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U of Arizona Professor Is Dead Because Antisemitic Threats Weren’t Taken Seriously Enough

The danger an antisemitic student posed to UA professors was known and reported

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Murad Dervish (left) trespassed onto the University of Arizona campus and murdered Thomas Meixner (right), who he had been making antisemitic threats about even though his victim as not actually Jewish. Armed with a handgun, Dervish fled after the shooting but was apprehended about 3 hours later 120 miles west, near Gila Bend. (Image: lawandcrime.com)

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On Oct. 5 Murad Dervish, a graduate student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, walked into a professor’s office and shot to death the professor after making numerous antisemitic threats against his life. The threats were previously known and reported, but not enough was done to avoid yet another deadly campus shooting. 

Professor Thomas Meixner lost his life because antisemitism is not being taken seriously enough. What is both ironic and tragic is that Professor Meixner was not Jewish. Rather, he was targeted because the gunman was convinced Meixner was Jewish – this was enough.

Many of the threats were made via text messages, although they were sent to a different professor, Eyad Atallah. In them, Dervish wished death to all Jews and accused Meixner of orchestrating a Jewish-led conspiracy against him. Dervish repeatedly made antisemitic comments to Atallah, including “You’re absolutely either a k— or doing their bidding.” He noted: “As Arabs we’re supposed to stick together … instead you’re a filthy k— lover.”

He told Atallah, “I hope somebody blows your (expletive) brains out.” 

Professor spoke up, but not enough was done

Too often reported violent antisemitic threats like these are dismissed as a biproduct of poor mental health and are not treated with necessary precautions.

After the murder, the University of Arizona police chief said, “If you see something, don’t just say something but do something. If you know somebody is struggling with mental health or anger issues, reach out.” 

Atallah did see something and did do something. He alerted school officials and the school police department about the texts he was getting from Dervish. Atallha also feared for his own life based on Dervish’s texts, which led him to buy a bulletproof vest, install an alarm system at his home and spend less time on campus. 

The university, to its credit, expelled Dervish and barred him from campus. But more could and should have been done to prevent a senseless murder.

Dervish should have never been allowed to have a gun or allowed to enter a campus building. He should have been criminally charged with the threats he made.

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It wasn’t enough to ban Dervish from campus

The University of Arizona and its campus security could have taken more concrete steps to protect their faculty and students. It was not enough to expel him and ban him from campus. Active efforts should have been taken to keep him off campus. That includes:

  • more aggressively pursuing criminal charges against Dervish.
  • actually, warning Meixner and Atallah about the threat posed by Dervish.
  • working with them on their security and implementing security procedures to prevent unauthorized individuals – such as Dervish – from just walking into buildings where targeted individuals worked.

Dervish should also never have had access to a gun. He has been previously convicted of crimes and had spent time in prison. He wished death to all Jews. He wanted to see his professors’ heads blown off. An individual like this should not be able to purchase or carry a firearm.

Serious threats deserve serious actions

Perhaps the most disturbing disregard for antisemitic threats in this case was the decision by the Pima County Attorney’s Office to not pursue threat and intimidation charges against Dervish that were brought to them before the murder.

According to the office, the case against Dervish “did not rise to that level.” And the county attorney noted in a statement that the facts did not “meet the evidentiary requirements for charging him with the crime of Threats and Intimidation.”

This after Dervish wrote in an email to school officials that if they didn’t help him, “I promise the consequences will be absolutely catastrophic” and after he texted, “I hope somebody blows your (expletive) brains out.” 

It is costing innocent lives that the threat level of “death to all Jews” and “I hope someone blows your brains out” is not serious enough to pursue legal and protective action. 

These are the reasons the Secure Community Network exists. We protect the Jewish community by identifying threats, monitoring them and closely working with law enforcement to be certain the proper protections are in place. 

The killing of Thomas Meixner is a stark reminder of what happens when serious antisemitic threats aren’t met with serious actions.

(This article originally appeared in the Arizona Republic https://www.azcentral.com/ and is reprinted with permission.)

Michael Masters is national director and CEO of the Secure Community Network, the official safety and security organization for the Jewish community in North America. Reach him at DutyDesk@SecureCommunityNetwork.org

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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