Universities and faculty across the country have pledged their allegiance to Palestine and Hamas, with student groups, professors, and administrators releasing statements in support of Hamas and coordinating anti-Israel protests. The University of California, Davis is the latest.
On Oct. 18, various faculty hosted an “emergency teach in” at the university, purportedly in support of “justice in Palestine.” In other words, the purpose was to prompt students to filter the Hamas attack through a pro-Palestine lens. The tone and results of the teach-in were predictable: Educators and students are blaming Israel.
During the teach-in — which was sponsored by various departments at UC Davis, including the UC Davis Students for Justice in Palestine club and the student-led organization known as Cops off Campus — speakers endlessly labeled Israel as racist, genocidal, oppressive, and even antisemitic. Mass pro-Palestine, anti-Israel protests broke out on campus the next day.
The teach-in and protests followed a post on X, formerly Twitter, from UC Davis assistant professor Jemma Decristo, who threatened “zionist journalists,” saying “they have houses w addresses, kids in school[,] they can fear their bosses, but they can fear us more.” The post ended with a knife emoji, axe emoji, and blood-drop emojis. The tweet has since been deleted.
UC Davis Chancellor Gary May issued a statement condemning the tweets, calling them “revolting in every way,” and “[disagreeing] wholeheartedly with them.”
“UC Davis rejects all forms of violence and discrimination, as they are antithetical to the values of our university,” May said. “We strive to foster a climate of equity and justice built on mutual understanding and respect for all members of the community.”
This Oct. 10 post was not addressed nor condemned by faculty or attendees at the teach-in, which featured professors Joshua Clover, Natalia Deeb-Sossa, Mjriam Abu Samara, and Sunaina Maira. The event was moderated by Ph.D. candidate Beshara Kehdi.
The pro-Palestine professors did address Hamas, but not to condemn the terrorist group. Kehdi called the attack on Oct. 7 “an action taken by Hamas to, sort of, capture Israelis, with the idea of freeing the land.” These comments are reminiscent of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s characterization of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as “some people did something.”
Kehdi also upheld the fake news story that Israel carried out an airstrike on a Gaza hospital and killed more than 500 civilians. At the time of the teach-in, the false story had already been debunked. In parroting terrorist propaganda, the corporate media got every detail wrong. In reality, Hamas’ own misfired rocket landed in a parking lot outside the hospital, causing far fewer casualties than originally reported.
Kehdi’s anti-Israel and pro-Palestine views aren’t new. Last November, Kehdi made a post on his public Instagram saying that “any UAW leader who takes a stand against Palestinian freedom needs to be publicly and privately shamed.”
In a 2021 post, Kehdi addressed “every authority figure who abuses their power” as “inconsiderate, mean, elitist, conservative, half-wits with reactionary politics.” The post excused “shutting down racists, sexists, homophobes, zionists, imperialists, etc.”
“Half of my family is Central European Jews, some of whom escaped the holocaust, and some of whom did not,” Clover said. “And because of this, I wish to begin by affirming that we must condemn antisemitism.”
In the same breath, however, Clover called accusations of antisemitism a “delegitim[iz]ation strategy” and attacked Israel and its supporters.
“The Zionist enterprise was by far the most powerful and insistent force for antisemitism on the planet. From the Israeli state to the ADL to Canary Mission, one vitriolic and massive antisemitic project after another, each of which must be condemned.”
“There is historical and political asymmetry that we are ethically obligated not to efface. But you may ask, ‘Joshua, are you therefore condoning Hamas?'” said Clover, followed by murmurs and laughs in the room. “Strange to say, no one requires of this of me. … I will condemn Hamas when Zionists condemn the entire Israeli state. Until then, I have only solidarity for the oppressed, and that is what is pressing before us today.”
According to The California Aggie, Clover once tweeted that he was “thankful that every living cop will one day be dead, some by their own hand, some by others, too many of old age,” and said in an interview, “People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed.”
The UC Davis administration released a statement condemning Clover’s anti-police statements but said the comments “although offensive and abhorrent, do not meet the legal requirement for ‘true threats’ that might exempt them from First Amendment protection.” In March 2019, California State Rep. James Gallagher obtained at least 10,000 signatures on a petition calling for Clover to be fired. Clover remains an outspoken professor at UC Davis.
Maira, after engaging in a performative land acknowledgment, read a letter from the Aida Refugee Camp, which addressed the question: “Do you condemn Palestinian terrorism? Do you condemn Hamas?”
“So let’s deal with that,” Maira said. “I do condemn myself. I condemn my existence.”
Rhetoric from these professors and panelists empowered hundreds of students to protest the following day, with many concealing their identities. Their chants included, “We don’t want no two state, we want all of 48,” “The people are occupied, resistance is justified,” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” insinuating Israel deserved the attacks coordinated by Hamas terrorists.
Other chants included, “Israel, Israel, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” “Allahu Akbar,” and “Intifada, intifada, long live the intifada,” referring to the violence Palestinians inflicted on Israel in 1987.
The anti-Israel campus culture at UC Davis blames Jewish victims for genocide and racism, and the message to Jewish students is loud and clear: You are not welcome here.