A Jewish professor at USC confronted pro-Palestinian students. He’s now barred from campus

Until recently, USC professor John Strauss was known mostly for his research on the economics of developing countries, with decades of fieldwork in Indonesia and China.

That changed Nov. 9, when Strauss stopped before students staging a walkout and protest calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and holding a memorial to thousands of Palestinian civilians killed in the Israel-Hamas war.

The economics professor’s interactions with students that day ended with the 72-year-old Strauss, who is Jewish, declaring: “Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are killed.”

Students captured those remarks on their cellphones, almost instantly seeming to recognize a viral moment. “Can you say that for the camera?” one pressed.

Within hours, Strauss’ comments were posted online, shared and reshared on X, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

As his remarks raced across the internet, his condemnation of Hamas was often excised, leaving only his “hope” for “all” to be killed. Captions and comments online framed his demand for “every one” to be killed in myriad, at times deceptive, ways. One Instagram post shared to millions of users claimed falsely that Strauss told the students, “[I] hope you get killed….”

Within a day, an associate dean told Strauss that he was on paid administrative leave, barred from campus, and that he would no longer teach his undergraduates this semester.

Within the week, a petition demanding that USC fire Strauss for his “racist, xenophobic behavior” and comments that “promote and incite violence” had collected more than 6,500 signatures.

Meanwhile, more than 9,000 signed a counter-petition decrying USC’s treatment of Strauss as “unjust,” saying he was the victim of online misinformation, and demanding that the university reinstate him.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles, called for USC to launch an investigation into Strauss and to take actions to protect “Muslim, Palestinian and Arab students as well as any others who are targeted by hate and bigotry.”

Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression at PEN America, criticized USC for “a shocking overreaction,” adding in a statement, “What USC has done runs counter to the university’s obligation to foster dialogue and debate.”

By now, millions have viewed portions of Strauss’ remarks, and his statements — and USC’s response — have become a Rorschach test for a war raging 7,500 miles away.

With its political, ethnic, generational and religious fault lines, the incident has reignited intractable debates over campus censorship, academic freedom and student safety. Nearly every student who spoke to The Times for this article would do so only on condition of anonymity, citing a fear of online harassment.

But at a fundamental level, the episode is also a debate over what exactly transpired.


On that Thursday in early November, Strauss walked across USC’s brick-paved campus to teach an undergraduate course on the economics of sub-Saharan Africa.

He saw a large crowd by the university’s landmark statue, Tommy Trojan. At first he thought it was a demonstration for grad students who are negotiating their first union contract and threatening a strike.

He got closer and said he saw “that it was a big Palestinian demonstration.” He told The Times that he heard slogans such as “Destroy Israel” and calls for the U.S. to revoke funding for Israel. (Students dispute that “destroy Israel” was ever uttered at the demonstration.)

“That’s what I heard and I got angry,” said Strauss, who has worked at USC since 2004 and has tenure. “I am Jewish and very pro-Israel, so I shouted, ‘Israel forever. Hamas are murderers.’”

The demonstration was part of a national “Shut It Down for Palestine” action and included a student walkout from class, a march through campus and a rally where some students chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a phrase that is viewed as either a call for Palestinians to have equality or a call for the destruction of Israel, depending on the listener.

Near a busy campus corridor, the event also included a memorial to Palestinians killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, a death toll that was then about 10,000 and that has since grown to more than 13,000, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. Partly enclosed by a fence, the memorial featured four long rolls of paper, at least 18 inches wide, unfurled several feet across the ground. On the paper were printed thousands of names.

Students said that when Strauss came to the demonstration, he stepped on the paper. One student said he was “desecrating the names.”

“All I did was walk through the crowd,” Strauss said, insisting he never saw the list of names but spotted the memorial later in the day after the crowd had dissipated. He acknowledged that he “might well have accidentally walked on” the list but said it was “completely unintentional.”

No one appears to have recorded the first interaction, but students say his presence caused a stir.

When Daphne, a USC student who asked to be identified only by her first name, came to help at the memorial and stand by a table for the event, she said she was told about an older man who seemed to be a professor and had shouted something like, “Long live Israel.”

“At that point, we didn’t know who he was,” she recalled.


Strauss’ undergraduate class ended around 3 p.m. and he planned to return to his office, on the western edge of campus, by passing by the Tommy Trojan statue and pro-Palestinian demonstration.

By that point, a cluster of Jewish students had begun to stand about 50 feet from the demonstration.

One of the students, who described herself as Jewish and a Zionist and also spoke on condition of anonymity, said she had seen the rally and memorial for Palestinians after her class let out. She said that although she felt “horrible for the innocent lives lost on both sides,” she was also upset that the event made “no mention of Hamas, a terrorist organization.”

She recalled seeing a fellow Jewish student nearby. “We just decided to stand and hold our flag. We weren’t saying anything,” she said.

In the center of campus, the two Jewish students held their mini Israeli flags aloft and were eventually joined by a rabbi and other Jewish peers wearing kippahs. Fifty feet away, Daphne and her peers watched over the memorial for slain Palestinians. A metal fence separated the two groups.

Each accused the other side of taunts and “harassment.”

Just after 3 p.m., Strauss walked by after leaving his class.

Among the Jewish students, he was greeted warmly.

Strauss continued, rounding the corner toward USC’s bookstore when witnesses say at least one student yelled out, “Professor Strauss, shame on you.”

Clad in cargo pants and a plaid-green dress shirt, he said he bellowed, “No, shame on you.”

Then the cameras started rolling again.

“You people are ignorant, really ignorant,” Strauss said, holding a file of papers in one hand and a bottle of water in the other.

A student in a gray Lululemon waffle-knit hoodie and black pants is heard telling Strauss that the event was to “pay respects” to those killed. A classmate wearing a red kaffiyeh wrapped around his head rushed over and inserted himself between the professor and the students.

That was the moment when Strauss uttered the words that precipitated the uproar: Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are killed.

“I got that on video. Thank you!” a student says.


Strauss drove home and when he checked his email later that evening, he saw messages from Jewish students expressing support and realized that an Instagram page, Trojans for Palestine, had posted some of the video.

Strauss said that video was “heavily doctored.”

Daphne, who made one of the two videos circulating online, denied the recording was edited. “I do not possess the ability to doctor a video like that. And also we have a second video that matches so, like, there’s no way on God’s green Earth that I would have been able to doctor that video.”

To Strauss and his supporters, “doctored” means edited or clipped in a deceptive way. The Times could find no evidence that his voice had been altered or his words substantively changed in the video.

But as the clip circulated online, it was at times trimmed to a few seconds of Strauss uttering, “Every one should be killed.”

The captions and superimposed text in social media posts could be minimal, misleading or wrong.

“This zionist econ professor purposefully stepped on the list of martyrs before our march and came by again after & said ‘everyone should be killed,’” a student group posted on Instagram.

Another post on Instagram, shared by @CravingPalestine and activist Shaun King, among others, said Strauss “threatened these students ‘hope you get killed and I hope they all are (*Gaza)” during a campus rally for Gaza.” That post has been viewed more than 3.2 million times.

At one point, the group Trojans for Palestine clarified on Instagram that Strauss “did not say he wanted Palestinians to be killed, but Hamas,” according to screenshots of the post.

Then, the group appeared to walk it back: “With his hateful rhetoric, you can draw your own conclusion about whether or not he wished death upon just Hamas or civilians as well.”

Within hours of Strauss’ recorded comments, USC’s Muslim Student Union issued a statement saying that Strauss was “repeatedly calling for the murder of the entirety of Palestine” and expressing “a desire for the death of those supporting Palestine.”

“Such remarks are not only beyond the boundaries of academic discourse, but also dangerously incite violence and contribute to a hostile campus atmosphere,” the Muslim Student Union declared in its statement, which called for USC administrators to “ensure a safe space for students to express themselves.” It listed the email addresses of USC’s president, provost and other officials.

Strauss said his rhetorical target was Hamas.

“The allegation was that I said, ‘Kill all Palestinians.’ I never said that and I never would say that. I said, ‘Kill all Hamas.’ That’s quite different,” Strauss asserted.


Strauss learned about 24 hours later, on Nov. 10, that USC’s provost was placing him on paid administrative leave. He said he was told by a university dean that he could continue to teach graduate students via Zoom, but he would not teach undergraduates for the rest of the semester.

The provost told Strauss four days later that he was the subject of multiple complaints to USC’s equity, diversity and Title IX office and that he would continue to be barred from campus while complaints were investigated, according to a letter from the provost obtained by The Times.

In the meantime, Strauss was deluged with hateful emails, prompting USC to have a team review the messages for security threats.

The Academic Freedom Alliance provided legal counsel to Strauss and sent a letter to USC’s leaders on his behalf dismissing the notion that it was he who posed a threat to anyone on campus.

“The university becomes the instrument of a heckler’s veto when it punishes a member of the faculty when other members of the campus community or of the general public react vociferously enough to a professor’s lawful speech,” the alliance wrote.

About that time, USC lifted some of its measures against Strauss and allowed him to resume teaching undergraduates via Zoom. Still, the university kept in place his ban from campus.

A USC spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of Strauss’ case. Asked about USC dropping its prohibition of Strauss teaching undergraduates, a spokesperson said in a statement, “The university is always willing to change its approach as it receives and considers more information; our north star is protecting the safety of our community.”

Strauss is being helped by fellow Jewish faculty and a network of students and alumni. Among them is Daisy Kahn, an alumna based in New York who said she became alarmed by posts online, including a slew of negative reviews on the Rate My Professors site.

“The relentless misinformation campaign has unfairly tarnished professor Strauss’ reputation but has also fueled division,” Kahn said.

Click here to read the full article in the LA TIMES

Bass selects former USC official, City Hall advisor as new chief of staff

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on Tuesday appointed Carolyn Webb de Macias as chief of staff, succeeding Chris Thompson, who held the powerful post for less than a year.

Webb de Macias is a former senior advisor to former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and also worked for then-City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas.

She also worked in the U.S. Department of Education as an appointee of President Obama, and as USC’s vice president of external relations, according to Bass’ office.

“I’ve known Carolyn for years and I know Los Angeles has benefited from her work for even longer than that,” Bass said in a statement. “Carolyn is thoughtful, skilled, dedicated and the right person for the job. I’m grateful she has agreed to join our team as we continue our work to move Los Angeles forward.”

In a statement, Webb de Macias said she was “thrilled to work with Mayor Bass in executing her vision of improving the quality of life for all Angelenos.”

Webb de Macias, 75, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Her LinkedIn profile said she serves on the boards of the water company Cadiz Inc. and Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a nonprofit founded by Villaraigosa.

Thompson, Bass’ chief of staff since December, is returning to the private sector, Bass’ office said. A Bass spokesman declined to comment on his new job.

Thompson previously served as senior vice president of governmental relations for LA28, the private group putting on the Olympic Games. He had agreed to stay away from any Olympics issues at the city for a year out of concern about the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

1 Arrested in Killing Near USC

A 31-year-old man was arrested in the shooting death of a security guard early Wednesday outside a student apartment building about half a mile from USC, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The shooting was reported around 12:30 a.m. outside the Lorenzo complex in the 300 block of West Adams Boulevard, just south of 23rd Street and east of Flower Street. The victim, a guard at the complex, was shot while trying to escort a trespasser off the property, the LAPD said in a news release.

He died at the scene, officials said. His identity has not been released.

During the investigation, police found a possible suspect sleeping in a parking area near the lobby of the apartment complex, according to the LAPD. The man, later identified as Alexander Crawford, 31, was detained without incident and found to have a handgun in his possession, police said.

Video reviewed by investigators connected the man to the shooting, according to the LAPD, and the gun found in his possession matched the caliber used in the guard’s killing.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

USC Student ‘Diversity’ Senator Under Fire for Tweet Threatening to Kill Zionists

A student “diversity” representative at the University of Southern California is under fire for a series of explosive tweets, including one that threatened to kill “every motherf–ing Zionist.”

Yasmeen Mashayekh, a “diversity, equity and inclusion” senator to the Viterbi Graduate Student Association posted the now-deleted tweet in May, according to Fox News.

The USC student has a history of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel tweets including one from June that said: “If you are not for the complete destruction of Israel and the occupation forces then you’re anti-Palestinian,” according to Fox.

She has also tweeted her support for Hamas, whose military wing is considered a terrorist organization. In May, Mashayekh tweeted “Yes I f–king love hamas now stfu,” Fox said.

“Zionists are going to f–king pay,” she reportedly said in a tweet on June 21.

Mashayekh doubled down on her tweets on a podcast by Palestine in America on Dec. 2, saying she feels no obligation to apologize.

More than 60 current and former USC faculty members drafted a letter to the school’s leadership, calling on them to “publicly and explicitly rebuke Yasmeen Mashayekh for her offensive behavior and to distance USC from her hateful statements.”

Click here to read the full article at NYPost

USC Sexual Assault Bill Threatens to Deny Victims Justice

The University of Southern California (USC) sexual assault scandal is back in the limelight thanks to a new bill introduced by California Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes (AB 1510) that gives victims a 12-month window to revive cases that are barred by the state’s statute of limitations. While the bill appears to offer victims a new chance to pursue justice, in reality, it jeopardizes their privacy and the financial compensation that is guaranteed by a recently offered class-action settlement.

In 2017, USC fired its gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall for complaints about inappropriate comments and conduct toward his patients. Since then, about 500 students have filed sexual assault lawsuits against Tyndall and the university.

This year, USC offered a $215 million class-action settlement for any Tyndall patient who chooses to participate. The settlement amounts to up to $250,000 per patient and requires the university to make several changes to the ways it handles sexual misconduct prevention and response.

The catch is that participating in the class-action lawsuit settlement would prevent women from filing lawsuits of their own in state court, which means many have an important decision to make — hope to earn justice and a better payout through an individual lawsuit or accept the justice and payment the USC settlement offers.

Reyes’ legislation makes this decision even more difficult. If passed, the bill would give Tyndall’s patients an extra year to decide whether to opt-out of the class-action lawsuit and file a lawsuit of their own. Such an extension combined with attorneys’ promises and the immense media pressure surrounding the USC case will incentivize patients to forego the class-action settlement. But in so doing, victims would gamble away their chances at justice, payment and privacy.

Unlike most sexual assault settlements, USC’s class-action settlement guarantees payment to all possible victims. Every patient of Dr. Tyndall’s — even those who have not yet alleged assault — will receive at least $2,500 unless they choose to opt out. Those willing to submit a written statement and conduct a private interview with a court-approved third-party specialist will receive up to $250,000. Although not as large as payouts in the Michigan State University assault case surrounding former sports doctor Larry Nassar, these payments are as large or larger than what many sexual assault victims receive.

“It is my considered judgement,” said sexual assault mediator and retired judge Layne Phillips in a sworn declaration, “that plaintiffs would be unlikely to have obtained more money and benefits without going through years of discovery and trial, where they would face substantial risks of a less favorable outcome.”

Even in famous sexual abuse cases, women often receive less than the settlement USC offers. In the Harvey Weinstein cases, for example, most women settled for between $80,000 and $150,000.

“Whenever you litigate, there’s a risk,” said Annika Martin, one of the attorneys leading the class-action settlement in the Tyndall case, “And, sure, you could have come up with a verdict of more than $250,000, but you could have come up with a jury verdict of zero.”

Acting on Reyes’ legislation also forces victims to undertake the painful and public process of proving to an unpredictable jury that Tyndall assaulted them — in many cases relying on evidence that is decades old, with witnesses that are missing, and with testimony marred by age and forgetfulness.

“I have grown weary of plaintiff’s lawyers and images of ambulance chasers who prey on victims with the hopes of big payouts,” wrote women’s advocate and attorney Cherylyn Lebon in the Los Angeles Daily News. “In the process, survivors are lost in the shuffle and are re-victimized again.”

Lebon noted that the USC settlement avoids the challenges individual lawsuits would raise, affording victims the payment and privacy they deserve.

Elisabeth Treadway, a victim of Tyndall’s from 1999 agrees in USA Today:

“The settlement holds USC accountable for their failure to protect female students under their care and supervision. The process for receiving compensation is straightforward and gives victims the choice on how much of their story they want to share. While I am ready to speak publicly about my experience, I understand many women are not. Importantly, this settlement acknowledges all of us.”

Lawmakers should not fall for the claim that this legislation will bring women justice — for many, it will jeopardize the justice they’ve already won. Instead, lawmakers should listen to women’s advocates, attorneys, and victims themselves and allow women to make their own decisions about whether to accept the USC settlement as it stands, without adding new caveats, exceptions, or confusions to the law.

Kristiana Bolzman is a contributor for Young Voices and writes on education policy issues for a San Francisco-based nonprofit. Follow her on Twitter @KristianaBolzmn.

Can L.A. Afford Another Olympics?

Boston bailed on hosting the 2024 Olympics when Mayor Martin Walsh refused to sign a host city contract with the United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”) that would have put Beantown (and possibly the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) on the hook for any cost overruns associated with this 17 day extravaganza. But Walsh’s refusal to mortgage Boston’s future was understandable given the unfavorable economics associated with this over hyped event.

According to an article in Harvard Magazine, “A Fiscal Faustian Bargain” by Professor Andrew Zimbalist, perhaps the foremost analyst of public investments in sports facilities and global athletic competitions, the cost is expected to exceed $15 billion.  This includes operating costs during the games, the construction of new venues, infrastructure improvements and security.

However, revenue expectations from the media rights, domestic and international corporate sponsorships, ticket sales, licensing agreements and “other” revenues are projected to be less than $5 billion.

This shortfall of more than $10 billion horrifies frugal New Englanders, so much so that a referendum banning the expenditure of public funds was favored to pass next year.

The last minute withdrawal of Boston’s bid to represent the USA has put the USOC in a difficult position because it must submit its proposal to the International Olympic Committee by mid-September. A final decision by the IOC is due in September of 2017.

The question for the USOC is whether it will submit a bid to host the 2024 Olympics, and, if so, which city.

In January, Boston was selected over L.A., San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  But even then, everybody knew that Los Angeles was the best place to host the 2024 Games.  We have an existing infrastructure: the Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, Staples, Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium, USC, UCLA and many other quality sporting venues.

We have a captive audience of 20 million people in Southern California and a history of supporting our teams and the most successful Olympics ever in 1984.

But does L.A. have the financial resources to pull off an Olympics where our cash strapped city is not responsible for operating losses, cost overruns, and excessive infrastructure improvements?

This will obviously be a concern for Angelenos as it was in the early 1980’s when the voters approved a charter amendment banning the use of public funds to support the Olympics.

More than likely, City Hall will leap at the opportunity to host the 2024 Olympics, touting all the great benefits that will accrue to all Angelenos. While some these claims may well be true, we must remember that today’s politicians will be termed out of office and long gone by the time the bill comes due.

Another Freeway Olympics would be a great event for the city, the county, and all of Southern California. But before the city puts in any bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games, we need detailed financial information as well as ironclad assurances that our city – which cannot afford to repair and maintain its streets and sidewalks or properly fund its pension plans – and the taxpayers are not on the hook for any expenses unless they are approved in advance by the voters.

Let the games begin.

Originally published by CityWatchLA

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and a member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds – www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com