Petition to oust pro-Palestine professor for ‘promoting lies and violence’ gains 25,000 signatures in just over a day
The Change.org petition cites professor Zareena Grewal’s social media activity condoning Hamas’s attack on Israel this past weekend. The University has since defended Grewal’s right to free speech.
Ellie Park, Photography Editor
A Tuesday petition calling for Yale to fire professor Zareena Grewal has amassed over 25,000 signatures.
The petition, titled “Remove Zareena Grewal from the Yale Faculty for Promoting LIES and VIOLENCE,” cites a series of tweets by Grewal about the war in Israel and Gaza. At the top of the petition is a screenshot of a tweet that Grewal posted the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7, following militant group Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel and subsequent retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza.
“My heart is in my throat,” the tweet reads. “Prayers for Palestinians. Israel is a murderous, genocidal settler state and Palestinians have every right to resist through armed struggle, solidarity #FreePalestine.”
By 10 p.m., approximately one hour after author Netanel Crispe ’25 posted the petition to change.org, it reached 1,000 signatures; the original signature goal was 500.
The signature count had increased to 10,000 by 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, roughly 13 hours after the petition launched.
“Freedom of Speech cannot be abused,” the petition begins. “And when one is in a position of authority and power, they must be held responsible for that speech. Speech that promotes, advocates, or supports violence, murder, or terrorism cannot and should never be tolerated.”
Grewal — who is a professor of American Studies, of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and of Religious Studies — did not respond to the News’ request for comment. Her account on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, had been made private as of 7 p.m on Wednesday, Oct. 11.
The University defended Grewal’s right to free speech in comments to the News.
Peart did not directly address whether the University intends on taking action or conducting a review.
“Yale is committed to freedom of expression, and the comments posted on Professor Grewal’s personal accounts represent her own views,” University spokesperson Karen Peart told the News.
Grewal is a tenured professor who teaches American Studies, Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and Religious Studies. Her tenured status protects her from firing without direct cause, in the interest of academic freedom, per a previous investigation by the News.
Grewal did not respond to the News’ request for comment. Her account on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, had been made private as of 7 p.m on Wednesday, Oct. 11.
English professor Leslie Brisman said that he is “as saddened by the petition” as he is by Grewal’s tweets.
“What kind of a university would it be if everyone had to see a conflict from one side only?” Brisman asked in an email to the News.
Rabbi Jason Rubenstein, the University’s Jewish Chaplain, said that Grewal’s role as an educator at Yale is particularly important when evaluating her social media activity.
“We would like the Yale administration, while not compromising on freedom of expression and academic freedom, to also respond to these statements as what they are: fundamental challenges to the ethos of belonging at Yale,” Rubenstein wrote to the News. “We would like this professor — and everyone at Yale — to state what should be obvious: that she cherishes and would protect every member of the Yale community, including Jews alongside everyone else.”
Rubenstein added that Hamas has “murdered members of our community,” including Matthew Eisenfeld ’93, who died in a 1996 Hamas bombing in Jerusalem, and Eitan Neeman, a clinical fellow at the School of Medicine who was killed by Hamas fighters this weekend.
The Israeli government formally declared war against Hamas on Sunday, after the group launched a surprise attack Saturday morning. Hamas infiltrated more than 20 sites in southern Israel and killed over 1,000 people, including civilians and children. They are currently holding more than 150 hostages, per the Associated Press.
University President Peter Salovey condemned Hamas’s attacks on Israeli civilians in a public statement on Tuesday, as Peart also noted.
“When a member of the Yale community – faculty or student – raises their voice in support of Hamas, we think not of geopolitics, but of the fact that this person is advocating for an organization that not only has stated its intention to kill members of our community, but has done so,” Rubenstein told the News.
The News reached out to 23 current and former members of Yale’s faculty, seven of whom belong to one of Grewal’s departments, to comment. Of the seven, six did not respond and one declined to comment.
Grewal is currently teaching a Yale College seminar called “Muslims in the United States.”
Correction, Oct. 12: This article has been amended to clarify that comments from the University spokesperson reflect a general view of the University.
Update, Oct. 12: A previous version of this story did not specify that Grewal is a tenured faculty member; it has been updated to note that tenured status prevents the University from firing a faculty member without direct cause. The piece has also been updated to offer context on the News’ sourcing process for this article.
Correction, Oct. 12: The description of the killings of civilians in Israel and Gaza has been updated to ensure the article consistently uses active voice.