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University of California Merced Defends Antisemitic Professor

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The University of California Merced’s School of Engineering was on Wednesday sticking by one of its professors, Abbas Ghassemi, despite a viciously antisemitic and anti-Zionist Twitter account that he maintained for nearly two years having come to light.

A spokesperson for the school said that Ghassemi, a professor emeritus in its engineering department, had operated the account as a private individual.

“As the now-inactive Twitter account made clear, these were the opinions of a private individual, not the positions of the institution,” James Chiavelli — assistant vice chancellor of external relations at UC Merced — said in a statement.

Ghassemi’s Twitter antics were exposed earlier this week by the J-Weekly, a Jewish news outlet serving northern California.

In one recent post commenting on President-elect Joe Biden’s Nov. 4 victory, Ghassemi tweeted: “Surprise, surprise!! The entire system in America is controlled by Zionist. Change of president is just a surface polish, change of veneer. Same trash different pile!”

Another post on Dec. 13 read, “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.”

Many of the 2,200 tweets posted by Ghassemi since the account was launched in July 2019 referred to Israel with the insulting pejorative “IsraHell,” the J-Weekly reported.

One posting on June 14 included the text “… reality bites!!!!!!” along with an image of a “Zionist brain” with labels such as “frontal money lobe,” “Holocaust memory centre,” “self-pity gland” and “world domination lobe.”

However, Chiavelli, the Merced school’s spokesperson, offered no comment or condemnation of the antisemitic material pushed by Ghassemi on Twitter. He emphasized that the university’s principles include a right to free speech.

“Under our principles of community, UC Merced is committed to ‘uphold the right to freedom of expression and encourage a culture of dialogue, understanding, and civility in all interactions,’” Chiavelli said.

A specialist in environmental engineering, Ghassemi was a keynote speaker at the 2019 agricultural technology summit in Salinas, California. The focus of the summit — sponsored by global media giant Forbes — was the future of food production.