The University of Southern California has exiled a Jewish economics professor after he suggested to student activists that Hamas terrorists should be wiped out. Professor John Strauss, an esteemed and tenured professor at USC, must now teach his classes remotely for the remainder of the semester.
What’s the background?
Strauss, 72, shared words in passing with a group of students involved in a Nov. 9 protest organized by the USC Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, USC Graduates for Palestine, and Trojans for Palestine,
reported the College Fix.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the protest was part of a national “Shut It Down for Palestine” action and included a rally where students chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — widely regarded as a call for Israel’s ruination.
Footage shows Strauss, audibly identified by students in the mob, mutter, “People are ignorant.”
One activist halts the professor with the claim that they are gathered to “pay respect for those who were killed.”
As more activists begin to amble over to Strauss, the professor states, “Hamas are murderers, that’s all they are.”
Still referencing the terrorist group that slaughtered thousands of Israeli civilians and dozens of Americans on Oct. 7, Strauss adds, “Every one should be killed and I hope they all are.”
The professor later defended his comments,
telling USC Annenberg Media, “One of them, a woman, I don’t know who, yelled out, ‘Shame on you, Professor Strauss. Shame on you.’ And I immediately yelled back, ‘No, shame on you. You were ignorant about Hamas. Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. They should all die. Every one of them.'”
told another student outlet, the Daily Trojan, “I don’t mind if they want to memorialize people who were killed. That’s fine, just as Jewish students are memorializing Israelis who were killed.”
“But this started as a result of Hamas terrorist attacks,” he added.
Lies and petitions
Various anti-Israeli student groups at the university as well as activists off campus — including the scandal-plagued identitarian Shaun King — circulated a deceptively edited version of the video along with insinuations that Strauss had called for Palestinians to be killed beyond just the members of the murderous group recognized by the American government as a terrorist organization.
A viral post on X that pushed the edited video
stated, “Here is @USC professor John Strauss saying ‘every one of them should be killed, and I hope they all are’ while passing by students who organised a memorial for 10,000+ Palestinian martyrs killed in the past month.”
Canary Mission, a watchdog group that documents anti-Semitism in academic institutions,
noted that the individual who appears to have spread the video in this first instance, Tara Alami, is a radical leftist at McGill Univeristy in Montreal who has “called for Israelis to die, celebrated the death of Israelis, expressed support for terrorists and promoted a violent hatred of Zionists.”
The USC Graduates for Palestine similarly also posted a
deceptively edited version of the video on Nov. 10 to their Instagram account, intimating that Strauss had called for “everyone to be killed,” again with the suggestion that he meant all Palestinians.
Leftists on campus seized upon this false narrative to paint Strauss as a villain.
Coinciding with the circulation of the deceptively edited videos, campus activists started a
petition demanding Strauss’ termination “for racist and xenophobic behavior.” The petition, which has received over 7,100 signatures, decontextualized the professor’s remarks, suggesting they were “not only offensive but also promote and incite violence.”
The Los Angeles Times
reported that Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles, demanded that the university investigate Strauss and take steps to protect “Muslim, Palestinian and Arab students as well as any others who are targeted by hate and bigotry.”
Hamas critic in exile
Within a day of the incident, Strauss was told by an associate dean he had been placed on administrative leave, exiled from campus, and altogether relieved of teaching duties, reported the Times.
A spokesman for the university noted days later the professor would instead be teaching his graduate and undergraduate classes remotely for the remainder of the semester.
USC provost Andrew Guzman indicated in a Nov. 13 letter to Strauss, obtained by the Daily Trojan, that following “multiple formal complaints” filed against him with the school’s office for equity, equal opportunity, and Title IX, he would be barred from campus until further notice.
The letter stressed that the “interim measures” were not punitive in nature but rather were “designed to minimize disruption to the educational environment and to ensure a safe environment for both [Strauss] and [his] students.”
Strauss indicated he wants the university to let him back onto campus and to issue “a factual statement of what I did not say.”
petition demanding that the administration bring Strauss back to campus, which has already received nearly 12,000 signatures, stated, “Jewish people have not come this far by hiding in fear. Perpetrators of violence and false accusations must be removed, not their victims.”
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