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Letters to the Editor: The furor at USC over a student’s anti-Israel tweets

 Tommy Trojan stands guard over a quiet USC campus in 2020.
Readers react to a letter signed by USC faculty members urging officials to discipline a student for anti-Israel tweets she sent earlier in the year.
(Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: I can only wonder why a person who expresses such bigotry as Yasmeen Mashayekh would be given a paid mentoring job at a major university’s engineering school (from which she has been removed) and be appointed by the graduate student association to serve as a diversity, equity and inclusion senator. (“‘Toxic atmosphere of hatred.’ USC faculty outraged over response to student’s tweets,” Dec. 14)

Can’t the university screen individuals that they put in these sensitive positions? There is enough antisemitism today without putting individuals who express hate in key positions.

Mark Reichard, San Pedro

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To the editor: The failure of your article to draw attention to the context, power dynamics and hypocrisy of this situation is disappointing.

This article headlines and uncritically publishes claims from USC faculty, including one by a professor that she would be “equally distressed” if Palestinians were being targeted.

An unbiased presentation of the issue should have also referenced the fact that the USC signatories have expressed absolutely no concern about the Palestinian student, who has not only received messages threatening her life in response to her political speech disagreeing with the ideology behind the Israeli government’s expansionist violence, but also has witnessed an uptick in the personal and direct nature of the threats as a result of the public attention the USC faculty letter has brought her.

The condemnation the signatories are demanding from USC would only exacerbate the danger that has already caused the student to relocate once. The Times should know better than to amplify the attacks on this college student.

Zoha Khalili, Berkeley

The writer is a staff attorney at Palestine Legal.

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To the editor: Did I read this correctly? A USC student tweeted that she wanted to “kill every motherf—ing Zionist,” and then claimed that she doesn’t feel safe on campus?

And she is a “diversity, equity and inclusion” senator? What am I missing here?

Gloria Spungin, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I am a civil engineering graduate of USC. I was raised to honor and respect Israel.

In recent years, the Israeli government’s egregious treatment of the Palestinians has changed my opinion and I have lost respect for Israel.

I can completely understand Mashayekh’s frustration, and I fully support her right to express it. I hope and trust that USC will not punish her further and will take all possible steps to keep her safe and protect her from death threats.

Noel Park, Rancho Palos Verdes


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