Zoom canceled an online talk by Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled after Jewish groups pressed the videoconferencing giant to scuttle the event.
Khaled — a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who helped hijack two airplanes in 1969 and 1970 — was scheduled to speak during a Wednesday virtual event held by San Francisco State University.
The talk drew fire from advocacy groups such as the Lawfare Project, which argued that Zoom could face legal liability for hosting it because the US has labeled Khaled’s group a terrorist organization. The California-based company determined the event violated its terms of service for that very reason.
“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,” a Zoom spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the firm is “committed to supporting the open exchange of ideas and conversations.”
YouTube also appeared to remove a video of Khaled’s talk for violating its terms of service, and Facebook took down a listing for the event because it went against a company policy “prohibiting praise, support and representation for dangerous organizations,” according to the Jewish News of Northern California.
Khaled was thrust into the spotlight after her role in the airplane attacks four decades ago, for which she became known as the first woman to hijack a plane. A 2001 article in The Guardian newspaper described her as “the pin-up of armed struggle.”
A Jewish activist coalition called #EndJewHatred condemned SFSU for hosting Khaled — whom it called “a racist Jew hater, extremist and terrorist” — and slammed Zoom for facilitating the event.
SFSU President Lynn Mahoney defended the right of the school’s faculty to bring in controversial speakers.
“Zoom’s cancelation of the event will be deeply wounding to some members of our community who will feel themselves and their dissent silenced once again, just as the participation of Leila Khaled in a class panel discussion is deeply wounding to others in our community,” Mahoney said in a statement Wednesday.