UC-Merced prof in hot water after anti-semitic tweets, images surface

Abbas Ghassemi, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Merced, allegedly posted multiple anti-semitic tweets in 2020, according to a report.

Ghassemi deleted his Twitter account when asked for comment about his antisemitic and anti-Israel posts.

The university has launched an investigation into the professor and a petition is calling for his firing.

The University of California-Merced is investigating a professor who has made several anti-semitic remarks on his former Twitter account. The move by the university comes after a pro-Israel group claimed that the university attempted “minimize or condone” the tweets.

According to a report from The Jewish News of Northern California, UC-Merced Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Abbas Ghassemi allegedly posted several questionable tweets, one of which included an image of a so-called “Zionist brain” from the website “Jew World Order," which included sections labeled “Frontal Money Lobe," “Compulsive Lying Olfactory," “Holocaust Memory Centre," “Terrorism Centre," “Self Pity Gland," “Land Usurpation," “Antisemitic Sensory," and “World Domination Lobe."

In another tweet, Ghassemi allegedly wrote that “the Zionists and IsraHell interest have embedded themselves in every component of the American system, media, banking, policy, commerce…just a veneer of serving US interest and population — everyone pretends that is the case.”

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Ghassemi’s Twitter account also allegedly included a header photo of a blood-splattered Israeli flag with the phrase “IsraHell” inscribed in the bottom right-hand corner. 

The account, registered in July 2019 and operating under the username “@ProfessorGhass1," included a biography section that read “Professor of engineering at the University of California” and a location of “Merced, CA," according to the Jewish News of Northern California.

In his tweets, Ghassemi allegedly used the term “IsraHell” in reference to Israel. When contacted by The Jewish News of Northern California, Ghassemi reportedly deleted his Twitter account and declined to comment on his posts.

James Chiavelli, Assistant Vice Chancellor for UC Merced's Office of External Relations, said in response that the tweets were the “opinions of a private individual” and not the “positions of the institution," according to the report. 

Chiavelli also invoked “the right to freedom of expression," saying that the university is committed to a “culture of dialogue, understanding, and civility in all interactions.”

However, the university has now launched an investigation into the professor and condemned the tweets.

“The opinions presented in this Twitter account do not represent UC Merced or the University of California,” Muñoz said in a statement posted to the school's website. “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.”

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An online petition, meanwhile, is calling for the university to fire Ghassemi. 

"Dr. Ghassemi needs to be fired. Deleting his twitter is not and will not be enough. Have we learned from history? this is exactly how oppression and hate stems... You can't just ignore this until it goes away. That within itself is oppression. Do you want to be oppressors?" the petition states.

StandWithUs, a pro-Israel Jewish advocacy organization, admonished UC-Merced for its comments that “minimize or condone” Ghassemi’s tweets.

In a letter to the university, dated December 24, StandWithUs stated that it was “concerned” by UC-Merced’s position on the matter and insisted that its “attempt to justify” Ghassemi’s postings “entirely misses the point."

"Ghassemi’s discriminatory statements are egregious for a professor presumably responsible for teaching and grading a protected minority on-campus—Jewish and Israeli students," the letter stated. 

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Seth Brysk, a representative of the Anti-Defamation League, according to the report, similarly called Ghassemi’s tweets as “textbook examples of crude, antisemitic canards; mendacious allegations about Jewish power and control, attempts to dehumanize and demonize Jewish people, denial of Jewish peoplehood and the right to self-determination, Holocaust trivialization, insinuations about Jewish greed, and more”, adding that the professor’s posts were “deeply offensive."

UC Merced's website shows that Ghassemi is teaching a seminar restricted to first-year undergraduates called “Renewable Energy Facts & Applications."

Campus Reform reached out to Ghassemi and UC-Merced for comment but did not receive a response.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @mattwilson1776