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Thursday, September 24, 2020

USC Student Who Launched Impeachment Campaign Against Student VP Says It Wasn’t Prompted by VP’s Zionist Views, Apologizes to Her and Jewish Community

The USC student who launched an impeachment campaign against University Student Government Vice President Rose Ritch stated in an Aug. 6 Instagram post that her call for Ritch to step down had nothing to do with her views as a Zionist.

Ritch announced her resignation in an Aug. 5 statement, saying that she had been bullied for her support for Israel, and that she had had been subjected to “an aggressive social media campaign to ‘impeach [my] Zionist a–.’”

Abeer Tijani, the student who initiated the impeachment complaint against Ritch, said in her post that she had called for Ritch to be impeached because she had remained silent on then-USG President Truman Fritz’s alleged racial remarks. According to Annenberg Media, Fritz is accused of placing “students of color into one category. Fritz was also accused of seeming unconcerned with issues pertaining to Black students and of making students uncomfortable with ‘jokes and the use of certain names.’ ” He resigned on July 7.

“I never called for either Truman’s or Rose’s impeachment/resignations due to their political views or personal identities,” Tijani said. “What I did say — and what I now regret not thinking more carefully about before I said it — was that Rose was ‘outspoken on issues that alienate Palestinian Trojans, and has failed to provide a check on the responsibilities and actions of the President when a voice of reason has been crucially needed.’ I should never have conflated the issues in such a way to suggest that Rose’s ‘support for Israel has made [her] complicit in racism, and that by association, [she is] racist,’ in her words.”

She then issued an apology to Ritch and the Jewish community.

“That was not my intention, and I want to offer my deepest apologies to Rose, and the greater Jewish community, for all the damage to her reputation, mental health, and well-being that resulted from my irresponsible wording,” Tijani said.

Tijani added that she only wanted to ensure that Palestinian voices were heard and that they might have been “difficult” to have an unabashed pro-Israel voice representing them.

“In the context that this has with the BLM [Black Lives Matter] movement, a leader should be able to graciously recognize and attempt to mitigate the ways in which his or her words — or lack of words, in the case of the silence with our student body president — have alienated a demographic of their constituency,” Tijani said. “And it is for that reason alone, and not at all because Rose identifies as a Zionist, that I called for her impeachment or resignation.”

Tijani said she was “heartened” to see Jewish organizations show support for Ritch after her resignation, but wished the university provided proper context for her remarks.

“As I type this, I am being bombarded by messages from friends and strangers notifying me that my name, pictures, and social media accounts have been plastered all over the internet by people painting me as an anti-Semite and a bigot,” she wrote.

The USC senior later added that “it simultaneously saddens and angers me that people could even entertain the idea that I sought to raise up Black students at the expense of any other group.” She also said, “There is no reason why anti-anti-Semitism and anti-racism movements cannot coexist and support one another, for we are all fighting the same evils.”

 

The Daily Trojan had reported that Tijani had said in a June 27 Instagram post days after launching a petition calling for Fritz and Ritch either to be impeached or resign clarifying that being pro-Israel isn’t an impeachable offense and that to put the blame on Ritch for the Israeli government’s transgressions is anti-Semitic. She also said that her call for Ritch’s impeachment or resignation was based only on Ritch’s silence regarding Fritz’s alleged racial remarks, but added that Palestinian voices needed to be heard and “ that is greater than Rose and her personal affiliations.”

On July 7, the Louis Brandeis Center sent a letter to USC President Carol Folt and Vice President of Student Affairs Winston B. Crisp, highlighting some of the comments Ritch received on social media at the time. One comment stated, “[Fritz] and the [Z]ionist need to be impeached!” Another said Ritch “is a Zionist who indoctrinated the rest of USG to be Zionists” and another said that Ritch needed to be impeached because she has worked with AIPAC. None of the comments highlighted in the Brandeis Center’s letter were attributed to Tijani.

Folt sent a letter to the USC community on Aug. 6 calling Ritch’s resignation letter “heartbreaking.”

“As president of USC, I believe it is critically important to state explicitly and unequivocally that anti-Semitism in all of its forms is a profound betrayal of our principles and has no place at the university,” Folt wrote. “We must condemn any bias or prejudice that is based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristic. What happened to Rose Ritch is unacceptable, and we must all take up her challenge to do better.”

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