NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — Professor Andrew Pessin is now on leave from Connecticut College. At the same time controversy blew up over his Facebook posting, his home in Providence literally exploded.
“We immediately smelled the burning so we just picked up them all up and just ran out of the house,” Pessin told ABC-affiliate WLNE in Rhode Island.
The damage from that February gas leak may be easier to fix than concern over Pessin’s August Facebook post justifying Israel’s blockade on Hamas. Many say he compared Gazan Palestinians to “a rabid pit bull chained in a cage, regularly making mass efforts to escape.”
“Israel had the right to defend itself from the violence posed to it as an individual would have the right to defend himself from the violence that would be posed to it from a pit bull,” Pessin said over the phone. “Regrettably that language was inflammatory.”
“He should have known that those words do hurt, and if you wanted to say something different you could have used different words,” said Connecticut College sophomore Luisanny Perez.
In February, a student complained, calling the post racist. Pessin immediately took it down and apologized, explaining how it was about Hamas, not Palestinian people. He also apologized on the student run website The College Voice.
“At this point it feels to me not a matter of assuaging wounded feelings, but a matter of deliberately trying to silence and even threaten pretty much the only Jewish professor on campus who openly advocates for Israel,” said Pessin.
“It’s a conversation we should have had a while ago and he just started it,” said sophomore Emma Anderson. “It was kind of unfortunate for him, but it’s something that should have happened and now it is.”
Connecticut College’s social media policies are now under review.