The Jewish USC professor, who was disciplined over Hamas comments, returns to campus

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

The Jewish USC professor, who was disciplined over Hamas comments, returns to campus

California Politics

Taryn Luna

Dec. 2, 2023

USC professor John Strauss, who was placed on administrative leave last month, will be allowed to return to campus while the university continues its investigation into his comments about Hamas during a student protest, his attorney said.

Students captured his November 9 comments on video and the episode went viral on the Internet. More than 7,000 people signed an online petition calling on USC to terminate Straus


while almost 21,000 people signed a petition from opponents to reinstate the Jewish professor.

The incident and the viral uproar that followed became a flashpoint for the clash between Israel’s supporters and Israel


in American academia. The response underlines the challenge facing universities across the country as they try to settle arguments over the war between Israel and Hamas on campus, raising questions about limits on freedom of expression.

Strauss, an economics professor, encountered students organizing a strike and protest calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The students held a commemoration for Palestine


s killed in the war between Israel and Hamas. He claimed to have heard slogans, such as “destroy Israel,” that students later argued about.

Speaking to the protesters, Strauss said they were ignorant before going a step further.

Hamas are murderers,” the 72-year-old professor told the students. “That’s all they are. Everyone should be killed, and I hope they all are killed.

The video, versions of which were doctored online to remove the reference to Hamas, instead suggested he hoped all Palestinians would be killed, prompting a swift response from the university.

Strauss was placed on paid administrative leave and banned from campus


and will no longer be allowed to teach his undergraduate classes this semester. He was allowed to continue teaching graduate-level students via Zoom classes. A few days later, the university lifted some of the restrictions and also allowed him to resume undergraduate classes online.

His attorney, Samantha Harris, said USC told Strauss this week that he would be allowed to return to campus

Saturday. Dec. 2.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Harris said in a statement. “But he remains under investigation and faces possible discipline for his speech, which is both a violation of USC’s own free speech promises and an outrageous, viewpoint-discriminatory double standard when it comes to the way USC enforces its policies.”

USC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Staff writer Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles