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Fox News
Fox News
17 Nov 2023


The head of a Chicago college is insisting no "single perspective represents the views of the entire university" after Fox News Digital reported on the sociology professors who repeatedly sent mass anti-Israel emails to students and staff. 

Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) Interim President Dr. Katrina Bell-Jordan issued a statement to the entire campus community clarifying its free speech position after Fox News Digital reported that students and staff in the Sociology Department received multiple emails from professors advocating against the Jewish state. 

"Northeastern values community and diversity and as an educated institution, we have a responsibility and commitment to allow our community to express their opinions under the First Amendment even when we may not agree with what is being said," Bell-Jordan wrote to students and staff Thursday night in an email obtained by Fox News Digital. "We must also remember that no single perspective represents the views of the entire University."

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Bell-Jordan continued, "We ask our community to continue to be mindful that many in our NEIU community may be grieving and otherwise struggling with loss and anxiety related to the violence in Gaza and Israel. No words are adequate under these circumstances, and yet, the anguish of tragedy requires that we come together to support and care for one another."

NEIU did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment. 

Dr. Katrina Bell-Jordan

Northeastern Illinois University Interim President Dr. Katrina Bell-Jordan sent an email to students and staff defending free speech after Fox News Digital reported on the anti-Israel emails sent by sociology professors. (Screenshot/Northeastern Illinois University)

Bell-Jordan's campus-wide email came after Fox News Digital first reported the anti-Israel rhetoric coming from NEIU's sociology department. 

Brooke Johnson, an associate professor and sociology department coordinator, appeared to justify the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas by telling sociology students and staff it came "after 75 years of Israeli White supremacy."

"After 75 years of Israeli White supremacy, including displacement, human rights violations, and systemic violence, Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th which resulted in 1400 deaths and 240 hostages," Johnson wrote in a Nov. 8 email obtained by Fox News Digital. "Israel is now collectively punishing Palestinians. The Palestinian death toll from Israeli airstrikes exceeds 10,000, and almost half of these are children. This number increases daily as airstrikes continue; water, food and medical aid are cut off; and demands for a humanitarian cease-fire increase."

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One student who received the email was left "really upset" by what Johnson wrote, calling the accusations she made against Israel, including being guilty of "White supremacy," as "just not true."

"I called my mom and I started crying," the student, who did not wish to be identified, told Fox News Digital. 

NEIU campus

Northeastern Illinois University sociology professor Brooke Johnson justified the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas because of the "75 years of Israeli White supremacy. (Screenshot/Northeastern Illinois University)

Later in the email, after offering several articles she believes would educate her students and colleagues on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Johnson urged them to join the progressive cease-fire movement. 

"What can you do to get involved with demands for a humanitarian cease-fire?" Johnson asked before listing several bullet points which include "Talk with your Sociology professors about resistance movements, settler colonialism, antisemitism, racism, genocide, and sociology," contacting members of Congress, and signing petitions she shared. 

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Johnson, who has a background in focusing on "Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies," also shared a list from Haymarket Books of suggested books to read that includes titles like "Palestine: A Socialist Introduction," "Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights," "Apartheid Israel," "Against Apartheid" and "The Palestine Communist Party." 

Additionally, she urged students and colleagues to join protests and cited several resources to participate in upcoming demonstrations, including a pro-Palestinian publication called "The Electronic Intifada." Historically, what’s called the First Intifada was a deadly series of attacks and protests carried out by Palestinians against Israelis during the 1980s. The Second Intifada occurred in the early 2000s as at least 1,000 Israelis were killed by terrorist attacks carried out by Palestinians using suicide bombers on buses and shooting civilians in the streets, bars and restaurants in cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Palestinian books

Professor Johnson shared a list of suggest books which included titles like "Palestine: A Socialist Introduction," "BDS" and "Apartheid Israel." (Haymarket Books)

Another NEIU sociology professor, Brett Stockdill, similarly sent at least two mass emails on behalf of "NEIU Students, Staff, Faculty and Alumni for Justice in Palestine," urging students and staff in the department to sign an open letter calling for a cease-fire. 

"At a time of such staggering civilian casualties and destruction in Gaza, there is a simultaneous occurrence of unprecedented national and media-driven campaigns aimed at suppressing or stigmatizing voices that advocate for Palestinian human rights. In response, we urge our colleagues and administration to derive inspiration from the core values of Northeastern Illinois University," the open letter reads. "We implore them to leverage their influence in supporting the national and international appeals for an immediate cease-fire and end to Israel's siege on Gaza. Furthermore, we encourage them to champion the protection of our students, staff, and faculty, enabling them to express their support for Palestinian human rights freely and without fear of censorship or intimidation."

It also states "We reject all claims that criticism of Israel is inherently anti-Semitic, and we stand with the many Jewish voices against this ongoing military occupation and killing of civilians." However, the open letter makes no mention of the soaring instances of antisemitism across the country, nor was there any mention of the roughly 240 hostages, up to nine of them Americans, being held captive in Gaza. 

Neither Johnson nor Stockdill responded to Fox News Digital's requests for comment. 

For more Culture, Media, Education, Opinion, and channel coverage, visit foxnews.com/media.

Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to joseph.wulfsohn@fox.com and on Twitter: @JosephWulfsohn.