On July 20, Hamzeh Daoud publicly expressed his intent to “physically fight” defenders of Israel on campus in a Facebook post (emphasis added). While in the following hours the post was amended, it was only after outrage and alarm had already spread throughout much of the pro-Israel community at Stanford.
Stanford College Republicans has good reason to take Mr. Daoud’s statement seriously. Hundreds of protesters, including Mr. Daoud, attempted to block fellow students from hearing from various speakers on campus, including our own. Antifa (an ostensibly ‘anti-fascist’ organization notorious for inciting violent altercations with conservative speakers and their supporters) has even shown up to one of our events, and we contend that one of its members assaulted one of our members during their visit.
Several of our members are Jewish, and many more have spoken out in White Plaza this spring in defense of Israel as a democracy with a right to exist, the very sentiment that Mr. Daoud threatened to punish violently. Harassment and unfair treatment are bad enough; we will not tolerate threats to our safety.
Defenders of Mr. Daoud have cited recent legislation in Israel reaffirming its status as a Jewish nation-state as a mitigating factor in his outburst. It is not. The NKVD, KKK and Gestapo were all quite passionate in their violent silencing of opposition, yet their actions were unconscionable. His status as a “third generation Palestinian refugee”(the idea that one is still a refugee generations after resettlement seems dubious to us) doesn’t excuse calling for violence against anyone.
We do not wish to deny Mr. Daoud his right to publicly criticize Israel. We disagree with what he has to say but would defend to the death his right to say it. In a civil discourse, we could even hope for a productive conversation on the issue, as our members have had with many students who are critical of Israel. For Mr. Daoud’s part, he has previously engaged in such discourse by moderating discussion with campus speaker Aarab Barghouti, son of convicted anti-Semitic terrorist Marwan Barghouti.
However, any threat of battery is a gross violation of the Fundamental Standard and is intolerable. Stanford hires its RAs selectively, and such a lapse of judgment is reasonable justification for terminating his employment in a position that involves supporting and having authority over fellow students in Norcliffe.
While Mr. Daoud may regret his statement, we cannot know to what extent these edits were made solely to evade responsibility for his actions. Apologizing for wrongdoing does not absolve one of responsibility.
Finally, we would like to correct some misconceptions propagated in Emily Wilder’s defense of Mr. Daoud’s actions. First of all, we never did “slander [him] with baseless claims of terrorist affiliation”; rather, we noted that an organization of which he is a part, Students for Justice in Palestine, has financial links to the affiliates of the terrorist organization Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Second, we did not “invite guest speakers who subject them to death threats and harassment” at all; in fact, one of our speakers personally invited Mr. Daoud to engage in dialogue with him, and no one connected to our organization has said anything to him other than debate or invitation to dialogue.
Michael Whittaker, Activism Director of the Stanford College Republicans (contact at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Philip Eykamp II, Vice President of the Stanford College Republicans (contact at email@example.com)
Note: Michael Whittaker is a Contributing Writer to the Daily; the opinions expressed here are his own.