A student adviser chosen by Stanford University to lead other students in a residential environment that allows “all views (popular and unpopular)” to be voiced, heard and explored is out of a job after threatening online to “physically fight” Zionists.
The American Center for Law and Justice brought the issue to the attention of Stanford officials.
It was on July 20 that Hamzeh Daoud, who had been confirmed as a paid student adviser at the California university, posted on Facebook the statement: “im gonna physically fight zionists on campus next year if someone comes at me with their ‘israel is a democracy’ bull— : ) and after I abolish your —- I’ll go ahead and work every day for the rest of my life to abolish your petty —- ethnosupremacist settler-colonial state.”
ACLJ said it was retained by a Stanford undergraduate student on behalf of himself and others who had been directly impacted by the threats. The legal group wrote to Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne earlier this month arguing that while freedom of speech must be protected, there is no freedom to threaten others.
“Disagreements on college campuses are not uncommon, and the ACLJ supports the free exchange of ideas protected by the First Amendment,” ACLJ said. “Mr. Daoud’s post, however, contains the kind of hate, vitriol, and direct threats of physical violence that have no place on campus whatsoever.”
Shortly after, Stanford “released a statement reiterating the fact that threats of physical violence have absolutely no place in the Stanford community, and that the threatening student had agreed to step down from his position as an RA and begin psychological treatment,” ACLJ said.
The organization noted that threats of violence “should always be taken seriously, especially a threat of physical violence made because a student does not like the ‘ethnosupremacy’ of a ‘Jewish state.'”
“It is important to note that, according to a recent report by the FBI, the majority of religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States were committed against Jewish people – and this despite Jews making up less than 2 percent of the population. In fact, since the FBI began reporting these statistics in 1993, there has not been a single year in which Jewish people were not the victims of the majority of religiously motivated hate crimes.”
Regarding the Stanford student’s threat’s, ACLJ said that ultimately, it is up to the university administration “to decide if the student should be removed from campus entirely for having violated the Stanford Fundamental Standard (violation of which ‘will be sufficient cause for removal of the university’).”
“That was not the purpose of our letter though, or of our representation. All we asked for, and received, was that the rights of our client, and of countless other students, be respected. Stanford University must support, among other things, the right of all students to physical safety in their dormitories and campus environment, and their right to speak freely and respectfully without fear of violent repercussions from university employees and authority figures.”
ACLJ noted the school’s failure to address the problem right away, taking some two weeks to respond.
“Had Daoud made a similar threat to commit violence upon a member of another group – had he, for instance, threatened women, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or a person of color – indeed had he simply threatened violence without targeting a group – this letter would undoubtedly be unnecessary as we are sure that Stanford would have swiftly, and justifiably, taken action.”
The letter also pointed out that the posting undoubtedly violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act in the state.
Daoud tried to backtrack after being caught, the letter noted, insisting it was a “spur-of-the-moment emotional reaction.”
However, the “fact remains that Daoud was faced with a choice during an emotional moment and chose to threaten violence.”