After Threat of Violence, Calls to Fire RA

A student at Stanford University is under fire for posting that he would "physically fight" Zionists who came onto the campus -- and some are questioning whether the university is taking his words seriously enough.

August 1, 2018
 

College Republicans at Stanford University are calling for an incoming resident assistant to be fired after he threatened to “physically fight” Zionists on campus.

A Stanford spokesman would not reveal whether the student would keep his job, saying merely that the university would “address the issues.”

Hamzeh Daoud, a rising junior, posted on Facebook last week that he would “physically fight” Zionists “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 ethno-supremacist, settler-colonial state.”

Hours later, Daoud amended his post to read that he would “intellectually,” not “physically” attack them.

“I edited this post because I realize intellectually beating Zionists is the way to go,” he wrote in his edited post, which has since been deleted, along with Daoud’s Facebook account. “Physical fighting is never an answer to [sic] when trying to prove people wrong.”

But his original diatribe was captured and disseminated on social media -- and it ignited an online discussion about free speech and the campus debate on Israel and Palestine.

Daoud could not be reached for comment.

The Stanford College Republicans demanded that Daoud be dismissed as a resident assistant, writing on Facebook that the group was “disgusted” by the “threat of violence.” A formal online petition for Daoud’s firing had been signed more than 450 times as of Tuesday afternoon.

“Mr. Daoud’s 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,” the College Republicans wrote on Facebook.

Stanford spokesman E. J. Miranda said in a statement to Inside Higher Ed that threats of violence had “no place” at Stanford.

But Miranda noted that Daoud had clarified his post to say he did not support physical violence and that Daoud had apologized in “a personal letter to members of the Jewish community at Stanford.”

“While we recognize these steps taken by the author of the post, we also have an obligation to address the original communication and its effects,” Miranda said in his statement. “Our students must feel they are able to voice their own views on campus without fear of physical retaliation, and they also must feel physically safe in our student residences.”

Miranda said federal privacy laws limited what the university could disclose; he said Daoud would receive “fair and thoughtful consideration" but did not elaborate.

Rabbi Dov Greenberg, executive director of the Rohr Chabad House, a Jewish student center at Stanford, wrote in a column in the conservative National Review that had Daoud been targeting LGBTQ students or Black Lives Matter supporters, the “outcry would be universal and deafening.” But the response to threats of violence against pro-Israel students is “indifference,” Greenberg wrote.

“The threat of violence at Stanford is a symptom of a larger assault,” he wrote.

Another student, Hannah Smith, wrote an op-ed in the student newspaper The Stanford Daily defending Daoud. She wrote that the College Republicans’ criticism of Daoud was part of their continued use of “bullying and fearmongering tactics in lieu of engaging in intellectual debate.”

Smith, who said she is a friend of Daoud’s and both Jewish and a Zionist, wrote in her piece that Daoud has a “deep passion” for social justice and that he works tirelessly with the student organization Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine.

His words were “impassioned hyperbole,” Smith wrote.

“While for four hours Hamzeh’s Facebook wall read of physical fights, [the College Republicans] have been engaging in vindictive and harmful targeting of Stanford community members for years. They didn’t redact Hamzeh’s name, instead blasting a portrayal of him as a violent Muslim Palestinian into the vicious world of the internet,” she wrote.

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