USC Professor Suspended for Speaking Out Against Hamas

( – A professor at the University of Southern California (USC) was suspended and then banned from the school campus after backlash over remarks made by the professor about the militant Islamic Palestinian group Hamas.

A report from the Los Angeles Times states that a Jewish professor, John Strauss, walked by a pro-Palestinian protest on the USC campus and told the crowd of demonstrators he believed “Hamas are murderers” and that the terrorist group should be wiped out. The exchange was captured on camera by protesters and posted online.

During the Nov. 9 exchange, the 72-year-old professor told protesters that every member of Hamas “should be killed” and that he hopes “they all are killed.” One student recording the incident asked Strauss to repeat what he said “for the camera.” The video went viral, which soon resulted in a petition accusing the professor of racism and xenophobia, and of attempting to incite violence. Nine-thousand people signed it.

Another petition calling for USC to fire Strauss gathered over 6,500 signatures in a week. A counter-petition emerged shortly after that pulled in 9,000 signatures in support of Strauss, arguing the treatment of the professor was “unfair” and demanding his reinstatement.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the university to investigate Strauss and to make efforts to protect students who are “Muslim, Palestinian, and Arab” from “hate and bigotry.” The Muslim Student Union also commented on the incident and accused Strauss of “calling for the murder of the entirety of Palestine.” The student group claims his remarks are “beyond the boundaries of academic discourse” and “dangerously incite violence” by contributing “to a hostile campus atmosphere.”

Defenders of Strauss have called out the absurdity of reprimanding the professor so harshly simply for speaking against a terrorist organization, and say the professor’s remarks were misinterpreted. Such situations are also raising questions about the First Amendment and whether or not the university is in violation of Strauss’ free speech rights by punishing him.

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