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StandWithUs Urges Yale to Take Action Against Prof Who Celebrated Oct. 7 Massacre

Letter claims Asst. Prof. Zareena Grewal has a history of posting antisemitic and anti-Israel content
[additional-authors]
December 20, 2023
The Old Campus Courtyard of Yale University. Photo by Ad Meskens under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

StandWithUs sent a letter to Yale University on Tuesday urging the university to take action against a professor who celebrated the October 7 massacre on social media.

The letter, authored by StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein, SWU Saidoff Legal Department Director Yael Lerman and Center for Combating Antisemitism Director Carly Gammill, stated that they are “dismayed” that Yale Associate Professor of American Studies, Ethnicity, Race & Migration and Religious Studies Zareena Grewal “posted a photo of Israel’s southern border being broken into during the attacks and wrote in support of ‘Palestinian Resistance fighters’ who murdered, raped, mutilated and kidnapped Israelis and others on Oct. 7.” Rothstein, Lerman and Gammill added that “Grewal insisted that Hamas had ‘EVERY RIGHT’ to launch their attack because she believes that “Israel is a ‘violent, genocidal, settler state.’”

Some of Grewal’s other posts highlighted by StandWithUs include the associate professor stating on Oct. 7 that “settlers are not civilians” and “retweeting a video about the October 7th attacks with the caption, ‘It’s been such an extraordinary day!’” Additionally, Rothstein, Lerman and Gammill documented multiple instances in which Grewal accused Israel of genocide on social media during and since Oct. 7 as well as Grewal posting as her Facebook cover photo a “defaced” billboard.

Instead of pretending that principles of free speech and academic freedom require it to shield Professor Grewal from accountability, Yale, as a private institution can and should take action here to address the abhorrent and antisemitic rhetoric against this professor.”

“The original billboard had read, ‘Let’s be clear: Hamas is your problem too,’ along with the sponsoring organization’s name below it,” Rothstein, Lerman and Gammill wrote. “On the version posted by Professor Grewal, however, the word ‘Hamas’ had been changed to ‘Zionism’ and the name of the billboard’s sponsor was covered up with, ‘Jews4FreePalestine.’ Similar incidents of vandalism by the same group have been categorized by police as a hate crime.”

They expressed concern that Yale’s response to Grewal’s posts was that her “personal accounts represent her own views.” “Instead of pretending that principles of free speech and academic freedom require it to shield Professor Grewal from accountability, Yale, as a private institution can and should take action here to address the abhorrent and antisemitic rhetoric against this professor,” Rothstein, Lerman and Gammill argued. As examples, Rothstein, Lerman and Gammill pointed to Babson College, Rutgers University and Oberlin College disciplining or firing professors for spreading antisemitism online and noted that Yale itself “has ostracized and penalized professors for expressing views on such things as Supreme Court nominees, yet thus far has stood by Professor Grewal’s blatant bigotry on the grounds that her views on her own.”

The letter called on the university to investigate Grewal and remove her from class during the investigation, and then “impose immediate consequences” if the investigation concludes that Grewal violated university policy. They requested an answer from the university by the end of the month.

The university and Grewal have not responded to the Journal’s requests for comment.

In an October article about Grewal’s social media posts, The Yale Daily News noted that Grewal is tenured and therefore cannot be fired “without direct cause, in the interest of academic freedom.” However, the letter noted that Rutgers had disciplined a tenured professor over “antisemitic rants on his Facebook page.” A petition calling for Grewal to be removed from the Yale faculty has thus far garnered nearly 57,000 signatures.

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