December 9, 2018

Stanford Student Who Threatened to ‘Physically Fight’ Zionists Steps Down from RA Position

Hamzeh Daoud, the third-year Stanford student who threatened to “physically fight” Zionists in a Facebook post, announced that he would be stepping down from his position as Resident Assistant (RA) to a Stanford dormitory in the fall.

In an August 3 op-ed in The Stanford Daily, Daoud described himself as “a third-generation Palestinian refugee” and called his Facebook post “an emotion filled moment” in response to the recently passed nation-state law.

“After spending a few hours away from Facebook, I read over my post again and realized how infused it was with the same hatred that has caused my own family so much suffering,” Daoud wrote. “It was the antithesis of why I chose this path in life. A sloppy comment made during an emotion-filled reaction to yet another layer of trauma, the comment did not convey my values, who I am currently, or who I hope to become.”

Daoud went onto explain that he later revised his post to read “intellectually fight Zionists on campuses” while acknowledging that he had originally written “physically fight” because he didn’t want to “be misrepresented and misunderstand.”

“Although I was accused of horrible things and began to receive graphic death threats and messages filled with Islamophobia and xenophobia, I acknowledge the language in my first post had a strong negative effect on many in our Stanford community,” Daoud wrote. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart to everyone who was triggered by it. I recognize that I was projecting my own trauma onto others in a way that is never acceptable.”

Daoud added that he would begin undergoing “trauma-based therapy” at the university so he cann better manage his emotions.

“I am hopeful that I can continue to grow and become a person I can be proud of; someone whose actions aligns with their values,” Daoud wrote. “I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped me through this, including the Stanford administration.”

He then concluded his op-ed by announcing his resignation as a Stanford RA so he “can focus on my studies and on processing the repercussions of my post.”

In an August 3 statement, Stanford University said on their website that they determined that Daoud “does not pose a physical threat to other members of the community.”

“At the time of the original Facebook posting, the author rapidly amended it to make clear that he does not support physical violence, and he apologized for the original post in a letter to members of the Jewish community at Stanford,” the statement read. “In addition, in a new statement he has made, the student acknowledges the adverse effects this episode has had in our community. His decision to step down as an RA puts the interests of the broader community first.”

However, some Jewish groups think that Stanford needs to do more to address the issue.

“It is important that Stanford rightly recognizes that ‘threats of physical violence have absolutely no place in the Stanford community’ and commits to meeting with affected students to find ways to address issues of intolerance and create a safe learning environment for all,” Anti-Defamation League Central Pacific Regional Director Seth Brysk said in a statement. “This incident requires proactive measures by the Stanford administration to enforce established community norms and expectations as enumerated in the university’s Fundamental Standard. Jewish students must feel safe on campus, and threats of physical violence against Jews, or anyone, cannot be tolerated.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement sent to the Journal that even though Daoud has stepped down from his RA positions, “the issue for the Jewish community is not closed.”

“So-called ‘activists’ like him act with impunity against Jewish students and other supporters of Israel at many major universities,” Cooper said. “The reaction of the Administrations are tepid or non-existent.  People like Hamzeh Daoud and the groups they are involved must be held fully culpable for such bullying, hate and intimidation. We will continue to pursue this goal with Stanford and other schools as well as push for the passage of the Anti-Semitism Act in Congress that would pave the way for the US Department of education to protect Jewish students from such campaigns.”

Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein said in a statement sent to the Journal:

“We  are  proud  of  how  the  Jewish community  came  together  to  make  clear  that  these blatant threats are  absolutely  unacceptable.  When  we  are  united,  we  can  stop  discrimination.

“There  is  no  world  in  which  a  student  who threatens other students should  be  in  position  of  authority  on  campus.  Even though the student at issue  resigned  from  his  position,  Stanford  is still in a position to take disciplinary action.  Further, we hope the DA’s office will look into whether there was a violation of the California criminal code which specifically outlaws the making of willful threats to harm another. This is a necessary step to prevent this kind of behavior from being repeated.

“For  too  long,  Jewish  students  have  faced  bigotry  and  discrimination  under  the  guise  of  anti-Zionism.  There  is  no  excuse  for  this.  Our  community  must  continue  to  work  together  to  ensure  that  pro-Israel  and  Jewish  students  are  not  victimized  on  college  campuses.”