UC Davis Professor Faces Backlash for Threatening Zionist Journalists
A transgender assistant professor of American Studies at the University of California-Davis, Jemma Decristo, is facing condemnation and backlash for posting threats against Zionist journalists and their children online. Decristo identifies as a black lesbian “tranarchist” and made these threats on a social media platform.
Decristo specifically targeted Zionist journalists, stating that they “spread propaganda & misinformation.” Decristo went on to mention their home addresses and the fact that they have children. The threatening language was accompanied by emojis representing violent weapons and blood. This sparked outrage and concern among many who saw the posts. Following the backlash, Decristo made his social media profile private.
In response to the controversy, UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May released a statement condemning Decristo’s posts. He described the comments as “revolting” and expressed his strong disagreement with them. Chancellor May emphasized the university’s commitment to rejecting all forms of violence and discrimination, highlighting the importance of fostering a climate of equity and justice built on mutual understanding and respect.
Chancellor May also stated that the incident would be investigated internally. He mentioned that the provost would refer the matter to the appropriate campus departments responsible for investigating harassment, discrimination, and faculty conduct, with legal counsel’s involvement regarding First Amendment rights. However, it was not clarified whether Decristo would face termination, and May mentioned that complaints against faculty members were confidential personnel matters.
Decristo’s controversial posts are not isolated incidents. They follow the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, which led to a series of pro-Hamas statements from university faculty members. Cornell University professor Russell Rickford went on a pro-Hamas tirade, describing the attacks as “energizing” and stating that “Hamas has changed the terms of debate.”
Yale professor Zareena Grewal also faced backlash for justifying the terror attacks on Israel, garnering over 50,000 signatures on a petition to remove her from her faculty position. Another petition targeted a Columbia University professor, Joseph Massad, who referred to the Hamas attacks as an “awesome stunning victory.”
These incidents have sparked debates about free speech, academic freedom, and the boundaries of expressing personal opinions, especially when they involve support or sympathy for groups considered terrorist organizations by governments worldwide. Decristo’s threats against journalists and their children are the latest in a series of contentious statements made by university faculty regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The university is now reviewing the matter to ensure its response aligns with universitywide policy and respects state and federal constitutional protections for free speech. It remains to be seen how this situation will be resolved and whether further actions will be taken regarding Decristo’s employment and the broader issue of faculty members expressing controversial viewpoints.