USC moves Jewish professor to remote teaching after he said Hamas 'murderers' 'should be killed'

The University of Southern California recently moved a Jewish economic professor to remote work after he called Hamas terrorists "murderers" who "should be killed" in front of a group of pro-Palestinian students on campus.

Professor John Strauss was shifted to teach the rest of his classes for the semester remotely after the confrontation between him and the students earlier this month.

USC confirmed the move to Fox News Digital this weekend in a statement saying Strauss "is teaching his classes remotely through the end of the semester."

Strauss became the center of controversy after his on-campus interaction with pro-Palestinian demonstrators organized by USC Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, USC Graduates for Palestine, and Trojans for Palestine.

Video of the confrontation depicted Strauss walking past the student protesters and calling them "ignorant. Really ignorant."

Once the students engaged him, the professor added, "Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are."

However, shorter edits of that footage – which left out the portion naming Hamas – spread online, giving many viewers the impression that Strauss wanted Palestinians killed.

One user shared the edited footage to X on Nov. 10, where it received millions of views. In addition to the video, the user shared info about Strauss’ resumé while working for the school. She captioned the post, writing, "Here is @USC professor John Strauss saying ‘every one of them should be killed, and I hope they all are’ while passing by students who organised a memorial for 10,000+ Palestinian martyrs killed in the past month."

Several days after the footage went viral, Strauss defended himself in an interview with Annenberg Media during which he alleged that people removed the context deliberately.

"Every one of them, of course, referred to Hamas," he said as quoted by The College Fix, adding, "Then that later was changed to, in the video that was released publicly that was heavily doctored, to Palestinians should be murdered. And that’s not what I said at all."

After the altercation, the decision was made to keep Strauss off campus to keep things peaceful. The school paper The Daily Trojan obtained a letter that USC sent to the professor explaining the move was done, "to minimize disruption to the educational environment and to ensure a safe environment for both you and students." The school insisted that the action was not disciplinary. 

The incident became a lightning rod on campus, prompting two petitions – one in support of the professor and one demanding his termination. Both were signed by thousands of people. 

Strauss’ treatment prompted reaction from the Academic Freedom Alliance, an organization of college faculty dedicated to protecting free speech on campuses. In a letter sent to USC Provost Andrew Guzman, the group criticized the school’s treatment of Strauss, writing, "the university’s actions represent an egregious violation of the principles of freedom of expression and due process which the University of Southern California has contractually committed itself."

It added that Strauss’ words to the pro-Palestinian demonstrators are "fully in bounds of protected First Amendment speech."

In its statement shared with Fox, USC stated, "We cannot discuss the details of matters that are pending investigation. With that said, USC takes allegations of harassment or threatened violence seriously, and we follow our university policies and processes in investigating them." 

It added, "In investigating allegations of this nature, the university must also abide by its Policy on Free Speech, as well as the broad First Amendment protections accorded to students under the California Leonard Law. As a general matter, while an investigation is pending, the university may impose interim measures to minimize disruption to the educational environment and ensure a safe environment for all members of our community."

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