Lawyer Urges Stanford to Take Action Against Student Who Threatened to ‘Physically Fight Zionists’
An attorney has called on Stanford University to prevent a student who threatened to assault Zionist peers from serving in a position of authority on campus, saying failure to do so would be a sign of illegal discrimination.
Jerome M. Marcus — writing on behalf of a “Jewish and Zionist undergraduate” who requested to remain anonymous due to safety concerns — told Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne in a Tuesday email that Hamzeh Daoud’s “temperament” render him unfit to carry out the duties of a Resident Assistant.
Daoud — who is set to work at the Norcliffe dormitory this fall — threatened in a Facebook post last month 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 added.
He later amended his statement to say “intellectually fight,” explaining that “physical fighting is never an answer to when trying to prove people wrong.”
The remarks — initially exposed by the Stanford College Republicans — drew condemnation from members of the school’s Jewish and Zionist community, including Hillel and the Stanford Israel Association.
If Stanford fails to rescind Daoud’s appointment based on his stated views, it “will have clearly discriminated against Zionist students on campus, in violation of federal law and its own formal policies,” Marcus wrote.
He pointed to a history of alleged social media posts that have since been taken down, which “are quite recent” and “reveal Daoud to be a very angry young man who frequently makes obscene and threatening statements against Zionists and Zionism.”
One of these statements — which Daoud published in May on Twitter, and is still available online — read, “f*ck your liberal zionist a**. f*ck your jewish state. and f*ck the notion that makes you believe that the resiliance [sic] and beauty that embodies judaism, jewish people, and the jewish religion is Israel.”
“Israel is a state that needs to be dismantled,” he continued. “Any other opinion is complicity.”
In another tweet, Daoud allegedly wrote, “For those who dont speak arabic; this translate [sic] to God curse Israel. God curse the shit out of Israel :)!”
Marcus said Stanford “cannot responsibly continue to employ” Daoud without “completing a full investigation” of his now-closed social media accounts, yet also indicated that the aforementioned posts have already implicated Daoud.
In particular, he rejected Daoud’s dismissal of Zionism — the belief that the Jewish people have a right to national self-determination — as a concept divorced from Judaism, asserting instead that “Zionism is an important element of the Jewish faith, as well as a principle adhered to by some non-Jews for religious or other reasons.”
“Jews pray three times a day for the return of the Jewish people to Zion and Jerusalem; they pray so every time they say grace after meals, and whenever they comfort a Jewish mourner, among many, many other times,” Marcus noted. “These religious commitments are shared by many Jewish people around the world.”
As it is bound to do with all other religious practices protected under the First Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Stanford is required to respect the Jewish commitment to Zionism — an attitude that “must be rendered by all Stanford employees, particularly those whom Stanford employs with the sole duty of advising and supporting undergraduates,” he maintained.
The attorney’s argument echoed one put forth by several Jewish organizations last month, which warned in a statement that “Zionism is a longstanding and sincerely held religious belief central to the Jewish religion.”
“The law mandates that minority communities be offered protection from this kind of vicious, bigoted targeting,” the groups — among them the World Jewish Congress, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and the Lawfare Project legal nonprofit — observed.
Marcus pointed to a number of past instances when Stanford students faced repercussions for statements linked to their peers’ identities, including a 2014 incident when funding was retracted from a student group that sought to hold a conference with speakers accused of making comments hostile to the LGBT+ community.
The following year, the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon was denied on-campus housing after it was found to have created a “sexually hostile environment” by permitting pledges to make degrading jokes about women.
“There seems no room for doubt that if a Stanford student had made statements like those made by Daoud, but directed at black students, or gay students, or women students, or Muslim students, he would not be afforded the opportunity to change his physical threats into a statement of a plan to demolish their ‘asses intellectually,'” Marcus wrote.
“And even if that change were made, there can be no doubt that Stanford would not be indifferent to the resulting threat to ‘abolish’ a black student’s or a gay student’s or a woman student’s, or a Muslim student’s ‘ass’ intellectually, whatever that means,” he continued. “There is no legitimate basis upon which Zionist students can be distinguished from any other student holding views opposed to those of a Stanford speaker.”
Marcus told The Algemeiner that he had not yet heard back from Stanford. A spokesperson for the university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.