of Sada Social Center that aims to document and monitor violations against Palestinian narratives on social media platforms, said to Factfile,  ” We consider that this approach by the Zoom platform raises concerns about further restrictions on Palestinian activities through the platform, especially since this decision was issued by Zoom administration after pressure from Zionist organizations and groups in the United States, which indicates the ability of Zoom to accept this kind of pressure against Palestinian posts and narratives.

Who is Leila Khaled?

Khaled, 76, is a Palestinian refugee, a mother of two based currently in Jordan. She is a member in a Palestinian faction called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Khaled came to public attention for her role in the hijacking of the Israel-bound flights in 1969 and 1970.She was jailed for nearly a month in London and was later released in a prisoner exchange for civilian hostages kidnapped by her fellow PFLP members. Leila Khaled’s image flashed across the world as she was the first women to hijack an airplane. The picture of a young, determined looking woman with a checkered Kufiyyah , clutching an AK-47 became a Palestinian icon of resistance.

Recently, due to the coronavirus lockdown, people cannot take to the streets, instead, online protests, on the Zoom application, attracted hundreds of activists from across the world to protest for Palestinian rights.

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