Anti-Semitism is 'the oldest of all hates': Faculty speak against shocking social media posts

Over five dozen professors and staff members wrote a letter to the university demanding that they 'publicly and explicitly rebuke Yasmeen Mashayekh for her offensive behavior' against Jewish Americans.

Campus Reform obtained a letter that was sent to professors and staff members, which states that the university has ‘taken the time to clarify these matters because they are vitally important to you and to all of us.’

On Dec. 1, sixty-six professors and staff members at the University of Southern California signed and published an ‘Open Letter to the Leadership of USC’ in response to one USC student who has a heavy history of spreading anti-Semitic rhetoric on social media, especially Twitter. 

Yasmeen Mashayekh, the student in question, contributes “anti-Semitism and Zionophobia on [USC’s] campus,” the letter argues. 

“We, the undersigned faculty, wish to register our dismay about ongoing open expressions of anti-Semitism and Zionophobia on our campus that go unrebuked,” the letter opens. “The silence of our leadership on this matter is alienating, hurtful, and depressing. It amounts to tacit acceptance of a toxic atmosphere of hatred and hostility,” the letter opens. 

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The letter does not call for any penalization, as it states, “We refrain from judging whether this student’s speech is protected by the First Amendment and whether her behavior requires disciplinary action.”

Robert Adler, a professor of pediatrics at USC, shared his perspective about the situation in context of free speech. 

Anti-Semitism is “the oldest of all hates,” Professor Adler told Campus Reform. “When do hateful words become hateful actions and do hateful words of a graduate student in a prestigious University motivate others to turn hateful thoughts and words to actions?”

Jeremy Pepper, USC Director of Communications, provided Campus Reform with a letter that was sent to faculty and staff in response to Dec. 1 letter and the comments the student has made in the past.

The letter begins, “Thank you for your letter about this matter, which has disturbed us deeply as we understand very well the hurtful impact of the statements on Twitter that you quoted, not only to those who are Jewish but also to those of us who know how harmful antisemitism is when left unchecked.”

According to the letter, Mashayekh was removed from a paid mentoring position through the school over the summer due to tweets brought to the school’s attention. 

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The letter concludes, “We have taken the time to clarify these matters because they are vitally important to you and to all of us. Unfortunately, more incidents like these involving social media will likely arise in the future. We sincerely appreciate your concerns and agree completely that antisemitism has no place on our campuses now or in the future.”

Campus Reform asked Pepper for additional comment. He responded, “We don’t have anything to add beyond what was in the letter.”

“My parents who were holocaust survivors are well aware of hateful words transitioning to death and destruction. All hateful language should be vigorously condemned,” Addler told Campus Reform.

Campus Reform reached out to Yasmeen Mashayekh for comment but did not receive a response.