Stanford junior Hamzeh Daoud announced on Friday that he had resigned from his position as a resident assistant in the college dorms after receiving death threats and being investigated for a Facebook post criticizing the political ideology of Zionism in the wake of Israel’s discriminatory new “basic law.”
“I will be stepping down from my job as Resident Assistant at Stanford University to focus my attentions on my studies and on processing the repercussions of my post,” Daoud wrote.
On July 19, 2018, the Israeli legislature passed a discriminatory new “basic law” privileging Jewish citizens over its indigenous Palestinian minority. On July 20, Hamzeh Daoud, a rising junior and grandson of Palestinian refugees, posted an article about the law on his Facebook page, adding, “im gonna physically fight zionists on campus next year if someone comes at me with their “israel is a democracy” bullshit. : ) . . . .”
Daoud used the phrase “physically fight” ironically, as it is often used in social media by millennials, to underscore the strength of his opinion without any thought of an actual physical fight. Just three hours later—and before he learned of any backlash—Daoud edited the post to remove the phrase and avoid any potential misunderstandings. Valuing transparency and openness, Dauod did not try to hide the fact that he had edited the post, and instead added an explanation:
I edited this post because i realize intellectually beating zionists is the only way to go. Physical fighting is never an answer to or when trying to prove people wrong. Radical love. And a whole lot of smarts! Facts will get you hella far
The next day, Stanford College Republicans, a group whose members have a history of smear campaigns against professors and students they disagree with, published a Facebook post disingenuously describing Daoud’s comments as a “threat of violence.” Though over 24 hours had passed since Daoud edited the post to clarify what he meant, the Stanford College Republicans omitted any reference to the edits, posting a screenshot of the earlier version with no link to the post, which was at the time still publicly available. Other Stanford students quickly came to Daoud’s defense, including a staunch supporter of Israel. The story was however spread around alt right blogs and media outlets, including the blog of “one of America’s most prolific and vociferous anti-Muslim propagandists,” Robert Spencer.
While early posts claimed concern about the safety of students on campus, more recent attacks chronicling Daoud’s past criticism of Israel have made it clear that the campaign against Daoud is motivated largely by his views and his identity as a Palestinian Muslim.
Since making the post, Daoud has received a barrage of harassing messages, threatening to shoot him, beat him up, and have him deported, some making reference to groups with a history of violence, including the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and the right-wing terrorist organization Jewish Defense League. He received direct messages with threats like “We are gonna come for you” and “Do you feel safe. … We are everywhere.”
Paid Facebook ads and an Israeli government propaganda app told users to contact the university and demand that he be expelled and fired from his on-campus job. A lawyer threatened to sue Stanford. An Israel advocacy group filled a baseless criminal complaint with local prosecutors.
As Palestine Legal explained in a letter to the university, California law makes it illegal for Stanford to discipline Daoud for his Facebook post. However, in the face of overwhelming pressure and harassment, Daoud has decided to resign his position.
“The campaign against Hamzeh is really problematic,” said Zoha Khalili, a staff attorney at Palestine Legal. “He’s essentially being made to apologize for being Palestinian. The whole thing has been deeply traumatizing to someone who already carries trans-generational trauma.”
Read about his decision in his statement here.