GSU Alumni Assoc. under fire for planning to honor attorney criticized for online comments

ATLANTA — Nearly a dozen local and national Jewish groups are expressing concern over Georgia State University’s decision to honor an alumnus accused of using his social media pages to voice his antisemitic views about the Israel-Hamas war.

Atlanta attorney Scott Grubman told Channel 2′s Michael Seiden that he was offended after learning that GSU’s alumni association had included Ali Awad in its latest “40 Under 40″ awards program.

The program, which recognizes and celebrates the most influential and impactful graduates who embody the institution’s values, is planning on holding a ceremony at the convocation center next month.

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Grubman has called on GSU president Brian Blake to rescind the award amid the social media posts.

“When will you act? When will you respond and when will you do the right thing and rescind this award?” asked Grubman on Wednesday.

“I definitely do not think you need to be Jewish to understand the problem here,” he added.

In a statement provided to Channel 2 Action News, Awad stood by his words.

“As a graduate of Georgia State University Law School and a Palestinian-American attorney, I am compelled to speak up against injustice wherever I see it,” he wrote. “That includes the gross injustice the Israeli government is perpetrating against the Palestinian people in Gaza, where dozens of my own relatives were murdered months ago. I make no apologies for condemning the Gaza genocide and I will continue to do so.”

“The attacks that anti-Palestinian groups have launched against me are dishonest and defamatory; I reject all forms of bigotry, including antisemitism, and I have never said anything remotely critical of the Jewish community. My issue is with the Israeli government and those who enable its injustice,” he added.

On Wednesday afternoon, Awad and members of the Georgia chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations addressed the allegations against him during a virtual news conference.

The group claimed that Awad’s post had been taken out of context.

Awad added that he was using common anti-Palestinian tropes that people had expressed during the war and replaced the word “Palestinian” with “Israeli”.

“I’m of Palestinian descent,” he said. “I’m a proud Muslim and I love the Jewish people.”

“I have never said anything negative about the Jewish people and I will never say anything negative about the Jewish people because I don’t believe that,” he added.


A university spokesperson issued the following statement:

“As soon as the President received this letter, he shared it and other correspondence with the selection committee for their review. The committee is evaluating this issue and will be making a recommendation to the Alumni Association.”

Awad also added that he’s the victim of a smear campaign and loves Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people.

A spokesperson for the university told Channel 2 Action News that the selection committee was not aware of Awad’s social media presence when it reviewed nominations in November.

Grubman, a GSU alumnus and adjunct professor who teaches at the law school, said he has heard from a number of Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, as well as, lawmakers who were offended by Awad’s posts.

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