Tag Archive for: Murad Dervish

University of Arizona: Muslim killed prof he thought was Jewish, antisemitic aspects of killing were downplayed

In this article about how the antisemitic aspects of the killing were denied or downplayed, the far-Left Forward doesn’t dare consider the question of what made Murad Dervish so violently antisemitic. That kind of investigation might end up being “Islamophobic.” Can’t have that.

Did everyone miss an antisemitic campus murder?

by Arno Rosenfeld, Forward, February 15, 2023:

Here are some facts. On Yom Kippur, a former University of Arizona graduate student named Murad Dervish stormed into the earth sciences building on campus. Dervish believed Thomas Meixner, the hydrology department head, was leading a Jewish conspiracy against him. “Kikes should not be allowed to exist anywhere, ever,” Dervish had previously told one faculty member. Dervish allegedly shot and killed Meixner. It was the only such murder in 2022, a year full of antisemitism. It escaped widespread attention until after Thanksgiving.

But there are other facts, too. Meixner wasn’t Jewish. Dervish’s original grievance was over a bad grade. The 46-year-old had a long history of violence, including against his parents, and scared some faculty to the point they had avoided campus. His antisemitism didn’t become public until weeks after the murder, when it was revealed alongside a tirade against Asians. And the national spotlight that Jewish groups eventually shined on the Tucson school? Some local Jews say it made things worse.

Many outside the region came to see the murder of Meixner, a beloved teacher and father of four, as a blatant act of antisemitism. It landed on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of worst antisemitic incidents of the year, and was widely covered by Jewish media in the United States and Israel. It required — and received — a Jewish response. Yet many Jews on campus saw something more layered and grew frustrated when outsiders began to publicize the case without acknowledging its complexity.

Abigail Simon, a Jewish engineering student, noted that the story went national at a time when Jews are increasingly nervous about antisemitism on campus, and surmised that they might draw conclusions about fresh incidents without much thought.

“I hate to make it seem like people were jumping on a bandwagon,” Simon said. “But I think it was just another drop in the bucket that, ‘Oh, there was a murder on campus,’ and, ‘Oh, the shooter was antisemitic.’”

Though Dervish’s antisemitism, and the location of the shooting, across the street from Hillel, prompted a rapid and thorough response from Tuscon’s Jewish community, their efforts drew little attention as the news of the murder spread. Local Jews also understood that the part of the tragedy that most upset faculty and students was that Meixner and others had repeatedly warned school officials that Dervish posed a threat and they had failed to act. Focusing on antisemitism, some feared, might overstate the role it played in Meixner’s death, and present Jews as more endangered than they actually were.

Outside Jewish groups that tried to draw attention to the case countered that there was nothing subtle about Dervish’s bigotry — no matter what role other factors played in his violence — and point out that antisemitism can operate in strange ways: Its victims often aren’t Jewish.

A grand jury indicted Dervish on seven charges, including first-degree murder, in October. Dervish has pleaded not guilty and his trial is scheduled for September. Judge Howard Fell declined his attorney’s request to ban media from the courtroom.

“Justice grows the best in the full light of day,” Fell said.

A murder, and a revelation
When the shooting first took place, Simon and other students gathered at the campus Hillel for High Holiday programming only knew that something very bad had happened. The scream of police sirens had interrupted a text study. And, a different student recalled, what seemed like the entire campus police department came to a screeching halt outside the academic building across the street.

It turned out that the police had responded too late, allowing Dervish to escape. Hillel went into lockdown. Simon remembered feeling grateful that Hillel had hired armed security guards for the High Holidays. Everyone gathered in the lounge. “We were all sitting in this one room trying to act like things were normal, but obviously nothing was,” said Jordyn Morris, another student present that day.

Dervish was arrested several hours later on a highway outside of Tucson with knives, machetes, guns and extra ammunition. Another bombshell would come two weeks later, when a local newspaper columnist published an interview with Eyad Atallah, a lecturer in the hydrology department, who — the headline said — “prepared to be shot on campus and barely avoided it.”

Tim Steller, the Arizona Daily Star columnist, revealed that Atallah and other faculty members had been hounded for months by Dervish, who was convinced that a bad grade he received was the result of a Jewish conspiracy against him.

“As Arabs we’re supposed to stick together and I trusted you, and instead you’re a filthy kike lover,” Dervish had texted Atallah last winter.

It wasn’t the point of his article, but based on those messages, Steller was the first to suggest that Meixner’s murder was driven by bigotry against Jews. “Although Meixner was Catholic, his killing could be considered an antisemitic attack,” Steller wrote on Oct. 22.

The column emphasized that university officials were aware of the threats. They had expelled Dervish and banned him from campus, but he kept returning with impunity. And nobody thought to tell Jewish leaders on campus, or in Tucson, that a man who had menaced faculty — to the point several had started working from home out of fear — was blaming his problems on Jews.

After the column was published, Jessica McCormick, director of the campus Hillel, emailed Robert Robbins, the university president. Why, McCormick asked, had the administration failed to notify Hillel of Dervish’s antisemitic comments? Why hadn’t law enforcement protected the Hillel building while Dervish was on the loose? Why hadn’t any school officials reached out after the shooting?…

Dervish had been a volatile presence on campus since he enrolled at the school in the fall of 2021. He screamed obscenities at a professor in the middle of class, and after he lost his graduate assistant teaching job as a result, he sent threats that terrified hydrology faculty so much that they moved classes to Zoom. Expelled and banned from campus last February, he kept coming back, and accosted a professor at a nearby CVS. Dervish threatened an employee at the dean’s office: “I don’t think you have any clue who you are dealing with but you are about to find out and I really don’t think you’re going to like it,” he wrote. Meanwhile, he was sexually harassing a female undergraduate student — the same thing he was accused of in San Diego — contacting her more than 30 times….

AUTHOR

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