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July 23, 2018 3:57 pm

Stanford University Residential Assistant Threatens to ‘Physically Fight Zionists on Campus’

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The main quadrangle at Stanford University. Photo: King of Hearts / Wikimedia Commons.

An undergraduate student at Stanford University in California has expressed a desire to assault peers who support the Jewish nation’s right to self-determination, drawing criticism from some groups on campus.

Photo: Stanford College Republicans.

Hamzeh Daoud, a rising junior, threatened in a Facebook post on Friday to “physically fight zionists on campus next year if someone comes at me with their ‘israel is a democracy’ bullshit. :)”

“[And] after i abolish your ass i’ll go ahead and work every day for the rest of my life to abolish your petty ass ethnosupremacist settler-colonial state,” he wrote.

Daoud — a member of Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who will work as a residential assistant at the Norcliffe undergraduate dormitory this fall, and who served as a student senator during the 2017-18 academic year — also linked to an opinion piece published by the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz, claiming that recent legislation passed by the Knesset enshrining Israel as a Jewish nation-state discriminated against minorities.

Almost four hours after originally publishing his statement, Daoud amended it by replacing “physically” with “intellectually,” and adding, “I edited this post because I realize intellectually beating zionists is the only way to go. Physical fighting is never an answer to when trying to prove people wrong.”

His comments were nonetheless criticized on Saturday by the Stanford College Republicans (SCR), which said it was “disgusted” by Daoud’s threat of violence “toward pro-Israel students.”

“Threatening to assault other students who hold a different point of view is anathema to a free society and any kind of education, let alone the operation of the premier research university in the world,” the group wrote on Facebook.

It urged Stanford administration to terminate Daoud’s RA position, saying his “statements reveal him to be a danger to the safety of students on Stanford’s campus, and such an individual should never be put in any position of authority over other students, particularly in a dormitory that includes freshmen.”

SCR also called it “unsurprising that a member of SJP, an organization with financial ties to terrorist affiliates, would issue a call to violence against pro-Israel students.”

The post drew both condemnation and defense of Daoud, with Courtney Cooperman — a member of the Jewish Students Association board — saying she was “disgusted, although unsurprised, by [SCR’s] petty bullshit.”

“Pro-Israel students don’t need you picking on and calling out other members of the Stanford community,” she argued. “Please message me if you’d like some ideas for productively advancing the campus conversation on Israel in a way that does not involve slandering my friends.”

In a separate comment, SJP President Jordi Arnau accused SCR of lacking sensitivity, noting that Daoud “changed the post before your publication because he found a better way to word his thoughts, but you deliberately ignored his correction to ‘intellectually fight’ because all you want is for him to get harassed.”

He suggested that Daoud’s “unfortunate wording” was likely prompted by “the uncontainable anger” he felt in response to news of Israel’s nation-state bill.

Another user, Chris Cashion, asserted that it was important to hold anyone — “especially one holding a position of campus authority” — accountable when they make physical threats.

“If I were a Jewish parent and knew my child was in the dorm under Mr. Daoud’s responsibility I would have a hard time trusting that his extreme bias would not undermine his judgment,” he wrote. “I believe this post is accurate in calling for disciplinary action, if not expulsion.”

The Stanford Israel Association likewise chimed in on Sunday by denouncing Daoud’s “threat of violence against all members of our organization and a significant portion of the Stanford community.”

“We call on the University to take appropriate action to ensure that they are creating a safe environment in which all students are free to pursue their education and express their opinions without the threat of physical assault,” the group stated.

Daoud told the student-run Stanford Daily that he “took to Facebook to share my pain” over the new Israeli law. “I apologize if I made anyone feel unsafe,” he wrote in a second email. “That was not the intent and will never be an intent of mine at all.”

Despite expressing regret for his initial comments, he said he should not be subject to penalties.

“Having consequences [for] a Muslim, third-generation Palestinian refugee [who] has been constantly called a terrorist by multiple members of SCR, guests of SCR on campus and other students, is rather shameful,” Daoud argued.

A spokesperson for the university told the Daily that the administration was aware of and “following up” on the post.

“Stanford is committed to free expression of ideas and a culture of inclusion where all members of the university community can feel safe,” the spokesperson said.

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