Arizona State University (ASU) canceled a pro-Palestine event that was scheduled on campus for Friday. The event, titled "Palestine as an American Issue" was set to feature Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) as a guest speaker, but was canceled with a last-minute notice on Thursday evening.
The cancellation of the event came as a surprise to organizers who claim to have been working with the university for months to plan the event. According to an ASU spokesperson, the cancellation was due to procedural issues.
Tlaib, a Palestinian American with a history of antisemitism, has been vocal in her support for Palestine, even amid the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. She has faced criticism for her stance and was censured by her colleagues in the House of Representatives last week for "calling for the destruction of the state of Israel" and "promoting false narratives."
The pro-Palestine event was organized by the anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), known for their violent actions against Jewish students on college campuses. The cancellation of the event came after a bipartisan group of state lawmakers condemned Tlaib's views and stated that they are not welcome in the state of Arizona.
The statement from the lawmakers read, "ASU should not use public dollars, collected through student fees, to support SJP – an organization that, in addition to opposing the existence of Israel, proudly denies the existence of the United States."
In response to the cancellation, ASU wrote in an email that the event was planned by groups not affiliated with the university and did not meet the necessary requirements for crowd management, security, and insurance.
However, organizers of the event claim to have been working with the university for months and argue that ASU's decision to cancel the event is a form of "ethnic intimidation."
Earlier this month, a CAIR-sponsored event featuring Tlaib as a keynote speaker was also canceled by the venue. CAIR, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, has long been critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians. The group's Arizona chapter had invited Tlaib to their annual banquet, but the venue, Sheraton Mesa Hotel, backed out of hosting the event.
In response to the event's cancellation, Tlaib addressed a group of protestors on ASU's campus via Zoom and encouraged them to not let the university "sway" them. She also criticized ASU's decision, accusing them of not allowing for "real peace."
Tlaib's remarks were met with protests and marches around the campus, which led to the detention of one person by the Tempe Police Department. However, Tlaib urged the protestors to remain focused on "saving lives" and not let ASU's decision affect their cause.
As venues continue to shut down events featuring pro-Palestine speakers and aligning with Hamas, the current conflict between Israel and Palestine continues to escalate. ASU's decision to cancel the event can be seen as a public safety measure and a strong stance in support of Israel's right to self-defense.