Stanford University (Photo/File)
Stanford University (Photo/File)

Stanford student who vowed to fight Zionists resigns as resident assistant

A Stanford University student who posted Facebook messages vowing to “fight Zionists on campus” resigned today from his position as a resident assistant and said he is beginning trauma-based therapy “to help me learn how to regulate my emotions when triggered.”

“My name is Hamzeh Daoud. I am a third-generation Palestinian refugee; my grandparents took refuge in Jordan following the Arab-Israeli war. I bear with me trans-generational trauma that is beyond the confines of this statement,” he said in an op-ed in the Stanford Daily.

“I will be stepping down from my job as resident assistant at Stanford University to focus my attentions on my studies and on processing the repercussions of my post,” he wrote. “I recognize that I was projecting my own trauma onto others in a way that is never acceptable.”

Stanford issued a statement confirming the resignation of Daoud, whom it said had been the target of death threats on social media.

“The student acknowledges the adverse effects this episode has had in our community. His decision to step down as an RA puts the interests of the broader community first,” the statement said. “Following standard university procedure in cases of possible threat, the university has conducted an extensive case assessment and concluded that the student does not pose a physical threat to other members of the community.”

Hillel at Stanford applauded the move and called on the university to “take additional steps to ensure all students at Stanford feel safe, and are able to live and learn in an environment free of intimidation.”

“We believe this student’s actions, at the very least, disqualify him from a leadership and student-facing role on campus, and this decision is a step forward in ensuring the safety of Jewish and pro-Israel students,” Hillel said in a message to its members.

A day after the Knesset passed a law on July 19 declaring Israel the “nation-state of the Jewish people,” Daoud sent out a Facebook post reacting to the legislation.

“I’m gonna physically fight Zionists on campus next year if someone comes at me with their ‘Israel is a democracy’ bullshit,” he wrote. “And after I abolish your ass I’ll go ahead and work every day for the rest of my life to abolish your petty ass ethno-supremacist, settler-colonial state.”

Daoud amended the post less than four hours later, replacing the word “physically” with “intellectually” and saying he made the change “because I realize intellectually beating Zionists is the only way to go. Physical fighting is never an answer when trying to prove people wrong.”

Daoud, a former member of the school’s undergraduate Senate who will be a junior this coming school year, sent an email three days later to the Stanford Jewish community mailing list in which he apologized “for the pain I made the Jewish community feel.”

“I do not apologize for my stance that continues to be against Israel, and I hope you respect this difference in political opinion from yours as much as I respect your difference in stance,” he added. “I never intended, and will never intend, to cause any harm to the Jewish community. I respect the Jewish community, the beauty and resilience of the Jewish religion and people, and the power that Jewish students bring to campus.”

The Stanford College Republicans called on the university to fire Daoud from his RA position, and the New York-based Zionist Organization of America sent an email to Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne saying Daoud “should be expelled immediately.”

“In addition, we strongly urge you to report his conduct to law enforcement so that they can investigate whether his actions are criminal and he should be prosecuted,” the ZOA said. 

According to a Facebook post by the student magazine Stanford Politics, formerly Stanford Political Journal, Daoud has been an “active leader” in Students for Justice in Palestine who was “one of two Muslim senators” in the undergraduate senate. He also participated in a “widely seen, on-campus protest following [President Donald] Trump’s designation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Stanford Politics wrote in the post.

Rob Gloster

Rob Gloster z"l was J.'s senior writer from 2016-2019.