The district attorney’s office in Houston, Texas, in cooperation with the Houston police, is currently trying to determine if antisemitic comments that were posted to Twitter, by thirteen past and current students at the University of Houston (UH), constitutes a hate crime.
The Canary Mission, an anonymous online antisemitic watchdog, collected all of the tweets in their report, Kill All The Jews. Members of the UH chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), and students associated with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS), along with unaffiliated individuals, were responsible for the posts, which go back as far as 2012.
Of paramount concern are tweets by UH students that both incite violence and promote violence against Jews:
“I am gonna throw rocks at yahood [Jews] this summer and no one is stopping me.” – Tarek Abdoh, April, 2015
“Yall don’t understand I want to beat a zionist bitch up so bad.” – Noor Radwan, July, 2016
“Hitler should have killed them [the Jews] all” – Amal Tabal, November, 2012
“If you could press one button to kill all zionists, but it would also kill every Jew out there, would you press it? – Noor Radwam, October, 2015
“Palestine will be the 2nd Holocaust for the Yahood [Jews].” – Rawen Saleh, March, 2013
“I mean it when I say I wish Hitler finished them off in the holocaust. I know there’s a difference between Jews and Zionists.” – Mahmoud Eissa, July, 2014
“@HitlerDictator Versace. Versace. [Italian fashion designer] F**k bitches bake Jews that’s the life of a Nazi” – Zain Dharani, August, 2013
As was to be expected, the report included a tweet that put forth a classic blood libel. In November, Noor Radwan tweeted: “A Jewish rabbi has admitted to using human child meat as a filler in McDonalds meat. They allegedly drug teens, and kill them for their meat, THE TRUTH ABOUT MCDONALD’S & MISSING CHILDREN.”
When a UH student can actually present such an outrageous blood libel as a fact, then, Houston, you’ve got a problem.
No one would agree more than Kenneth L. Marcus, president and general counsel for the Washington D.C. based Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, According to Marcus: “Whether the university can punish the speech or not, they have an obligation to address the underlying problem”. Marcus told the Jewish-Herald: “The legal restrictions might tell them [the University of Houston] how they can deal with it, but the fact is they need to deal with it and they need [to] deal with it firmly.”
Although the tweets are currently under review by the Dean of the Student’s Office, it is troubling that tweets that promote violence and bigotry are not automatically in violation of the UH Code of Conduct.
A tweet by Mamoon Hindi in August, 2015 is a typical example:”It’s not music you f****ing fag. Candyass Brit, fish n’ chips motherf****ker. Zionist f***k face douchebag.”
Obviously, it is no surprise that Hitler is the star of so many of the tweets: “Hitler mah n***ga”;”Hitler said he left some Jews alive so the world would know why he killed em”; “Hitler died too soon, really”.
Lee Wunsch, of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston (JFGH), told The Algemeiner that celebrating the mass murder of Jews with “violent tweets”, the calls for a Third Intifada–murdering Jews as “resistance” against Israel–praise for both Hitler and Hamas terrorists, whose goal is the wholesale slaughter of Israeli Jews–had the organization’s “full attention”.
When the Canary Mission report was released to the public, Rabbi Kenny Weiss, executive director of Houston Hillel, told the Jewish-Herald: “Houston Hillel takes very seriously any inflammatory comments directed at Jews”. As a result, Rabbi Weiss contacted both the UH campus police, the greater Houston police department, the UH Office of Legal Affairs, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Houston office of the Jewish Federation.
Dayan Gross, the ADL Southwest Regional Director told The Algemeiner: “While ADL respects freedom of speech, we reserve the right to make sure people see hateful speech for what it is and counter it”. Gross, who filed a complaint with the Houston police, is closely monitoring the situation.
The UH Legal Affairs office told the Jewish-Herald that “we take any matter involving the safety and welfare of our university community very seriously”. The vice-chancellor of Legal Affairs, Dona Hamilton Cornell, stated: “UH is safe for all students, Jews included.”
However, UH Jewish students have criticized the administration for failing to condemn the students who threatened the personal safety of Jews.
It is a given that if hateful tweets had targeted UH African-American students and the posts had: a) promoted lynchings and physical assaults against blacks b) celebrated the KKK and slavery, instead of Hitler and the Holocaust, and c) used vile language like, “F***ing N***er”, rather than “Zionist c**t”, then, without question, a national media firestorm would have been ignited. And the University of Houston would have told the press that such toxic behavior will be met with swift punishment.
But when the tweets, in question, called for the beating and stoning of Jews, the University of Houston would only call the tweets, “repugnant” speech.
“I want my university to show that it legitimately cares about its diverse population and not just certain student groups,” Tatiana Uklist, the founder of the UH chapter of Students Supporting Israel, told the Jewish-Herald.
However, vice-chancellor Cornell feels that the university has created a level playing field because it fosters an environment where diverse beliefs are “welcomed”.
And that means welcoming the beliefs of a Palestinian woman named Rasmea Yousef Odeh, who just happens to be a terrorist who was convicted of murdering Jews.
Despite vigorous protest from Jewish students, administrators allowed the UH chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, which, according to Kenneth L. Marcus, is “a hate organization and must be addressed as such”, to hold a spring fundraiser in Odeh’s honor.
UH dismissed complaints from Jewish students that the fundraiser was a safety threat. Instead the administration called it a “speech-related political disagreement”. Odeh was imprisoned in Israel for murdering two Jewish college students, from Hebrew University, in a 1969 supermarket bomb attack in Jerusalem.
Odeh, who came to America, after being released by Israel in a prisoner exchange, is facing deportation due to immigration fraud.
It would, of course, be unthinkable for any college campus in the United States of America to hold a fundraiser for Dylann Roof, who murdered nine African-Americans, while they prayed in a South Carolina church on June 17, 2015.
And it is precisely because the University of Houston has whitewashed the issues surrounding violence and Jews, that many Jewish students now feel that they are subject to a dangerous double standard, which puts them at risk.
But whether or not the Houston District Attorney’s office ultimately labels the tweets an actual hate crime or a non-criminal hate incident is really a moot point. Because labelling the tweets doesn’t alter the original intent of the UH tweets: the demonization and outright hatred of Jews.