UC Merced opens inquiry into professor’s anti-Semitic tweets


(J. the Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — The University of California, Merced has launched an inquiry into the conduct of a teaching professor at its engineering school whose Twitter account featured a pattern of anti-Semitic posts.

Abbas Ghassemi’’s tweets included a photo of a “Zionist brain” with labels such as “frontal money lobe,” “Holocaust memory centre” and “world domination lobe.” The same image can be found on the website Jew World Order, which peddles anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Ghassemi also tweeted about the U.S. government, media and banking all being controlled by Zionists and Israel on 10 separate occasions between October and December. He also frequently referred to the State of Israel as “IsraHell.”

The account, launched in 2019, had tweeted over 2,220 times before it was deactivated.

“The opinions presented in this Twitter account do not represent UC Merced or the University of California,” Chancellor Juan Sánchez Munoz wrote in a letter posted to the university’s website Tuesday evening. “They were abhorrent and repugnant to us and to many of our colleagues and neighbors; they were harmful to our university, our students, and our years of work to build an inclusive and welcoming community.

“We have called upon the dean and department chair to work with the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel to conduct an inquiry into potential violations of our standards, the UC Faculty Code of Conduct or other policies of the university, to determine what consequences are appropriate,” the letter stated.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Gregg Camfield also signed the letter.

In addition to the inquiry, the university will also develop programming for the upcoming semester that addresses “free speech, hate speech and anti-Semitism in academia and promotes ways to challenge discriminatory insinuations when and wherever they emerge within the university community.”

The university also said it will be making policy updates “that make clear the rights and the responsibilities of our community members to adhere to all applicable policies and expectations against intolerance, particularly when using social media.”

“We must not let anti-Semitism or any form of bigotry or hate toward any group take root in the UC Merced community,” the letter said.

According to an individual directly familiar with the matter, Ghassemi has retained legal counsel with an attorney who specializes in First Amendment issues in academia.

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