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StandWithUs Follow Up Letter to UC Merced Administration with Additional Tweets from Professor

January 5, 2021


VIA EMAIL: (chancellormunoz@ucmerced.edu; twpeterson@ucmerced.edu)


Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D.

Chancellor

University of California, Merced

5200 North Lake Rd.

Merced, California 95343


Dr. Thomas Peterson, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus and Chair (BIOE)

University of California, Merced

School of Engineering

5200 North Lake Rd.

Merced, California 95343


RE: Additional Twitter Posts Allegedly from Professor Abbas Ghassemi Further Demonstrating Antisemitic Sentiments Unbecoming of a Faculty Member


Dear Chancellor Muñoz and Professor Peterson,


We write on behalf of the StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department and the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism, divisions of StandWithUs, an international, non-profit Israel education organization to follow up on our December 24, 2020 letter regarding Abbas Ghassemi, a teaching professor at the University of California, Merced who displayed an alarming hatred for Jews, Israelis and Zionists through a series of discriminatory and antisemitic statements and images on his now-deleted public Twitter account. We want to bring to your attention screenshots of additional Twitter posts allegedly from Ghassemi’s deleted Twitter account[1] that were sent to us by a concerned Jewish member of the UC Merced community who wishes to remain anonymous. We hope that these purported statements help provide a full and adequate picture of Ghassemi’s apparent obsession with and hatred for Jews, Israelis and Zionism, a core part of mainstream Jewish identity.


We were pleased to learn that the university has opened an investigation into Ghassemi’s conduct to determine whether his repugnant statements violate any university policy. We thank you for your commitment to developing programming addressing “free speech, hate speech and anti-Semitism in academia” and for agreeing to policy updates clarifying UC Merced community members’ responsibilities in adhering to expectations against intolerance on social media. We agree with your statement that the antisemitic tropes repeatedly espoused by Ghassemi are “abhorrent and repugnant” to the integrity of your university. Your moral clarity, leadership and decisiveness in response to concerns about a professor with a clear hatred toward Jews and Israelis are exemplary and should serve as a model for similar incidents on campuses throughout the country.


Ghassemi’s additional purported statements repeatedly espouse antisemitic stereotypes including Jewish conspiracy theories. For example, in a November 12, 2020 tweet, Ghassemi allegedly states that Zionists “operate the entire system, banking, commerce, media, government,…the front person is only a figure head! IsraHell runs the place!!!” Ghassemi appears to make similar accusations regarding Zionist control in these industries—all of which fall squarely within the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism—in three additional tweets dated November 28, 2020, December 4, 2020 and December 13, 2020. In a December 7, 2020 tweet, Ghassemi appears to tweet five heart emojis and “Love it” while quoting a tweet depicting an image of a towering Jewish Star of David in a cemetery with Hebrew words translated as “the end of the Zionist regime is near.” These alleged statements are attached to this letter as “Exhibit A.” We hope that you find them useful in your inquiry into Ghassemi’s conduct.


Thank you for your continued attention and responsiveness to this troubling matter.


Sincerely,


Roz Rothstein

CEO & Co-Founder

StandWithUs


Yael Lerman

Director

StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department


Carly Gammill

Director

StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism

[1] Although the original tweets and the entire Twitter account “@ProfessorGhass1” from which these hateful tweets seemingly originated have been deleted or made private, these screenshots were apparently obtained from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine website located at web.archive.org.

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