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Jewish student defies anti-Israel radicals who ‘stalked’ him on California campus: Won’t be ‘silenced’

USC grad student Mark Rayant spoke to Fox News Digital about the antisemitism he's encountered on campus, including allegedly being "stalked" by an agitator.

What was supposed to be a memorable day of taking photos at USC’s historical spots on campus soon spiraled into a Jewish graduate student confronting antisemitism head-on at the prestigious school that’s been rocked by anti-Israel radicals, the student recounted to Fox News Digital. 

“I was walking around my campus to some of the more historic parts to get a good picture, and I was followed. Two individuals from that encampment, they stalked us, and they harassed us. They followed us for a good 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes. Really wanted to come up to us to get in our faces,” graduate student Mark Rayant told Fox News Digital in an interview this month. 

Rayant is graduating with a master’s degree this year, but like his fellow students, will not enjoy a full graduation ceremony due to the anti-Israel agitators that have run rampant on the school. USC was the first major university in the nation to cancel its main graduation ceremony due to radical protesters, which was soon followed by universities such as Emory and Columbia also canceling ceremonies. 


Los Angeles police clad in riot gear flanked the campus this weekend, removing agitators from an anti-Israel encampment, where students and outside protesters demanded the school cut financial ties with Israel. A student-led group called the USC Divest from Death Coalition detailed a list of six demands, including “no policing on campus,” “full amnesty” for those associated with the school who are reprimanded for the protests, and ending study abroad programs in Israel. 

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The removal of the encampment on Sunday was the second time police swept the campus and removed protesters since last month. 

Graduation ceremonies, apart from the main ceremony, kick off this week, with Rayant explaining to Fox News Digital that he and a buddy recently decided to take graduation photos ahead of officially securing their diplomas. 

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“I came to campus to take some graduation photos for my family, you know, for the memories of it. And I came wearing a shirt that I got at one of the Jewish organizations, wearing the dog tags to represent the hostages that are still in captivity, many of them are American citizens,” Rayant said. 

He then noticed a pair of anti-Israel agitators following him as he toured campus, he said. 

“Their attempts are to bully us, to intimidate us, and to instill fear in us, to try to silence us. To try to make us disappear. But they won’t do it,” he continued. 

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Rayant said he took matters into his own hands and confronted the agitators, describing that Jews on campus will not be “silenced” by radicals. 

“I walked up to them. And I said, you know, ‘If you’re going to be brave, if you really want to follow me, why don’t you come and take a picture with me?’ I told them, I wasn’t afraid of them. I wasn’t going to let them intimidate us. Because we deserve to be here too. I’ve worked very hard at this institution, I worked extremely hard to give back to my community, to build organizations that help people in need, and I deserve to celebrate my graduation. Whether these bullies and these aggressors want to intimidate us out of our celebration or not, we deserve that,” he said. 

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The agitators, one of whom Rayant believes is a student, hung around for a little bit after they were confronted, he recounted. The graduate student and his friend then left the area and did not see the agitators again. Rayant said he plans to report the alleged student to campus officials. 

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The engineering grad reflected on the Holocaust during his conversation with Fox News Digital, explaining that though his family members who survived the Holocaust have since passed, he speaks with another survivor amid the campus chaos. 

“I’ve been very blessed as a part of my community to have contact with Holocaust survivors that are still alive today. Unfortunately, my grandparents have now passed. May their memories be a blessing. But I have a Holocaust survivor that I’m in constant contact with,” he said. 

Rayant said his mentor described that he’s never seen anything “on this level,” even when he was sent to Auschwitz. 

“What he told me when I asked him… ‘Have you seen anything like this since you were a little boy, before you were taken to Auschwitz?’ And what he told me was, ‘In my lifetime, even when I was arrested and taken to Auschwitz, I never saw anything on this level. It was not this out in the open, because the Germans knew that Western society around them did not condone that type of behavior. And so they tried to be secretive about it. And they tried to cover it up, and the hatred was there, but it was less noticeable and in your face. This is different. You have people all across the world chanting for death, wishing death upon Jewish people and attacking them openly. You know, it’s on a scale that’s completely unprecedented,'” he continued. 

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Rayant said students have been indoctrinated by “outside forces” with “radical” ideologies that have turned them against American values.  

“These are people with Marxist ideology. They have Marxist values. They want to destroy and undermine, and watch our institutions burn. They want to see America crumble. They don’t like capitalism. They don’t like what America stands for, and they need to be stopped,” he said. 

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USC’s main graduation ceremony began to unravel last month, when a student holding anti-Israel views was chosen as valedictorian, before the school pulled her speech, citing safety concerns. The student, who is Muslim, called for an end to Israel in social media posts and defended her views in a subsequent media interview. 

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“The biggest disappointment was actually hearing from the university that they canceled her, silenced her completely, and then, in essence, scapegoated the Jewish community. And that put a target on the back of every Jewish student at USC. And what came out of that was just an incredible wave of vile antisemitism all across the university. And it really just represented a catastrophic failure of leadership,” Rayant said. 

The main graduation was canceled days later, as protests on campus continued and critics accused the school of “caving to campus terrorists.” The canceled graduation marks the second time Rayant won’t don a cap and gown on stage, as his college graduation was held during the pandemic’s lockdown orders. 

“If you are concerned about this, the way that I’m concerned about this: reach out to your representative, reach out to your congressperson, reach out to your mayor. Write to leaders at your university if you don’t agree with their way of handling this, condemning it. You know, pull your funding if you think that they’ve mishandled the situation. Now’s the time to speak out and show that we have a voice, because I think that these evil people, who are seeking to harass us and to destroy our democracy, I think they’re outnumbered,” Rayant said.

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