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MIT Associate’s Anti-Jewish Remarks Stir Controversy Amid Investigation into Antisemitism

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty member went on an antisemitic tirade after the House Committee on Education and the Workforce pressed the school to provide internal documents about its response to the outbreak of antisemitism on campus.

A postdoctoral associate working in MIT’s Tonegawa neuroscience lab, Afif Aqrabawi, derided the committee chairwoman, Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), as “a treasonous Zionist tool, a genocide enabler, and a disgusting shit stain of a human,” and described other members of the House as “Israeli bootlickers.”

Aqrabawi also referred to American politicians as “loyal prostitutes of Netanyahu,” lamented the influence of Jewish political groups, and referred to Israelis as “parasites.”

“I make it clear your representatives are eager cucks for defense contractors and AIPAC,” he wrote. “My words are dangerous because they may alert a distracted American public to the parasites using their country as a host species.”

Aqrabawi’s tirade came in the wake of a letter from Foxx to MIT president Sally Kornbluth that panned Kornbluth’s response to several antisemitic incidents on campus and pressed the school to provide internal documents shedding light on its policies and code of conduct.

The committee’s letter cited several tweets Aqrabawi sent, including one in which he said Israel “has no future in this world.” In other posts highlighted by the committee, the MIT faculty member accused Israelis of “harvesting” the organs of dead Palestinians and called Zionists “Jewish fundamentalists who want to enslave the world in a global Apartheid system.”

As a postdoctoral associate in MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Aqrabawi earns a minimum salary of $66,950 and works under a “faculty mentor,” according to MIT’s website. The head of Aqrabawi’s lab is Susumu Tonegawa, a professor of biology and neuroscience.

It is unclear whether Aqrabawi is an American citizen. A self-identified “Palestinian-Canadian,” Aqrabawi graduated from the University of Toronto, according to an online bio, and his social media tirade refers to American politicians as “your representatives.” Neither MIT nor Aqrabawi responded to requests for comment regarding whether he teaches undergraduate students or his citizenship status.

Aqrabawi is no stranger to antisemitic rhetoric, having referred to Israelis as mentally ill Nazis, language that he acknowledged is “hateful.”

“Hail the man leading an industrial-scale slaughter of an occupied, defenseless people!” he wrote in response to an Oct. 25 address from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanayhu. “Zionism is a mental illness.”

“Dear ZioNazis of Israel, particularly those supporting this genocide, I hope you never find peace and comfort in life,” he wrote in December. “I hope the ghosts of our 30,000 killed haunt you until you rot out of existence.”

“Yes, this is hateful language,” he continued.” Don’t expect me to be full of love and professionalism as this holocaust continues to unfold against my deeply oppressed people.”

Three days after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, meanwhile, Aqrabawi compared Israel’s retaliatory war to “Nazism, disguised as Israeli self-defense.” Last month, the MIT faculty member said Hamas members did not rape Israelis on the day of the attack.

“Can you point to a single report/victim?” he wrote. “Not only can you not substantiate your perverted rape fantasies, you won’t allow any third-party investigations of their allegations.” Roughly one month later, a United Nations report confirmed evidence of Hamas terrorists raping Israeli victims.

MIT’s internal deliberations regarding Aqrabawi and other student groups and faculty members may eventually make their way to Foxx and her committee: Foxx’s letter requests internal communications between MIT leaders on the school’s disciplinary decisions, among other records. Should MIT refuse, Foxx’s committee could subpoena the school, as it has done to Harvard University.

“MIT is committed to providing a response to the committee’s questions,” the school said in a Friday statement. “We don’t have any further comment at this time.”