February 2020


Her article about the student's ordeal is published in the American Thinker, and reprinted here:

February 16, 2020

Criminalizing Dissent

By Karen D. Hurvitz and Ilya I. Feoktistov

Louis Shenker, a 21-year-old junior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst,  just wanted his MAGA hat back from the graduate student who ripped it off his head on campus. He wore the hat to a December 6, 2018 protest organized by the university’s graduate student union against Trump and local police. Video shows that when Louis, who is 5’6’’ and 140 pounds, arrived wearing the MAGA hat and holding a large sign, he was immediately surrounded by a hostile mob of older grad students cursing at him and calling him a white supremacist. A woman lunged from the mob and snatched Louis’s MAGA hat. Careful not to get caught on camera hitting Louis with their hands, they instead mobbed him like a colony of enraged penguins, using their bodies to push him from all sides, occasionally pecking at his head with their cardboard signs, and chanting in unison: “THE PEOPLE, UNITED, WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED.”

“Get the f**k out of here, you shouldn’t be in an anti-racist march!” screamed the hat thief. A soft-spoken professor in the crowd warned Louis: “It’s actually dangerous for you to come by yourself like that.” As the protesters began to march and Louis tried to keep up while pleading for his hat, many of them, including several graduate student union members dressed in United Auto Workers gear, elbowed Louis into walls, lampposts, and other obstacles. “You act like a Nazi, you’re going to get treated like a Nazi,” a female protester yelled at the Jewish grandson of Holocaust victims.  Louis left without his hat.

A month later, Louis was horrified to recognize the woman who stole his MAGA hat as Beth Peller, a 36-year-old grad student who would be teaching his mandatory freshman writing class. Louis could not change his schedule, so he shaved his head and mustache, prayed that she would not recognize him, and wrote the essays she assigned with the correct leftist opinions she all but demanded. Beth regaled her students with war stories about her time organizing violent anarchist movements, but never recognized the seemingly complaisant student as her victim from the protest. Louis got an A.

On November 12, 2019, Louis found himself sitting behind Beth Peller at an anti-Israel event, called Criminalizing Dissent, organized by the head of his university’s communications department, Professor Sut Jhally. Featuring Linda Sarsour and terrorism supporter Omar Barghouti, who was skyped in from Ramallah, the event promoted the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The university’s chancellor criticized the conference, warning that it “could very well alienate many of our Jewish students,” but did nothing to stop it.

A proud Zionist Jew, Louis let university police know that he planned to challenge the speakers at an appropriate moment. Just before he stood up in protest, he put on his new “Keep America Great” hat, and Beth, who had been smiling at him until then, looked at him with the shock of realization. He told her he knew who she was -- that she was the person who had stolen his MAGA hat, and that he still wants it back. He made his brief protest, thanked the police for letting him do it, and left.

Louis soon learned that he had poked an entire hive of leftists at Amherst and the surrounding Hampshire County. With help from two lawyers, one of whom is active with the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace, Beth filed a sworn affidavit in district court in Northampton, MA. The affidavit falsely alleged that Louis is a “self-avowed white nationalist who “intended to inflame violence” against her; that Louis was “whispering threats in [her] ear” at the BDS event; and that Louis had “talked about guns and decapitating small animals with his hands” while in her class. Based on these fantasies, a judge issued an Abuse and Harassment Prevention Order against Louis, which directed him not to contact her. It was served on Louis that night, while he was having Shabbat dinner at his synagogue.

Louis took to Twitter to complain about what happened to him, and Peller immediately went to the Northampton Police Department (NPD) to file another false affidavit alleging that Louis had threatened her life on Twitter. NPD self-identifies as a “progressive” police agency and Peller’s attorneys, who practice criminal law in Northampton, have a lot of influence there. Although the tweets that Peller showed the Northampton cops were not directed at her and did not contain any violent threats, the police filed a criminal complaint against Louis for violating the order anyway. He was arrested in the parking lot of his synagogue, spent two nights in jail, and was released under a gag order forbidding him to post about Beth, the order, or UMass on social media.

The court imposed no gag on Beth and her supporters. And so when Louis returned to school, he found the campus plastered with 200-300 posters of his face framed by big block letters: “ALERT! WHITE SUPREMACIST LOUIS SHENKER.” UMass Amherst social media were buzzing with photos of the posters taken at various places around the campus. “[W]atch out for this pussy ass b*tch,” read one caption on Snapchat, “if you see him smack the dogsh*t out him.” Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the tires on Louis’s car got slashed the night before his first court date, making him late.

The incitement against Louis continued. An attorney for Beth Peller drafted an online petition that called on the UMass Amherst administration “to take protective action to protect the campus from Shenker -- including expulsion and a no-trespass order.” The petition remains open. To date, 480 professors from across the country, including Cornel West and Judith Butler and at least ten professors from Louis’s own university, together with prominent BDS activists like Linda Sarsour and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, have signed on to the Soviet-style denunciation. So have at least 645 “students, workers, and staff” at UMass and other schools.  

Meanwhile, according to Beth Peller, Northampton police were trying to have Louis rearrested on stalking charges, so that he could be jailed as a dangerous person pending trial. By this time, we had the order against Louis vacated for lack of evidence, but the local district attorney’s office insisted on prosecuting Louis for the alleged violation anyway. Before we also got this charge dismissed for lack of probable cause, the government tried three times to have Louis’s bail revoked. Within minutes of the order’s being vacated, however, Peller’s attorney applied for another one on the same basis. That application was denied, as was a third attempt, supported by a fifth fabricated affidavit. Peller’s lawyers also filed an application for a criminal stalking complaint against Louis, which was similarly denied for lack of probable cause.

Beth Peller has just filed an appeal against Louis. She has also contacted the FBI, which is seeking to interview him about the matter. Meanwhile, Louis has been forced off campus by violent threats, could not take his exams, and will not be able to attend classes this term. He has been constructively expelled and deprived of his education.

In its policy against discrimination and harassment, UMass Amherst talks a big game about protecting its students’ rights to free speech. Any student or teacher “who acts to deny, deprive or limit the educational, employment, residential and/or social access, benefits, and/or opportunities of any member of the campus community” due to “political belief or affiliation” will be disciplined. “When brought to the attention of the University, the University will take actions appropriately to respond to, stop, remedy, and prevent the reoccurrence of any such discrimination.”

UMass Amherst has broken this promise to Louis. We have repeatedly filed grievances on his behalf against Peller and her co-actors and have been met with stony silence. Instead, Louis has been notified that the university is investigating another complaint -- by Peller against him.

Louis’ ordeal is a glimpse of the far left’s “cancel culture” as it pushes the Overton Window on free speech from Twitter bans to outright criminalization of dissent. We believe that more malicious prosecutions like Louis’s are likely; brought, at first, in progressive enclaves like Northampton where the far left holds real political power. Much as occurred in the Jim Crow South, authorities in such places are increasingly choosing to enforce their political ideology instead of the rule of law entrusted to them. The American left these days is unable to accept defeat under fair rules of play, whether in elections or in judicial proceedings. To avoid defeat, leftists will continue searching for ways to criminalize dissent. Indeed, Beth Peller’s attorney argued to the court in Northampton that defamation and offensive speech can and should be criminalized. This is a dangerous trend, and is becoming one of the major civil rights issues of our time.

Attorneys Karen D. Hurvitz and Ilya I. Feoktistov represent Louis Shenker. Attorney Hurvitz devotes her practice to fighting anti-Semitism in K-12 and higher education. Attorney Feoktistov is the Executive Director of Americans for Peace and Tolerance.


November 2019


Karen Hurvitz, our attorney, who taught law at Boston University Law School, and has researched Ihmoud’s articles and organized a response, has written an accurate assessment of the situation in a letter to the Boston University's president:

Dear President Brown, 

In these times of rising anti-Semitism, I have just learned that Boston University is considering appointing Sarah Ihmoud, a terrible anti-Semite to a tenure track position in its sociology department. I understand that letters of concern and alarm submitted to the president, provost, and others have been met with a “none of your business” type of response, together with assurances that the process is being handled “based on peer evaluation of a candidate’s scholarly and professional achievements within the appropriate discipline and according to established disciplinary criteria… consistent with our established criteria and processes.”  The quote is from a form letter being sent out by President Brown. 
In point of fact, I have learned from colleagues on the law school faculty, where I taught in the BU Defenders Program, that nothing about this potential hire is being handled in accordance with established criteria and processes. The hire is being considered as an accommodation to a recent law faculty hire — Ihmoud is his wife. The position was not advertised, and there was no applicant pool, as required by BU’s established — and written — practices and processes.
What is worse is that her “scholarly” achievements are works based on viciously defamatory and easily refuted assertions about Israel. For instance, she writes in In the Absence of Justice, a report she co-authored with Shaloub-Kevorkian, another rabid anti-Semite who claims that Israelis sell Palestinian body parts, do medical experiments and test weapons on Palestinian children — see http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/23511, that

Existing studies on gendered aspects of military occupation in East Jerusalem reveal that even in times of death, women are stripped of dignity and security, and their safe burial is jeopardized by the militarized regime (Shalhoub-Kevorkian 2013). Women are prevented from safely reaching health professionals and finding a safe place to give birth, and face humiliation in Israeli hospitals during treatment, operations, giving birth, miscarriages and more (ibid.). Gendered violence was also apparent when examining the effects of surveillance over women, mainly in relation to the immense security devices and cameras in and around homes, schools and streets (Shalhoub-Kevorkian, 2015). Sexual and psychological abuse and harassment of women at checkpoints, by Israeli soldiers was also another factor affecting women. harassment by Israeli soldiers, including being made to undress when crossing checkpoints, was found to have increased women’s sense of loss of their bodily integrity and added to their humiliation and oppression (ibid., p. 63).
                                     In the Absence of Justice, Embodiment and the Politics of Militarized Dismemberment in                                        Occupied East Jerusalem, Ihmoud and Shaloub Kevorkian, 2016

What should be apparent to anyone — not just a sociology professor — is that she and her co-author are citing themselves! Not only is this echo-chamber readily apparent, the “research” on which it relies is unverifiable because it is based  on interviews with Palestinian women whom the researchers refuse to name, citing vague security concerns (and adding to the idea that no one is safe from Israelis).  In fact, as the article at the website I provide above points out, these assertions are false. Her other articles  contain similar outrageous propaganda.

Boston University has strict policies on academic integrity. Boston University is actually holding a workshop on Academic Honesty today! Take a look:

"This interactive workshop explores the importance of academic integrity in higher education, and addresses the following important questions: What is academic integrity? Why is academic integrity important? What are some of the values associated with academic integrity? Why is integrity important in the realm of higher education? How does the concept of academic integrity transition into environments outside of higher education?"

1:00pm on Thursday, November 7th, 2019
100 Bay State Road, Room 545A

Boston University is also a member of the International Center for Academic Integrity
But all these standards and workshops mean nothing if Boston University is considering hiring Sarah Ihmoud. If Boston University expects its students to have academic integrity, it must demand the  same of its faculty. If Boston University wants to have good standing in the  community of  scholars, it must enforce rules of scholarly integrity. Please don’t make this shameful hire.
Karen Hurvitz

David Gerstman, of the Jewish News Syndicate, has just published an article which examines many of her articles; he concludes that they  "reveal a pattern of false, anti-Israel claims that, if not as vitriolic as that found in Jadaliyya, nevertheless confirm her as a politicized, biased scholar who consistently distorts sources and history to fit her views."  We have sent the President this article.

The Dept. of Sociology at BU has rejected Ihmoud, but the Dept. of Anthropolgy has yet to decide.  We will update as developments occur.

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