Israeli professor working in the US calls Palestinian student a “cockroach”
by Gabriel Schivone and Nora Barrows-Friedman
Students in the five-college Claremont system in southern California are organizing against an act of racial discrimination by an Israeli professor who called a Palestinian student a “cockroach.”
Since the incident became public, the student says he has faced violent threats written on his reserved seat in the campus library, and someone flattened one of the tires of his car with a sharpened key.
The first incident occurred on Monday, 4 March, when the Claremont group of Students for Justice in Palestine launched its series of events marking Israeli Apartheid Weekwith street theater actions simulating mock Israeli military checkpoints at three of the colleges throughout the day. Israeli Apartheid Week is marked at campuses nationwide and internationally to educate the wider public about Israel’s occupation and supremacist rule in Palestine.
At one point that evening, a man who was later identified as a faculty member at Claremont McKenna College aggressively approached the Students for Justice in Palestine members staffing a mock checkpoint which was set up outside an entrance of the Collins Dining Hall on the campus.
The professor, Yaron Raviv, who is an Israeli citizen and teaches economics at Claremont McKenna College, demanded that the dining hall staff, the dean of students and campus security remove the Students for Justice in Palestine members from the area.
But since Students for Justice in Palestine had acquired official permission for its event and had its paperwork in order, neither the school officials nor the dining staff agreed to remove the students. They did request, however, that the students not block the doorway.
The student activists complied with this request, according to a Claremont McKenna College Campus Safety and Security officer’s incident report obtained by The Electronic Intifada.
A Palestinian member of Students for Justice in Palestine, Najib Hamideh, then walked up to the professor and politely asked his reason for being there, requesting that the man identify himself. In an exchange verified and quoted in the officer’s report, the professor then responded, “Fuck off, you cockroach.”
According to Hamideh, Raviv next referred to all the Students for Justice in Palestine members as cockroaches, and then asked him which of the Claremont colleges Hamideh belonged to. When Hamideh replied that he attends Pitzer College, Raviv then responded that “all Pitzer kids are cockroaches,” Hamideh says.
The Electronic Intifada attempted to contact professor Raviv for a comment on 13 March, but he has still not replied to our request.