Univ. of Penn Must End Its Antisemitic Double-Standard: Cancel Jew-Hating, Israel-Bashing, Jew-Killing-Promoting Event
News Press Release
September 20, 2023

In response to UPenn hosting the upcoming Jew-hating, Israel-bashing, Jew-killing-promoting “Palestine Writes” conference, featuring a convicted terrorist, terror-supporters, and some of the biggest antisemites and in the world, University of Pennsylvania’s President Elizabeth McGill, Provost John Jackson Jr. and Dean of Arts and Sciences Steve Fluharty refused to end UPenn’s support for this conference that endangers Jewish students; and refused to even CONDEMN this conference and its murderous speakers by NAME. Instead, UPenn’s leadership self-righteously proclaimed: we fiercely support the free exchange of ideas as central for our educational mission. This includes the expression of views that are controversial and even those that are incompatible with our institutional values.”

Really? In fact, UPenn’s “fierce support” for free expression is very selective: UPenn apparently embraces free expression for anti-Jewish terrorists and those who accuse Jews and Israel of heinous blood libels and call for anti-Jewish violence and Intifadas (deadly terror wars against Jews).

But free expression of controversial views is not guaranteed for others at UPenn who express non-violent, and hence less dangerous “views that are controversial and incompatible with our institutional values,” such as Professor Robert Mundheim of law at UPenn Law School, Professor Dr. Amy Wax, M.D., J.D. (Note that ZOA is not saying that ZOA agrees with Professor Wax’s views.)

Indeed, The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) named University of Pennsylvania one of the “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2023.”

Professor Wax’s controversial statements resulted in UPenn taking actions against her – never mind UPenn’s supposed “fierce support for the free exchange of ideas as central to [UPenn’s] educational mission.” UPenn should surely, at a minimum, be taking the same actions against the terror-soaked “Palestine Writes” conference:

Necessary Prophylactic Removal: In a 2017 interview off campus on the Glenn Loury show, Professor Wax said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely in the top half.” Law School Dean Theodore Ruger’s July 23, 2022 twelve-page report initiating processes for further sanctions against Prof. Wax explained that: “Wax’s conduct [the above comments] necessitated prophylactic policy removing her from teaching required courses [in 2018].”

So why isn’t UPenn likewise doing far-more-“necessary prophylactic removals” of the terrorists, terror supporters, inciters of murdering Jews, and vile antisemites at the “Palestine Writes” hate-fest? Why isn’t UPenn likewise doing the very “necessary prophylactic removal” of the bigoted event itself that is going to spew anti-Jewish bile and incitement this coming Yom Kippur weekend?

Investigations and Further Sanctions: In January 2022, in a letter exchange on Glenn Loury’s website, Prof. Wax wrote another controversial statement “In my opinion, the Democratic Party is a pernicious influence and force in our country today. . . . I confess I find Asian support for these policies mystifying, as I fail to see how they are in Asians’ interest. . . . But as long as most Asians support Democrats and help to advance their positions, I think the United States is better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.”

In response, U Penn hired the Quinn Emanuel Law firm (which has a blended lawyer rate of $1,033 per hour) to do an extensive investigation, including interviewing students, alumni and faculty. The interviewees reported that Prof. Wax’s comments made them feel that they were “not good enough” or marginalized, etc. UPenn Law School also previously hired the former Dean of the Northwestern University Law School, Daniel Rodriguez, to investigate Professor Wax. In addition, UPenn Law School Dean Ted Ruger issued his 12-page report to initiate further sanctions against Prof. Wax.

So why isn’t UPenn likewise hiring major law firms to investigate the supporters, departments involved, organizers and speakers at “Palestine Writes” – especially when this hate-fest is making Jewish students fearful of going to synagogue or even revealing their Jewish identity? Why isn’t UPenn initiating sanctions against the departments and supporters of the “Palestine Writes” hate-fest?

UPenn’s antisemitic double-standard is mind-boggling, hypocritical and frightening.

Penn’s harassment, discrimination, hostility, group defamation and falsehood exceptions to free speech: Notably, Dean Ruger’s report initiating sanctions against Prof. Wax justifies its departure from UPenn’s supposed commitment to free expression and Prof. Wax’s rights as a tenured professor on the basis that: (a) students are entitled to be treated without “harassment and discrimination” and (b) that free expression “accompanies a correlative responsibility to adhere carefully to standards of research accuracy and attribution, particularly on subjects that . . . might verge on group defamation or harassment and hostility.” Dean Ruger’s letter goes on to claim that Prof. Wax is subject to sanctions because she has made “patently false” statements.

So why isn’t UPenn applying the same free speech limitations to the “Palestine Rights” hate-fest, which subjects Jewish and pro-Israel students to harassment and discrimination; and is replete with historic and current falsehoods, anti-Jewish blood libels, group defamation, harassment and hostility?

Again, UPenn is guilty of an outrageous antisemitic double standard and hypocrisy.  

As ZOA set forth in our detailed 10-page open letter to UPenn leadership, the “Palestine Writes” programs and statements made by the “Palestine Writes” organizers, supporters and speakers are vile Jew-hatred, incite anti-Jewish violence and support, and repeatedly support anti-Jewish terrorism. The speakers’ and organizers’ dangerous, heinous, frightening, irrational and false statements include:

  • “Yalla [Let’s go] intifada! [Terror wars in which thousands of Jews were maimed and murdered] (Susan Abulhawa, Executive Director of Palestine Writes)
  • “Someday we will demolish this racist colonial zionist military ‘state.’ And the world will be a better place for it.” (Id.)
  • “Israel’s always inventing ways to outdo Nazi sadism without rousing too much international outcry.” (Id.)
  • “y’all can call me whatever names you want. Israel is not so different than Nazi Germany, nor are Israelis different than Germans of Nazi Germany.” (Id.)
  • “Palestinians have a right to resist with arms . . . The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics — both nonviolent and violent.” (Huwaida Arraf, Palestine Writes organizer and speaker)
  • “Are most Jews evil? Of course they are.” (Refaat Alareer)
  • “We must offer more than just words.” Instead Palestinian-Arabs must be allowed to engage in “revolts,” “resistance” (the well-known euphemism for Palestinian-Arab violence and terrorism), and “tactics otherwise divergent from Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi” (meaning, violent tactics). (Marc Lamont Hill)
  • “Every Black activist should stand with . . . Palestinian freedom fighter being railroaded for her commitment to justice,” PFLP terrorist Rasmea Odeh. (Odeh was convicted for planting bombs at a supermarket, which killed two Jewish students; and at the British consulate in Israel.) (Marc Lamont Hill)
  • “my dear brother and comrade Ali Jiddah. A true freedom fighter. #afropalestine).” (Ali Jiddah was convicted and spent 17 years in Israeli prison for planting four grenades in downtown Jerusalem that injured nine people.) (Marc Lamont Hill)
  • “Palestine from the river to the Sea” (meaning destroying the Jewish State of Israel)
  • celebrating “continuing the Unity Intifada” [anti-Jewish terror wars]. (Sherene Seikaly)
  • “yeah i support violent resistance and what about it? liberation by any and all means necessary” and “resistance by any means necessary and i stand by everything i said!” (Aya Ghanameh)
  • “wanna fight zionists irl [in real life] find me on risd’s campus im ready.” and “if a zionist breathes near me today i will destroy you.” (Id.)
  • “death to israel.” (Id.)
  • “bully zionists or smthn [something] omg” (Id.)
  • f**k the americans, zionists, and arab governments. long live the revolution” (Id.)

(See ZOA’s open letter to UPenn leadership for much more)

UPenn’s continuing support of this Jew-hating, Jew-killing-promoting, Israel-bashing “Palestine Rights” conference thus reveals that UPenn’s leaders are unadulterated hypocrites.

ZOA note to our activists: Please remember to contact UPenn leaders to demand that they withdraw all UPenn support and facilities from “Palestine Writes.” Contact information for your calls and letters is in ZOA’s action alert here.

  • Center for Law & Justice
    We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
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