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Uniting Against Rising Antisemitism at USC

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Demand USC to Protect Jewish Professor John Strauss and Rectify the School's Antisemitic Double Standard

Since October 7, USC students and professors have created a hostile environment for Jews on campus, whether through ripping down hostage posters or supporting Hamas's genocidal goals and actions.  

Yet after a Jewish professor, John Strauss, said that Hamas terrorists should be eliminated, he was wrongfully banned from campus for three weeks.

This not only raises concerns about double standards in the application of free speech at USC, but exposes a disturbing pattern of disinformation and targeted harassment against Jews and zionists on our campus.
Professor Strauss interviews with Annenberg Media

Update (12/2/23): 

We are thrilled to share that with the help of this petition, Professor Strauss has officially returned to campus!  Never underestimate the power of MOBILIZATION and ACTION. Your incredible support and solidarity made a difference, and we're deeply grateful.

While we are grateful to the University of Southern California for removing the sanctions placed on Professor Strauss, we remain disappointed that it took this long to correct this egregious wrong.  

Today’s actions by the University represent a step in the right direction, but they are still not enough. Though USC claims that Strauss is not being punished, he is being subjected to a disciplinary process and is still under investigation. We remain committed to our calls for the institution to drop its baseless investigation into Professor Strauss.  

Today was a victory. But the fight against antisemitism on campuses continues. Remember, stay committed to fighting for what's right until justice prevails!

The Petition:

Demand USC to Bring Back Jewish Professor John Strauss & Address Disinformation 

Note: We welcome anyone to sign this petition in support of Professor Strauss.

Dear University of Southern California,

We express our unequivocal support of USC Professor John Strauss, age 72, in light of the unjust call for his termination. 

 

There is a clear double standard when the University takes no action against professors who openly promote the genocidal rhetoric and antisemitic views of a U.S. designated terrorist organization, but disciplines a Jewish professor after saying such terrorists should be eliminated. 

We are deeply troubled by the calculated effort of certain community members to denigrate Professor Strauss’s integrity. 

What Happened on Thursday, November 9, 2023:

A pro-Palestinian demonstration was held at Tommy Trojan. As Professor Strauss walked past the rally, he heard them chanting “Down with Israel” and “From the river to the sea....” In response, Professor Strauss stated, “Israel forever; Hamas are murderers.” He then proceeded to his class.

Later, while passing by the demonstration on his way back to his office from class, individuals initiated an attack on the Jewish professor. They proclaimed: “Shame on you, Professor Strauss.” 

In response, Professor Strauss defends himself: “No, shame on you. You are ignorant. Really ignorant. Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed. And I hope they all are.” (A clear reference to every Hamas terrorists).

 

*Professor Strauss explicitly identified Hamas terrorists as the problem, not Palestinian civilians. There is recorded proof and there were several eyewitnesses. 

The Spread of Misinformation: 

Despite having the full video, 'Trojans For Palestine' decided to release a shorter, deceptive video on Instagram that completely misrepresents what was said.  The video deceptively omits the first half of his statement and only shows Strauss saying: “Should all be killed.” By crucially leaving out the subject of his statement, which Strauss explicitly states is Hamas, allowed for misinformation to be spread. 

Misinformation spread rapidly. Many social media accounts, both influential and regular, reposted the deceptive video. Much of the footage circulating online are laden with text that further distorts his words. For example, @TrojansForPalestine falsely claimed on Instagram that Professor Strauss said, ‘All Palestinians Should Be Killed,’ while influencer @ShaunKing (+5 million followers), posted the deceptive video with the false caption that, “USC Professor John Strauss threatened these students’ hope you get killed, and I hope they all are (*Gaza)’ during a campus rally for Gaza. We call on USC to terminate this professor immediately.” This deceptive post quickly amassed over 3 million views, highlighting the alarming speed at which false claims are being generated and disseminated. 

The ongoing smear campaign against Professor Strauss, coupled with a Change.org petition calling for Strauss' termination has led to an incredibly distressing situation. 

 

Why is the Shortened Video Deceptive?

The deceptive video does not maintain the integrity of the original content, and lacks supporting context, causing misunderstandings. The full video proves that Professor Strauss was calling for the elimination of Hamas. He never called for the death of Palestinian civilians or their supporters. It is incorrect for others to conflate his mention of Hamas with all Palestinians.

In response to these challenges, we are taking proactive measures by providing unedited video footage to share the truth and counter the unwarranted damage to his reputation. As students and alums, we cannot be bystanders to what is going on, and we must raise our voices as they are fueled by worry.

We vehemently reject the characterization of Professor Strauss as malicious. His statements remain consistent with the position articulated by President Biden. Those who may take offense to his comments would only be individuals who support Hamas. They are ignorant at best and antisemitic at worst.

Admission of Falsehood by Student Groups:

Upon uncovering the full video, it was evident that Professor Strauss had articulated a different sentiment. Caught in their lie, ‘Trojans for Palestine’ admitted that Professor Strauss did, in fact, only refer to Hamas. Yet, they doubled down on their ridiculous slander campaign by arguing that Strauss meant to say all Palestinian supporters. They did this in a 24-hour Instagram story. Meanwhile, the deceptively cropped videos continue circulating on social media and going viral.

Annenberg Media’s Article and Journalistic Malpractice: 

The Annenberg Media article, published by Jen Byers, is dangerously biased, violating the very tenets of journalistic standards. By fragmenting the Professor’s quote, the article falsely implies he addressed all Palestinian civilians rather than just Hamas. The article’s subtitle exemplifies this intentional narrative distortion: ‘I hope they all are killed’ walking by an event mourning Palestinian deaths.’ The report’s clear bias and deliberate omission of words and crucial context are a misrepresentation of truth and a troubling display of journalistic malpractice.

The repercussions are stark, with strangers issuing unduly attacks against Professor Strauss. This falsely manufactured outrage inflames the student body, igniting further strife on campus. Meanwhile, Professor Strauss is enduring harassment across multiple platforms, including his email inbox, Rate My Professor, and social media. Examples of threats include: “I hope you die, you fascist pig” to “I hope you’re fired.”

Unjust Administrative Action & Safety Concerns:

Due to the false accusations and manipulated reporting that have fueled calls for his termination, the Office of the Provost put Professor Strauss on administrative leave and barred from campus, citing 'safety concerns.'

 

It prompts question: Is this just an appeasement strategy, giving concessions to the students who are threatening the Professor?

Regardless, we are not in days of the Holocaust; Jews should not have to hide for our safety. Perpetrators of violence and false accusations should be expelled, not the victims of their abuse. USC should offer Professor Strauss proper protection in the coming months.

Impact on the Jewish Community:

The dehumanizing rhetoric and disturbing actions of those who support Hamas have created a hostile environment of fear and anxiety on our campus. Despite the government’s condemnation of rising antisemitism on campus, our peers continue to rip down hostage posters and chant hate speech with brazen arrogance. Professors at USC have expressed venomous antisemitic sentiments without facing any consequences. Students have marched through campus, calling for violence against Jews, and the University has allowed it in the name of free speech.

 

With that backdrop, the forced administrative leave of Professor Strauss, based on a misinterpretation of his statements, contributes to a sense of insecurity. Simply put, Jewish students don’t feel safe.


The Antisemitic Double Standard: Free Speech

To this point, we were concerned about the University’s inaction in the face of a hostile environment for Jewish students. We are doubly concerned by the University’s impulsive action against a Jewish professor based on a false accusation.

 

While Professor Strauss was banned from campus, a USC Annenberg adjunct professor promoted antisemitic views to her class without consequence. This journalism professor publicly endorses Hamas as a 'resistance movement' and refers to the October 7 terrorist attack as a 'supremely defensive act' that 'targeted only Israeli military bases and compounds.' Please click here to read her statements for yourself.

 

There is a clear double standard when the University takes no action against professors who openly promote the genocidal rhetoric and antisemitic views of a U.S. designated terrorist organization, but disciplines a Jewish Professor after saying such terrorists should be eliminated. 

CALL TO ACTION: 

We demand that the University of Southern California promptly reinstate Professor Strauss with adequate protection and conduct a comprehensive review of University policies.

1. Reject Antisemitism:

  • Strongly condemn any form of antisemitism.

  • Advocate for re-evaluating individuals and groups promoting hate speech and/or violence.

  • Review and create a policy to take further action against those who rip down posters of hostages shamelessly.

2. Demand Re-Evaluation:

  • Call for a comprehensive review of the incident by University authorities.

  • Emphasize the importance of considering manipulated evidence and false accusations against Professor Strauss.

  • Demand the immediate reinstatement of Professor Strauss to his regular teaching duties.

3. Ensure Safety and Community Support:

  • Demand appropriate measures to ensure the safety of Professor Strauss and the Jewish Community.

  • Desire greater transparency from the University about events such as these to foster a sense of safety.

4. Examine University Policies and Issue Apology:

  • Demand a re-examination of all University policies regarding suspending professors.

  • Call for a review of policies concerning student-led groups.

  • Kindly request a public apology from the University addressing all of the mischaracterization related to Professor Strauss. Furthermore, the apology should acknowledge the additional stress, fear, and anxiety that has been unjustly caused to him.

  • Emphasize the need for accurate messaging from the University to rectify the damage caused by misinformation.

5. We stand united in urging USC to drop the ongoing investigation of Professor John Strauss immediately.

 

In light of the disturbing incidents and their impact on the USC community, there's an immediate and pressing need for transparency and accountability from: 

 

Carol Folt, Title IX Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX USC Office, and all USC administrators.

The Trojan community, including students, faculty, and alums, is united in its call for USC to take decisive action. This entails thoroughly investigating the events surrounding Professor Strauss and the subsequent disinformation campaign. Clear and transparent communication of the findings and the actions taken is vital to rebuild trust within the USC community. In our standing for integrity and justice, our united voice aims to restore the principles that define our Trojan Community and Family.

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