Jewish professor suspended for saying ‘Hamas should be killed’

John Strauss, professor of economics at the University of Southern California, confronted anti-Israel protesters on campus


The University of Southern California has suspended a Jewish professor after he told anti-Israel protesters that “Hamas should be killed”.

John Strauss, professor of economics, confronted demonstrators on campus after hearing them call for the destruction of Israel.

He shouted: “Hamas are murderers. That's all they are. Everyone should be killed, and I hope they are killed.”

However, an edited version of what he said was shared on social media that implied he was calling for the death of all Palestinians. The video showed him saying “everyone should be killed, and I hope they are killed”.

Activist groups - including the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the campus's Muslim Student Union - demanded action be taken against him. A petition calling for him to be fired was signed by 7,000 people.

The university placed Strauss on leave and initially barred him from campus. However, he was later allowed to continue teaching classes remotely.

Professor Strauss said: “The allegation was that I said ‘Kill all Palestinians’. I never said that and I never would say that. I said ‘Kill all Hamas’. That's quite different.”

A petition calling for the University of Southern California to reinstate Professor Strauss has amassed more than 15,000 signatures.

It reads: “The recent events around his [Prof. Strauss’] forced administrative leave, barring him from campus, have not only raised serious questions about double standards in the application of free speech principles at USC but have exposed the disturbing pattern of misinformation and targeted harassment that continues to take place on our campus.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression called on the university to end its investigation into Professor Strauss.

“The fact that some protesters characterized Strauss's comments as ‘hate speech’ or even threatening to students, does not deprive them of protection under USC’s policies.

“The standards for punishing speech as a true threat or harassment are high, and Strauss's remarks to a group of protesters fall far short.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive