Most historians of the Arab-Israeli conflict agree that Palestinian terrorism undermined the peace process. Israel tried—in 1993, 2000, and 2008—but extremists rejected negotiations with Israel as apostasy.
Samah Idriss, the late Lebanese writer and anti,-Zionist activist, was one such extremist. He founded the “Campaign to Boycott Supporters of ‘Israel’ in Lebanon” to intimidate anyone who disagreed with him.
McGill’s Professor Rula Jurdi Abisaab worked with Idriss, who died in November 2021. She praised him at a February 6, 2022 “Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement” (Masar Badil) conference, “Remembering Samah Idriss.”
According to Abisaab, Idriss should be honored for “fighting against institutionalized Zionism” and “attacking peace discourse with Israel [sic].” Idriss also praised Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions on Israel (BDS)—although he felt “armed struggle” was better—for building an
“audience” to “complement and support” a future revolution.
Abisaab also glorified Idriss’s campaign to erase Zionist sympathizers in Lebanese education, politics, sports, and science. She called it a fight against “universalized Western notions of freedom”—such as, perhaps, the idea that one should not be harassed for supporting peace with Israel.
The organizer of the conference, Masar Badil—a radical Marxist youth anti-Israel group—goes even further on its website. It excoriates the Palestinian Authority for negotiating with the “Zionist entity,” abjuring the Oslo and Camp David peace accords as “null and void… illegitimate.” Masar Badil also demands that Israel free Palestinian terrorists.
The February event’s moderator, Charlotte Kates, and her husband, Khaled Barakat, are core members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)—a US, Canada, and European Union-designated terror group. Kates has also argued against terrorist designations for groups like Hamas, which regularly targets Israeli civilians and promotes genocide against all Jews.
It was irresponsible for Abisaab to appear with Kates and Masar Badil activists. Nevertheless, McGill’s “academic freedom” policies will protect her unless she directly incites violence.
The conference’s other speaker, San Francisco State University Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, has encouraged discrimination and aggression against Jews and Israelis. She is a founding member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACB)—part of the antisemitic BDS campaign.
Professor Adbulhadi has tried to tie SFSU to Hamas-dominated universities. In 2014, AMCHA accused her of using public university funds to finance a “solidarity” trip to Palestine where SFSU students were invited to meet with Leila Khaled and other members of US-designated terror groups.
Make no mistake: Khaled remains an active member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She was involved in the hijacking of TWA Flight 840 in 1969 and El Al Flight 219 in 1970. She has also claimed that the 2000-2005 Second Intifada—a terror campaign that killed as many as 1038 Israelis, including 887 Israeli civilians—was “not violent enough.”
But Professor Abisaab does not have to go as far as Abulhadi’s terrorist-sponsoring “resistance studies” to provoke violence. Idriss’s specter will be satisfied as long as the McGill lecturer indoctrinates students into supporting BDS and violent revolution in Palestine. For Abisaab, peace is the enemy—not the goal—in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Hundreds of thousands may continue to die, but that is a small price to pay for preventing “normalization” with Israel.
A slightly different version of this article appeared in The Jerusalem Post.