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Muslim student leader—slated as dorm adviser—threatened to 'physically fight' Zionists at Stanford

A Muslim student at Stanford University — who served on the Undergraduate Senate and is slated to be a residential assistant in a dormitory — threatened in a Facebook post to "physically fight" Zionists on campus before later taking back his words. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A Muslim student at Stanford University — who served on the Undergraduate Senate and is slated to be a residential assistant in a dormitory — threatened in a Facebook post to "physically fight" Zionists on campus before later taking back his words, the Stanford Daily reported.

Hamzeh Daoud wrote in his original post Friday that he will "physically fight zionists on campus next year if someone comes at me with their ‘Israel is a democracy’ bulls**t ... and after I abolish your ass I’ll go ahead and work every day for the rest of my life to abolish your petty ass ethnosupremacist settler-colonial state," the paper said.

Image source: Facebook, redacted

Daoud included a link in his post to a piece from an Israeli news site with the headline, “Jewish nation-state law makes discrimination in Israel constitutional.”

But about four hours later, Daoud altered the phrase “physically fight” by changing the word "physically" to “intellectually,” the Daily reported, noting that he added the following sentence: “I edited this post because I realize intellectually beating zionists is the only way to go. Physical fighting is never an answer to when trying to prove people wrong.”

What did a school official have to say about the post?

University spokesperson E.J. Miranda told the Daily that Stanford is aware of  the post, and that Student Affairs staff members are “following up” on the matter.

“Stanford is committed to free expression of ideas and a culture of inclusion where all members of the university community can feel safe,” Miranda added to the paper.

How did Stanford's College Republicans react?

Stanford's College Republicans demanded the university fire Doud as an RA in a Facebook post of their own Saturday.

"Mr. Daoud’s statements reveal him to be a danger to the safety of students on Stanford’s campus, and such an individual should never be put in any position of authority over other students, particularly in a dormitory that includes freshmen," the post noted, adding that "threatening to assault other students who hold a different point of view is anathema to a free society and any kind of education, let alone the operation of the premier research university in the world."

What else did Daoud have to say?

Daoud — whom the College Republicans said is active in Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine — wrote in an email to the Daily that his post was a “spur-of-the-moment emotional reaction” to the law.

“[The law] effectively made [Israel] an apartheid state and deemed Palestinian citizens of Israel second-class citizens,” Daoud wrote, the paper said. “As a third-generation Palestinian refugee, I was appalled and took to Facebook to share my pain.”

Daoud also told the Daily he doesn't deserve punishment for his comments and that he edited his post out of his own will because he “recognized the threat that people might feel from physical fighting.”

“Having consequences [for] a Muslim, third-generation Palestinian refugee [who] has been constantly called a terrorist by multiple members of SCR, guests of SCR on campus and other students, is rather shameful,” he wrote to the Daily.

He also told the paper he'd leave both posts up, noting “use of the word ‘physical fighting’ was an emotional outburst in a social media platform with no tangible effects, no matter how hard [the College Republicans try] to conflate it.”

On Sunday, Daoud apologized for the original post in a second letter to the Daily: “I apologize if I made anyone feel unsafe,” he wrote, the paper said. “That was not the intent and will never be an intent of mine at all.”

The College Fix said Daoud changed his Facebook settings to private over the weekend.

Daoud sent a longer apology email to the Stanford Jewish community mailing list on Monday, the Daily reported, in which he said he's not sorry about his stance on Israel but is sorry for any pain his original post may have caused within the Jewish community.

“I never intended, and will never intend, to cause any harm to the Jewish community,” Daoud wrote, the paper said. “I respect the Jewish community, the beauty and resilience of the Jewish religion and people, and the power that Jewish students bring to campus.”

What did others have to say?

While Daoud said his views don't reflect those of Students for Justice in Palestine, the Daily reported, SJP President Jordi Arnau defended Daoud in a comment on the College Republicans' post.

"He changed the post before your publication because he found a better way to word his thoughts, but you deliberately ignored his correction to 'intellectually fight' because all you want is for him to get harassed," Arnau wrote. "Did you read the news item that he shared? What do you think that means for Palestinians and in particular those on campus? Maybe after you read it you will feel the uncontainable anger that likely prompted his unfortunate wording."

Jewish Students Association Board member Courtney Cooperman, who writes for the Daily, also defended Daoud.

"I'm disgusted, although unsurprised, by your petty bulls**t," Cooperman wrote in a comment on the College Republicans' post. "Pro-Israel students don't need you picking on and calling out other members of the Stanford community. Please message me if you'd like some ideas for productively advancing the campus conversation on Israel in a way that does not involve slandering my friends."

Majd Maref Arafat added: “Hamzeh promptly saw the error in his actions and language and edited it. You have intentionally neglected his edits which serve to recognize his mistake and denounce violence. Especially as students whose primary goal is to learn, we should not pretend that self-reflection and growth are impossible or irrelevant.”

Another commenter, Chris Cashion, said he's concerned that Daoud will soon be a residential assistant while harboring animosity toward particular people.

“I believe anyone, especially one holding a position of campus authority like Mr. Daoud should be called out when they make physical threats,” Cashion wrote, the paper said. “If I were a Jewish parent and knew my child was in the dorm under Mr. Daoud’s responsibility I would have a hard time trusting that his extreme bias would not undermine his judgment.”

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