• September 4, 2015

Portland State Investigates a Professor Who Accused a Student of FBI Ties

Portland State University is investigating a tenured professor of economics who is reported to have accused a student during class of being an FBI informant and selling weapons to other members of the class.

Students in the class say the professor, John B. Hall, stopped teaching in the middle of a lecture on January 14.

According to their accounts, Mr. Hall said an FBI informant was in the room and pointed at one of their classmates, Zaki Bucharest.

Mr. Hall then went on to say that Mr. Bucharest had served as a sniper in the Israeli army, tried to sell weapons to members of the class, and worked with the FBI, among other claims, the students said. Mr. Hall also showed students a letter he had written to the FBI.

"His voice was in a totally normal tone," said Brett Condron, a student in the class. "It was just like he was lecturing on."

Students say Mr. Bucharest, who is chief of staff for the university's student government, stayed silent while the professor talked. When Mr. Hall finished speaking, Mr. Bucharest stood and told the class that it was true that he had been a sniper in the Israeli army, but that Mr. Hall was wrong about other things. He then left.

"I expected that Zak was in on the joke and would scream, 'Psych,'" said another student, Jeremy Veysseire.

Mr. Hall could not be reached by phone or e-mail for comment on Thursday.

In a letter to the university's student-run newspaper, the Vanguard, Mr. Hall wrote that, based upon his students' reports, "I cannot help but to think that the process currently is being shaped in order to end my tenure at PSU."

"I decided to take a stand," he said in the letter. "I observed the situation becoming extremely dangerous, not only for me but for about eight of my very finest students. I felt that what I had to do should not have been my responsibility."

A university spokesman, Scott Gallagher, said a student has filed a complaint against Mr. Hall, but the spokesman could not give any details. He said Mr. Hall has been relieved of his teaching duties and an investigation is under way; no disciplinary action has been taken so far.

The university said it had no record of any complaints being filed about Mr. Bucharest.

A new professor has been brought in to teach Mr. Hall's class, and students have been encouraged to go to the university's office of public safety if they have any concerns about their well-being.

Mr. Bucharest's lawyer, Elden Rosenthal, declined to comment beyond issuing a statement in which his client stated: "I have never been affiliated with the FBI in any way, and I have never been an informant. I have never in any way done anything to incite violence at PSU. I have admired Professor Hall since I first took a class from him and cannot imagine what I did or said to cause him to treat me the way he did."

The Vanguard first reported the story on Wednesday. Its Web site crashed at one point because of high traffic the story drew, said Sarah J. Christensen, the editor in chief.

"It's just a very confusing situation," Ms. Christensen said. "I think that's what's so interesting. It's a whodunit."


1. amnirov - February 05, 2010 at 07:20 am

It sounds like the professor might be ill and probably needs to have a CAT scan or something. No offense to anyone, but it reminds me of my father's mother's sudden inexplicable behavior due to a tumor.

2. panacea - February 05, 2010 at 07:24 am

He may also be mentally ill. Grandiose delusions such as this are often associated with Bipolar Disorder and Schitzophrenia.

But the CT would be the first step in evaluating a possible medical cause. It certainly sounds like something is wrong with Mr. Hall rather than him being simply a jerk.

3. fredd3 - February 05, 2010 at 07:56 am


4. fredd3 - February 05, 2010 at 07:57 am

Or who knows the "student" a former sniper might have worked with the FBI and if so what is the issue. And if so and the professor knew about the arms training and real or claimed association with the home and security why not tell the class? Does that mean that the other students would have nailed him to a cross?
What if it is true and there was anoother campus shooting who would be at fault? PSU is not known for being on target....

5. physicsprof - February 05, 2010 at 08:14 am

You are not paranoid if they really are out to get you...

6. dank48 - February 05, 2010 at 08:46 am

Just because they're out to get you doesn't mean you aren't paranoid. It seems to me comments 1 and 2 are on the right track; it really sounds as if this may be an occasion for compassion not outrage.

7. raza_khan - February 05, 2010 at 08:56 am

How come any one is no longer curious? Here is an interesting question. How on Earth did the professor find that the student was a sniper in Israeli Army? An economics professor usually do not read so much in to the details of every single solider and that of even an another foreign country!

If the student had informed him, what was the intent of sharing of such information.

Curiosity means that you take a deep breath and try to look at from all the angles.

8. ethan56 - February 05, 2010 at 09:18 am

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9. octoprof - February 05, 2010 at 09:40 am

Even if I knew a student of mine had been a sniper in the Army (US or otherwise), I can't imagine any useful pedagogical reason for talking about it in class.

10. ethan56 - February 05, 2010 at 09:45 am

The prof was primarily warning his "best students" that this guy was an FBI agent--an FBI agent who might be entrapping them by selling them guns. Just who are these "best students" of Prof. Jones who would be interested in buying guns? Doesn't that strike people as..odd?

11. physicsprof - February 05, 2010 at 10:33 am

raza_khan: one plausible explanation is that the professor was sttting on some scholarship committees that routinely read students CVs.

ethan56: imagine your daughter is being offered a path to becoming a prostitute or your son is approached about buying drugs. Would you be equally willing to dismiss such information and operate under the premise that only dubious characters could be endangered by such offers?

There is too litle information about the case to start flexing your brains.

12. mlevendusky - February 05, 2010 at 10:37 am

The whole thing is odd. The professor really does sound like he would benefit from a medical evaluation.

13. eelalien - February 05, 2010 at 10:52 am

Just for a moment, let's not make that gigantic leap of assumption that the professor is ill, mentally or otherwise. So next we have to ask, if this concern was raised by his students to him (i.e., the guy attempting to sell them weapons), why wouldn't the prof. take this info up to the university administration, instead of casually informing his students? But if he DID inform his higher ups, and nothing was done, then that may explain his actions (and also explain his statement that "the process currently is being shaped in order to end my tenure at PSU"). There is simply not enough information on this matter to form a coherent, informed opinion.

14. ethan56 - February 05, 2010 at 11:16 am

eelalien, you are basically correct that the Chron does not give us enough information. But more is available from the student newspaper.

This includes the following: Hall, as he entered the second hour of a normal class on "comparative economic systems", began rambling about his being under police surveillance throughout his life, and then he not only called the student an FBI agent, and said he was an israeli sniper, but also said that he was (and I quote from the student newspaper) "a killer with access to a personal arsenal." There is no excuse for saying THAT about a student in open in front of a class, it seems to me.

Hall then put a letter he had written to the FBI on the document projector in class; in the letter he accuses the student of being an FBI agent, and indicates that he knows his code-name; after doing this, he gave the letter to the student and told him to "give it to his superiors." There is no excuse for doing that.

Hall then told the student to leave, and not come back to Portland State University. There is no excuse for doing that.

One also wonders what was the relevance of Prof. Hall announcing that the student had served in the Israeli army.

eelalein, you raise a good point about whether the prof took this issue to the administration before his outburst in class. If he did, and the administration did nothing, then his outburst in class and direct humiliation of a studen is still indefensible but something strange might well also be going on. But if Hall did take it to the administration, it is odd that he does not mention this fact in his own defense, don't you think?

So: I've given folks here some direct and additional information from the Feb. 3 PSU "Vanguard". I fear the conclusion here is obvious, and tragic.

15. johntoradze - February 05, 2010 at 11:32 am

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16. dank48 - February 05, 2010 at 11:58 am

I don't understand the relevance of Professor Hall's politics, one way or the other.

17. ethan56 - February 05, 2010 at 12:12 pm

dank48: the relevance is this: it's the reference to Zak B as not just an "FBI agent" but specifically an Israeli sniper and "killer". This "killer" stuff may be evidence of Hall's clinical paranoia, but it isn't a generalized paranoia: it's specific. And it's political.

And Hall's concern specifically for "eight of his best students" who might be interested in buying weapons--which eight might these be? I think that is where Johntoradze is coming from (though I think he is guessing).

18. budlevin - February 05, 2010 at 01:13 pm

re: "The prof was primarily warning his "best students" that this guy was an FBI agent--an FBI agent who might be entrapping them by selling them guns. Just who are these "best students" of Prof. Jones who would be interested in buying guns? Doesn't that strike people as..odd?"

not where i come from. people, including my students, buy and sell guns all the time. i haven't bought or sold one myself for several weeks, though.

19. ethan56 - February 05, 2010 at 01:24 pm

budlevin, Professor Hall was warning "eight of his best students" that they were going to be entrapped by an Israeli FBI agent. It's not hard to suspect a certain political stance here--though that's a guess. What we really now know, though, is how savagely inappropriate Hall's behavior actually was towards the student Zak B (see no. 17 above for the details).

Moreover, I don't think that Hall was warning his "eight outstanding students" about legal weapons-sales (since what would be the point of warning them if that were the case?). That's an especially interesting situation if "where I come from, people, including my students, buy and sell guns all the time."

20. writerman13 - February 05, 2010 at 02:19 pm

Whether this guy is nuts in not necessarily, in my opinion, the central issue. The central issue is that Jewish Americans can hold dual citizenship and fight in the Israeli army, which has long been accused of war crimes, and then come back to the United States and matriculate at our schools. Clearly, this dual citizenship practice should end, and American Jews, if they want to go to Israel and fight, should do so, but not as American citizens. This is what is really nuts! If America stops letting Israel and her supporters dictate our foreign policy in the Middle East, we will have a whole lot fewer people that hate us, a lot more money in the treasury, and we won't be in the middle of one war and cranking up another one. That is beyond nuts! Now, having said that, I want to know a little bit more about this guy before I either praise or condemn him. Does seem like very odd behavior, unless, like Nikki Giovanni at Virginia Tech, where she did everything possible to remove a dangerous student from class and nothing was done, he was in the same position. We all saw how well that ended.

21. writerman13 - February 05, 2010 at 02:29 pm

When I read comments like, "They have bought into the Israel is evil line, and they just don't "understand" the history of the region," I am reminded of Ariel Sharon's comments after the massacres at the camps in Lebanon. "We need to make people undertstand, etc." read: We got caught redhanded so we need to spin the story to our advantage, not admit we did something wrong and say we are sorry, and actually stop participating or facilitating massacres. I saw all I needed to "understand" about the region when I watched a father trying to protect his five year old son from Israeli sniper fire. The kid died and the whole world saw it on the six o'clock news. An entire documentary has now been created to try and "explain away" the kid's death. When I read these comments I am reminded of white Southerners who once said, "Well folks just don't understand how we do things down here." Unfortunately, we do understand, and that is the problem. Stop explaining and start not doing things, and we can all go back to admiring Israel for its unique position in the world, not despising it for its treatment of Palestinians.

22. ethan56 - February 05, 2010 at 02:58 pm

There it is, folks--writerman 13 has explained what was going on in the twisted mind of Professor Hall with all the explicitness we need.

23. bondage2 - February 05, 2010 at 03:44 pm

Sounds like don't nobody know nothin', really. It also sounds like there is not only an interest but a need for us to know the facts, from sources other than the student newspaper or administrative statements. Let's hope the Chronicle follows up with solid and aggressive journalism.

24. 12052592 - February 05, 2010 at 03:50 pm

You are so right ethan56, anyone who disagrees with Israel's policies are either crazy or anti-semites. Usually both. Thanks for informing the sane but ingnorant.

25. ef1901 - February 05, 2010 at 03:54 pm

Um. I'm a little frightened by some of the above comments. Whatever your politics, or the politics of the student or the professor, there seems to be very (very, very) little evidence presented that would make Prof. Hall's behavior acceptable in a classroom. Isn't that the chief issue here?

26. ethan56 - February 05, 2010 at 04:11 pm

ef1901--You are right. See my detailed information about Professor Hall's behavior from the student newspaper, above at no. 17. (The newspaper's account is now being challenged by bondage 2--on the basis of absolutely no contrary evidence.) Hall's behavior, his maltreatment of a student in public (for instance, calling him a "killer", warning the class that he's an FBI agent, telling him in front of a class never to come back to PSU)--it was, as you indicate, unacceptable.

And that is the point: Hall's savage behavior towards a student was savage and unacceptable. But the bien-pensants and anti-"Zionists" here will defend anything, it appears, as long as the victim happens to be an Israeli. Writerman is ready to *praise* Hall, for instance.

27. 11140525 - February 05, 2010 at 04:20 pm

If he was an FBI agent, and there are probably a few of them on campuses, esp doing advanced degrees, then he was probably there to benefit the safety of students and overall homeland security. Hall blew his cover.

28. writerman13 - February 05, 2010 at 04:48 pm

Ethan 56, even a cursory reading of my post shows that this statement is an outright lie: "Writerman is ready to *praise* Hall, for instance." Nowhere in my post did I say any of his behavior was "praiseworthy" I just raised the point that there are other issues that need considering. So far, we don't really have an independent account of what happened in the class, and I, for one, am anxious to hear it. Although it would appear at face value that his behavior was both "off the wall" and "unprofessional"

Unlike you, I am willing to wait until I hear an accurate version of the whole story. I can only hope that you don't misquote all the material you read to your students the way you just misquoted what I said and the view my text represents.

Here's one you can surely understand, and you have my permission to quote it often. What the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians in the territories is no worse, but not much better, than what the Nazis did to the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Israel, like Iran, is a theocracy, and its government is controlled by the most radical element in the country, the Religious Right.

And here is the most troubling fact of all: My tax dollars support everything that goes on there since Israel is on the dole and might as well be the 51st state. They also helped pay for Israel's 24 nuclear weapons, and that will never change because of the influence Israel has in Congress, e.g. Joe Lieberman, in the Senate and others like him, the misguided Bible thumping evangelical Southerners in the House and Senate who base their votes on something other than what is in America's best interest. Israel needs to be treated the same way South Africa once was until it changes its' policies.

Now feel free to accurately quote any of the above, just don't twist what I've said to hide the weaknesses of your argument, which IS the intent of my first post, twisting the truth to cover up war Israeli war crimes and criminals(our own as well I might add, which would include Bush, Cheyney, Rumsfeld, et. al). And, as I said, before I either condemn or praise the professor, like Paul Harvey, I want to know "the rest of the story."

29. ethan56 - February 05, 2010 at 05:03 pm

Here's what writerman 13 wrote in no. 20: "Now, having said that [i.e., a long attack on American Jews for having "dual citizenship"], I want to know a little bit more about this guy before I either praise or condemn him".

You are open to praising Hall. After what he did to that student. There you go.

As for the "Warsaw Ghetto" business: the people in the Warsaw Ghetto were wiped out, a classic genocide (that is, population decrease down to zero), whereas the population of Gaza is increasing, and at a rate that puts it within the top ten percentage increases in the world; people in the Warsaw Ghetto were starving, no one in Gaza is; no one in the Warsaw Ghetto shot 6,000 missiles at neighboring civilians, while Gaza did. etc, etc. Time to learn a little history, sir.

But none of this Gaza business is relevant to the savage abuse of a student in a classroom. Or, writerman 13--if you think it IS relevant--explain how.

30. writerman13 - February 05, 2010 at 07:28 pm

What other American citizen is allowed to fight in a foreign army? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there are any. Furthermore, why do American Jews hold dual citizenship vis a vie Israel if they so choose. I may be wrong about that. Do they hold it or not? If they do, what is the rationale for that thinking? Just a situation that appears to make no sense to me.

Which is worse? Randomly shooting missiles that have killed half a dozen people, or intentionally targeting schools, hospitals and homes, with American supplied missiles (paid for with my tax dollars!) killing more than a thousand civilians? I guess, in your mind, the six Israelis killed are far more important than the one thousand Palestinians who died, and that, unfortunately, is my point. About the Warsaw Ghetto, the operative word is that they haven't done it in Gaza--yet! Considering what little regard the Israelis hold for Palestinian lives it would neither surprise nor shock me to see tens of thousands die, while the world watches.

Again, I want to hear the whole story on the Hall incident before I make any comment regarding what did or didn't happen in that classroom. First, I want to find out if the young man was an FBI operative, as well as an Israeli Army sniper [which he has already admitted]. If he was, and he was there as part of an undercover operation, directed at Hall's Arab students, then he wasn't really a student! I am not going to condemn anyone for anything until I know the facts. What a concept!

31. jsch0602 - February 05, 2010 at 07:30 pm

Professors know many things and not all of that knowledge is appropriate for a classroom lecture.

32. ikant - February 05, 2010 at 08:51 pm

Writerman13, you seem quite invested in your understanding of dual citizenship and military service, but, in fact, your understanding is wrong.
A number of countries - including the US, Canada, the UK, France, Israel, Germany, the Netherlands, and so on - allow a person to hold dual citizenship (though there are exceptions to these laws). In fact, I have a friend who at one point held three citizenships!
Moreover, current US law allows dual citizens to serve in foreign armies without renouncing their US citizenship. Generally, unless the person holds a policy-level position (like a cabinet minister) or the foreign army in question is engaged in a conflict against the US, dual citizens may indeed serve in those armies without endangering their US citizenship. Again, this is the case for many countries in the world, and certainly not only Israel.

Finally, and again, it's quite unclear how your, or others', ethico-political concerns have any bearing on the situation at PSU. If Prof. Hall had concerns about the safety or security of his students, there are a number of channels through which he could have done so - and according to his own statements, there seems to be no indication that he, for instance, brought his concerns to the administration, or previously talked to the student in question, or anything else.

There may indeed be more to this particular story than the Chronicle or the PSU student paper have reported - but why are we so quick to give the benefit of the doubt to a teacher who interrupted his class and launched into a humiliating harangue against a student?

33. lexisaro - February 06, 2010 at 01:58 am

Why has this unravel into a political debate and the foundation for soapboxes? Who knows what the facts and motives are here! .

We have little more information than a bunch of tea leaves. Yet divergent viewpoints and theories can be supported by the "non-facts" by the power of biased assumptions and perceptions.

The professor in question may or may not suffer from mental illness, but reading this thread shows me that even 'normal' professors can perceive all kinds of things that may not actually be supported by reality.

34. amnirov - February 06, 2010 at 05:24 am

I am astonished by the depth and breadth of anti-semitism on this board. Hall is clearly deranged and in need of urgent medical intervention. And yet the posts devolve into a discussion about Israeli politics in which merely the thinnest veneer must be scraped away before we start seeing gross caricatures.

35. ethan56 - February 06, 2010 at 09:01 am

1. lexisaro, we know plenty:

Prof. Hall, in the midst of a lecture on the economic topic relevant to the class, suddenly did the following:

a. He stopped the class and announced to the class that he had been followed by the police surveillance throughout his life. Do you think that is acceptable?
b. He called a student who was sitting in the class "a killer with access to a personal arsenal". Do you think that was acceptable?
3. He called that student an Israeli sniper and an FBI agent, and said he knew the student's secret code-name.
4. He put on the document machine the letter he had written to the FBI, denouncing the student. Remember: the student is sitting in the class all this time. Do you think that was acceptable?
5. The student said to the class that he had served in the Israeli army, and denied that he was an FBI agent, and got up to leave; the professor said, "Leave Portland State and never come back!" Do you think that was acceptable behavior from the professor?

No one has denied that these events occurred (except Bondage 2, above--who, on the other hand, presented absolutely no evidence that any of this behavior, reported in the student newspaper, was inaccurately reported).

I think any faculty-member would say that such conduct on the part of a professor represents absolutely unacceptable conduct in a classroom.

2. Amnirov: I agree that the amount of anti-semitism revealed here in the Comments section by the responses to this appalling classroom incident is itself more disturbing than the incident itself.

The public humiliation of a student in a classroom is turned into a platform for ignorant and hate-filled anti-Israeli rants because the student happened to be an Israeli. As ikant's devastating response to writerman 13 in no. 32 above demonstrates, not only in their tone disturbing but writers such as writerman 13 also have no idea what they are talking about, and are simply repeating anti-semitic propaganda tropes--and with great emotion.

I suggest, Amnirov, that to understand the vile thing that happened yesterday in this comments section, you (and everyone else) would benefit from reading Jeffrey Herf's review in The New Republic of Robert Wistrich's new book on the return of powerful anti-semitism since 1945: www.tnr.com/book/review/it-will-not-go-away.

36. optimysticynic - February 06, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Entire thread is shocking and evidence of how deeply deranged we as a body politic have become through fear. My greatest fear is of the fearful mob. As a mental health professional, it seems close to obvious that Dr. Hunt is in the grip of a paranoid delusion.

The sad and dangerous thing is how we allow these naturally occurring rare events to catalyze our fears and justify our prejudices.

37. lexisaro - February 06, 2010 at 02:34 pm

Ethan56: No we don't know what happened. All we have is what two newspapers have cobbled together.

I see nothing wrong with debating the acceptability of professor behavior in the classroom....what I find stunning is how its turned into a political debate, each side reading all kinds of things into what took place. If the guy worn a clown suit and started reciting non-stop poetry we'd be arguing about whether he is ill or not...not his political motives.

He is most likely suffering from mental illness, which makes it not remotely newsworthy.

38. oneal_721 - February 06, 2010 at 02:40 pm

Like most people reading this, I assumed this was a sad story about a psychotic break and a victimized student military vet.
In checking out the school's student newspaper, though, I actually think there might be something more going on:
1) The student in question has been involved in a student organization that has called together protests that has left other students scratching their heads and involved heated rhetoric;
2) A search for the email address listed for the student on the student organization web site (tzviperez at yahoo) leads one to a YouTube channel called "tzviperez." According to the page, this is set up by someone named "Zacharia," who describes himself as a member of IDF special forces who's working as a student in the US. While this is all well and good, the channel (opened 5 months ago) features links and posts to extremist Serbian nationalist info, a lot of "Serbia and Israel: two nations, one fight" anti muslim stuff. He includes in his interests "counter-terrorism," and refers to the fact that "Getting a good night's sleep" is "rare in [his] line of work."
3) Now, whatever one thinks of the politics or self-presentation on that page (I think it looks a lot more like some grandiose adolescent internet tough-guy junk than a real "counter-terrorist"), it is pretty dang curious that someone with this internet presence is suddenly involved (under a different, but blatantly- via the email address- connected name) with leftist student activism in Portland, Ore. Tell me that "tzviperez's" YouTube channel looks like someone with a sincere interest in staving off cuts to liberal arts funding.

(The articles have been taking off the student paper's site, "the Daily Vanguard", but can be easily seen as cached.)

As an aside from a first-time poster, long time reader, the level of discourse in these comments sections is pretty sad. A lot of experts of nothing spewing hate and giving us academic types an even worse name. Grow up!

39. ethan56 - February 06, 2010 at 03:00 pm

1. lexisario:

What makes the story newsworthy now is not Hall; I agree with you that he is likely mentally ill (see my above, no. 14) and this is just a tragedy--note the stuff about being under police serveillance throughout his life.

What makes the story newsworth now is not Hall but how the story of what looks to be a mentally ill professor savagely humilating a student in class brought out all the anti-semites to instantly give the professor the benefit of the doubt regarding his bizarre behavior and his savage public humiliation of a student sitting in the class. I've been a faculty-member for 30 years and have never heard of anything like what Hall did to this student.

2. Oneal 721--a real secret agent, a real FBI agent, would not advertise his politics in public the way "Zacharia" (whoever he is) is advertising his on youtube. Therefore, whatever this is that you've found, it is actually a bit of evidence of just how crazy Professor Hall is to make the accusation.

40. oneal_721 - February 06, 2010 at 03:17 pm

Ethan56- I agree that a "real secret agent" wouldn't do that. Neither would a liberal campus activist post anti-Muslim, Serbian-nationalist-fetish counter-terrorist grandiosity. I'm pretty sure that this young man, whoever he may be, is probably pretty delusional as well. The channel does, however, seem to suggest that the student in question may be up to something creepy and dishonest in his campus activism.

That being said, whatever the situation, it was handled inappropriately by Prof. Hall. His intentions may have been good or bad, but it was clearly inappropriate. And if this student was innocent of all this, which is certainly a possibility, or just some typical contemporary American with delusions of counter-terrorist grandeur, which seems more likely, it's unfair that he was so publicly dressed down. (If he was an agitator- and there are public recent examples of this- I have no such pity.)

The idea a professor who is concerned by the significant possibility that one of his students is a campus agitator could only be motivated by anti-Semitism is, frankly, intellectually lazy. Even sillier, and a good deal more frustrating, is the insistence of a few Internet Heroes that we see this sad incident as a sign of how campus liberals have some massive anti-Semitic agenda. Our relationships with one another as academics are fraught enough.

41. ethan56 - February 06, 2010 at 03:34 pm

Oneal 721: I'm glad you agree that Hall acted inappropriately in the class (though I would go farther than that).

I'm not saying Hall was motivated by anti-semitism. I don't have any idea what motivated him; it sure sounds to a layman like he had a paranoid crack-up. That said, it was the response of others here, who were so evidently eager to give Hall the benefit of the doubt because the student happened to have served in the Israeli army, or using the incident as a platform for their anti-semitic politics in the Comments, not Hall himself, that makes this thread newsworthy to me.

42. enochroot47 - February 06, 2010 at 06:44 pm

As a former colleague of Professor Hall, I find his behavior somewhat strange, but that isn't anything out of the ordinary for him. I always regarded him as a bit eccentric and holding some unusual ideas. I suspect that he thought he was doing nothing wrong or unusual despite the fact that had a faculty member in my Department done this, he/she would have been seeking a position elsewhere. There is no excuse for this type of outburst in a class!

43. rambo - February 06, 2010 at 06:59 pm

what about the students involved in the Earth Liberation movement or animal rights extremist groups? Why aren't they singled out too? Or that Taliban guy enrolled at Yale?

44. factsarehelpful - February 07, 2010 at 04:09 am

FactsAreHelpful: I have known Prof.John Hall for about 20 years. I am familiar with the facts of this incident, and spent 12 years working in alcoholism/chemical dependency and mental health. Dr. Hall is not crazy, and he is not an anti-Semite. He is a card-carrying member of the ACLU. He is an unusual professor, one of those priceless rarities whose work shapes and inspires his students for a lifetime.

Dr. Hall spent a fair amount of the Cold War doing original research in the then-Soviet Union and is an expert on comparative economies. He is not given to bragging, but I reasonably believe he had experiences during this research that give him knowledge of some of the covert activities that frequently intrude the sacred precincts of academe.

When I learned of this matter I undertook independent inquiry into the fact situation, and, after studying the tzviperez web page, in the context of serious weapons on campus, concluded that there was potential for a version of the Virginia Tech slaughter. I called the Portland Police--immediately. It reasonably appeared that a 'student' who (google the student's name) had risen with astounding speed, vertically and horizontally in student government. The dimension of his official relationships on campus was impressive. the guy miight be a nut case, but he was very proficient at building a broad-spectrm powerbase.

There were multiple reports of this man's habit of carrying a pistol in his vest on campus; that he had brought automatic weapons to classes where (as if there would be an appropriate occasion) his presentation on the charistics and relative merits of automatic weapons were totally off topic and inexplicable.

There are some intelligent comments on this blog. There are also a number of participants who lack professional experience and detachment. I suggest everybody take a long, deep breath and allow this situation to unfold. Something here is passing strange. I do not agree with Dr. Hall's approach to the problem, but know the man well enough to disagree with his approach without concluding he is crazy. He did this to protect his students from something he clearly regarded as dangerous., after being failed by the people who should have responded to this very strange, alarming situation,

I can tell you this: Dr. Hall is not any version of crazy, and is absolutely not any version of an Anti-Semite. So, go figure.

Let'not pour vitriol on this discussion. None of us want crackpots wandering around a multi-cultural campus carrying a loaded gun and trying to recruit students for violent activities.

PSU was the first university in the nation to open a Middle East Studies Center--that happened when I was a student there. The Center just celebrated its 50th anniversity. There are large numbers of Muslim students on campus. They congregate in a known location in the student union.

Everything Dr. Hall tried, working through channels, brought no intervention; meanwhile, his students were regularly reporting observing the concealed hand gun; being solicited for funds to purchase the professor an AK-47; articulating violent ideations; bragging about his proficiency as a sniper; and seeking to build a following in keeping with his violent propensities.

I cannot explain why PSU Administration and Campus Security failed to act on information presented in a timely and professional manner, with multiple sources. I do not agree with the approach Dr. Hall finally took when he felt his students were in danger. When I independently gathered sufficient information, I called the police. It is passing strange that, as best I can tell, no major follow-up at that level, either.

It is impossible to know just what is driving this 'student's' behavior. Anyone who knows Dr. Hall can tell you that he is sane, if a bit eccentric (he keeps bees and builds furniture).

Stay tuned. Try to keep the volume down. These things need systematic, rational inquiry, Jumping to conclusions on press reports is not generally very useful.

45. ethan56 - February 07, 2010 at 07:39 am

Dear Factsarehelpful:

One thing about your posting here seems to be totally inaccurate.

Professor Hall's own unspokesman, Phil Lesch, executive director of the Portland State University AAUP, says that Hall did NOT contact higher authorities before confronting the student in class. Repeat: Hall did NOT contact higher authorities before confronting the student in class.

From The Oregonian (a reputable newspaper, my cousin was once its editor), Feb. 5:

"Asked why Hall didn't go to authorities with his concerns, Lesch said Hall had extensive experience with school bureaucracy and 'did not feel like taking this to campus safety was the right way to go.'

"Lesch added in an e-mail that in Hall's years at PSU, 'There have been a number of occasions where his personal safety had been threatened...Hall reported these incidents through proper channels at the time, but the university either did nothing to address his concerns, or dismissed his reports outright.'"

Readers, draw your own conclusions on this aspect of the incident.

One must add that if Hall thought this student was really so dangerous, if "he thought his students were in danger", as factsarehelpful says, it is exceedingly odd that Hall would then confront this student in this manner in the classroom. Just what did Hall think he was doing, publicly attacking and humiliating Zach Bucharest, if he really thought Bucharest was armed? If he did think this, then Hall's behavior is even more inexcusable. This is not only because he savagely and publicly humiliated a student (who by the way responded peacefully), but because he might have been putting the entire class at risk by doing it.

Finally, factsarehelpful, what's all this implication of yours that the student was going to blow up the place where Muslim students meet (your paragraph 7)? Do you have any facts to back up that implication?

46. ethan56 - February 07, 2010 at 07:39 am

That should be "Professor Hall's own spokesman" in the first line, not "unspokesman"! (typo)

47. factsarehelpful - February 07, 2010 at 04:37 pm

It is difficult to imagine a responsible person ignoring the presence of an armed student, claiming sniper and explosives expertise; actively recruiting on a college campus with offers to teach the best way to build a Molotov Cocktail; purchase automatic weapons for third parties; and, exhibiting a loaded gun to fellow students on campus. The fact that PSU has long been a center for Mid-East Studies that attracts a substantial Muslim population, is but one of the factors to be considered in evaluating this bizarre fact pattern. It's a red flag, given the 'student's' professed service in the IDF, and the violent material on his Serbian-inspired google site. One wants not to jump to conclusions, but ignoring this information when assessing risk and making a decision to report the situation to public safety authorities is sensible.

Professionals are looking into this matter. Most of them have access to otherwise unavailable information. It is likely wise to withhold judgment and observe the process as it unfolds. Given the very public exposure of this weapons hazard on campus, it seems unlikely that anyone involved will do anything sudden, foolish or destructive. I'm good with that.

48. ethan56 - February 07, 2010 at 05:11 pm


1. You misinformed this Comments section about Professor Hall informing the authorities. He didn't.

2. Whatever the situation now with publicity, at the time of Hall's savage public humiliation of the student, Hall hadn't informed the authorities about the student, there was no alert, and Hall apparently thought the student was armed when Hall suddenly interrupted his lecture to berate him. You say Hall feared another Virginia Tech: then it is hard to imagine more irresponsible behavior than this professor's behavior in that class.

3. That's a separate issue from Hall's public humiliation of a student in front of an entire class, which most people here, like me professors, find highly reprehensible under *any* circumstances.

49. factsarehelpful - February 08, 2010 at 04:39 pm

Hi, ethan56,

You are distinguished, along with a handful of others who have chosen to comment on this strange situation, by being measured and accurate in your approach. Frankly, I've been shocked by the vitriol and snap judgments that marked much of the response and commentary. I expect better from academic professionals.

You are correct about Professor Hall's failure to inform authorities prior to the denunciation. I was wrong about the facts in that regard. Sincere appologies, and thanks for the correction.

Dr. Hall had informed campus authorities on other occasions where he observed inappropriate conduct. Apparently, based on the results of that, he did not go to campus authorities this time. That is regrettable in my view.

My concern about a fact pattern that involved potential for mass violence led me to do the obvious: call the police and provide as much information as I could to professionals trained to address these kinds of problems.

Both my spouse and I studied at PSU many years ago. Our child, who is now working on a second doctoral degree graduated from PSU. Dr. Hall deserves huge credit for turning an indifferent student into an academic all-star. We have observed his work at close range, on our own child. He would be a major asset to any university. He is what all of us hope for, and aspire to, as professionals and as human beings.

My spouse, our child, and I have also observed PSU campus security at close range. They are really good at writing parking tickets. I don't think I'd take a more serious matter to them. If something potentially serious and violent is involved, my choice is to contact the police. They will contact campus security, with or without my help.

The potential for violence from this particular source has clearly diminished. It remains for those in positions of authority, on campus and (perhaps/probably) off campus, to sort this out.

This I know: John Hall is one of those once-or-twice in the course of higher education kind of educators. He is remarkable and inspirational. His students, even many who took economics because it filled a void in their schedule, have a phenomenal success rate. Disproportionate numbers of them go on to graduate school. Disproportionate numbers earn Ph.D.'s. He is that rare bird who can publish prolifically, internationally and in two languages, while providing the highest possible teaching and student inspirational environment.

I do not know what caused this crazy situation. I don't agree with the way Dr. Hall confronted the problem. That's why I called the police when I assed the threats inherent in the fact pattern. That does not change my assessment of the professor. He did not handle this well, but he is an absolute jewel in the crown of academe.

It's time for some cooler heads to sort this out and resolve the both the obvious issues on the surface, and any underlying agendas that may be driving this strange situation. We need to have better campus security at PSU. Students should not be carrying weapons on campus or in class rooms. Recruiting students to purchase automatic weapons and make really powerful Molotov Cocktails is inappropriate in a civilized society; reprehensible on a college campus.

Let us hope that the PSU administration is capable of summoning the judgment, integrity and values necessary to deal sensibly with this problem, and to go forward in a sane manner that allows faculty the luxury of confidence in their ability and willingness to respond to events and people who make inappropriate contributions to campus life and studies.

50. ethan56 - February 08, 2010 at 05:50 pm

Dear factsarehelpful,

Your posting above is truly helpful, both in tone and information. I take your point that Professor Hall can be a wonderful teacher.

Here are my thoughts at this point.

1. The student certainly sounds wierd. Something is strange there. But I doubt the student is an FBI agent, let alone an agent provocateur, let alone Mossad (which accusation has now--surprise!--also surfaced). Since anyone with a computer can connect the student to an anti-Muslim website featuring the horrible Serbian Special Forces (which lots of people have done), well, no real FBI agent who is deep undercover as a leftist agitator is going to be that careless about his real beliefs--especially if he is involved in anti-Muslim-radical operations at PSU. That goes double for Mossad.

2. But though the student sounds wierd, there is simply no excuse for the professor's behavior. One does not do what he did to a student, any student, in class: calling him directly and explicitly a "killer" in front of the other students in the class? taking a photo of him sitting there without his permission, in front of everyone? putting your letter to the FBI about him on the *document camera* in the class for all the class to see and read? He sits there silently, finally defends himself briefly from these accusations, and then gets up to leave and you then say, "Never come back to PSU and I'm going to put pictures of you on posters all over the campus"?

Hall says he thought the student was dangerous, but his spokesman says Hall didn't contact campus security--not ever. (Because he distrusted it. I see...) If Hall really thought the student was dangerous and possibly armed, that the student was a possible Virginia Tech case (as Hall or his supporters have also suggested)--well, to suddenly stop lecture and then to humilate this student for 15 minutes and verbally assault the student in public in that class would be just about the most irresponsible thing I can imagine a faculty-member doing.

My wife had a situation two years ago where a crazy student disrupted her large lecture course. She tried to calm the student (not *provoke* him with verbal attacks!!) until the police, whom she'd called on her cell, came to get the student. (Our campus police, too, are mostly good at writing parking tickets, like the PSU police--but that is hardly the point: the campus police took the disturbed student away.) Hall did the opposite of this: no calls to the police, and instead a savage provocation of the allegedly dangerous student. Outrageously irresponsible conduct.

3. Maybe the student was talking to the Muslim students about selling them illegal weapons and bomb-making equipment (that seems to be the implication of what little information I've been able to get from the Vanguard and The Oregonian (a reputable paper; my cousin used to be its editor). Maybe the student was just an empty boaster. Maybe he was seeking to do a little "weapons business" on the side to eke out a living while a student at PSU. And maybe the issue that people at PSU are afraid of talking about is the actual belief-system of some of the (Muslim) "activists" on the PSU campus.

4. Hall's friends now even claim that Hall was worried that the student was going to physically attack a Muslim gathering place on the PSU campus with guns or a bomb But if Hall DID believe this thing, why on earth would he then provoke the student in an intolerable way in public, in class, in front of some of those Muslim students?

There are mysterious elements here, but the main issue is Hall's behavior, it seems to me.

4. But what is far more bothersome to me than even Hall's behavior--and far more newsworthy--was the flood of anti-semitic postings (such as those above here--but not only here) that this incident has provoked, simply because the victimized student was an Israeli. The incident was employed to create a platform for a spew of postings with hardly any relevance to the issue with Hall, but brimming with typical anti-semitic tropes: Jews as "double citizens" and hence parasites and traitors to the U.S.; Jews as Nazis (a new favorite of the emerging Leftist-Muslim axis). Very disheartening.

51. factsarehelpful - February 09, 2010 at 01:10 pm

Greetings, Ethan 56,

Once again, you have distinguished yourself with thoughtful questions and observations. I am thankful that, among the hysterical voices raised on this controversy, you and several others have posted well-reasoned comments.

1. When I contacted Portland Police, my final comment to the detective was, "If this guy is one of yours, you need to cut him loose. He is a nutcase." I agree that it is highly unlikely that any professional intelligence service would operate with such ineptitude.

Unlike most of you, I have read a student-authored narrative of the events which provoked Dr. Hall's dramatic denouncement. I provided it, by fax, to Portland Police when the call was made. Its value, in my view, was that was NOT written by the professor. This narrative, followed by study of the Serbian Special Forces recruitment website maintained by the disruptive student, formed the basis for my decision and action.

2. The political agenda, if any, of this 'student' is unclear. It would be easy to assume anti-Semitism, based on superficial analysis; it is equally plausible that this studient fancied himself a person whose mandate was to identify potentially radical Muslim students in a "Post 9/11 world;" equally possible that he simply has unmet power, dominance and control needs. What is clear is that he was armed on campus, seeking to recruit students to purchase automatic weapons and make explosives, and advocating some kind of protest.

3. This situation developed, and escalated, over a period of months. Implicit threats, verging on explicit, were made by the student to the professor, who lives in a very isolated location. The student bragged of being a sniper, and asked to come to the professor's home to engage in a shooting competition using automatic weapons. The professor neither owns nor covets such things. He's not a gun guy. Alarmed, he locked his gate and began to carry a side arm while on his property. I thought that silly, frankly. What good is a pistol against a sniper?

4. The reliable lock on the professor's gate was jammed one night--to the point where it had to be removed with a welding torch. The professor notified campus security of the incident, and his concern. Nothing came of this.

5. Every profession has its blind spots. Your wife was exceptional, in that she had the presence of mind to call 911 when she regarded a student in her class as a threat. In general, our colleagues are expected to 'think inside the box' and call campus security.

On a well-managed traditional campus, calling campus security may be a sound choice. On an urban campus, thinking 'inside the box,' and relying on campus administration and security (which had both previously been demonstrably useless in the experience of this professor) led to a very unfortunate choice of remedies.

I understand why the professor resorted to self-help, but do not condone his choice. Every profession has inherent blind spots, often caused by the doctrine of their training and workplace. Example: Henry Ford, after years of efforts to achieve a wrap-around windshield by employing engineers specialized in working with glass, fired them and hired generic mechanical engineers. He had his wrap-around windshield in short order.

An academic is taught to go through administrative channels and rely on campus security. In an urban university, with an armed agitator on campus, this creates unacceptable risks.

This excellent professor made a dumb mistake, clearly related to the known inadequacy of conventional approachs. I was not present, and, although he is not a close personal friend, I know this professor fairly well. He reasonably believed the student was armed with a pistol. I believe he was willing to be shot himself, the likely outcome if this strange 'student' responded violently, rather than risk the kind of horrors explicit in the overall fact pattern.

The plight of the professor and the risk to students, left vulnerable by an administration and campus security apparatus that failed to detect and respond to a totally unacceptable threat, is unreasonable at every level. It cries out for an independent review of campus security and administrative procedures. If a university prescribes a 'blind spot' of notifying aadministration and toothless campus security to deal with an armed agitator, it needs to re-think its policies and procedures.

Like you, I am horrified by the flood of demographic libel in postings that resulted from the news report on this incident. This kind of non-thinking and stereotypically-driven hysteria has no place among civilized people.

Academe is no longer an 'ivory tower,' if, indeed, it ever was. The real world is omnipresent on campus--particularly urban campuses. Realistic policies and procedures are needed to deal with the fact of a turbulent world. The professor acted in a desperate manner that cannot be condoned. He is an exceptionally fine, dedicated educator with an astounding level of achievement in both teaching and publications. He is tenured at an institution which has adopted advanced criteria, transcending longeviety and publish-or-perish.

Professor Hall should never have been placed in a this position. He acted foolishly when it became clear that his students were in peril. The university failed him and all of its students by failing to provide meaningful protection from a potentially lethal, clearly obvious threat.

The reports of a pistol-carrying student on campus were neither isolated nor subtle. It is regrettable that the professor chooses not to carry a cell phone, and that he did not have the 'out of the box' presence of mind of your astute wife. Clearly, you chose your life partner well.

52. concernedstudent - February 09, 2010 at 05:02 pm

Dear factsarehelpful and ethan56,

I am a student involved in the situation, and I have first hand knowledge of the incident. Although this is not the appropriate forum for sharing it, I do want to address the topic of why Professor Hall might not have gone through the administration.

1. Students have shared a great deal of worrying information with university administrators, and no action has been taken. Campus security has told students not to worry about it, and has not taken reports on the situation from some concerned students. Concerned students have been referred primarily to counselors -- the implication being that it is an unfounded worry needing only emotional and not material support.

2. Zak Bucharest told people that he had friends inside campus security. This was relatively public knowledge. It is possible that Professor Hall knew this, or that he suspected it.

3. Given the tepid response by the university after the fact after they were briefed by multiple students on the danger, it is highly likely that no action would have been taken if Professor Hall approached them beforehand. However, they might have prevented him from pursuing the approach he did take as an emergency measure.

I appreciate that both of you have brought this discussion back to a civilized level. There is no reason to believe that Professor Hall is mentally ill. Unfortunately, there is little reason to believe that qualified professionals are investigating Mr. Bucharest's danger. The current investigation is on Professor Hall. No parallel investigation on Mr. Bucharest appears to exist.

53. ethan56 - February 09, 2010 at 06:17 pm

Dear factsarehelpful and concerned,

First, thank you both for helping return this thread to a civilized level of discourse.

My current reactions:

1. There is certainly something strange about this student. I agree! And the detailed narrative of ZB's doings that is presented by factsarehelpful is indeed disturbing. But I don't feel comfortable going any farther because the source of the narrative of ZB's doings is an unnamed student.

2. The lackadaisical response of the administration to student concerns is, equally, disturbing. This is what happened when Nikki Giovanni--not an ordinary student or even an ordinary faculty-member, but a world famous poet, and as a black woman somone who presumably had a special ear of the Virginia Tech admininstration--complained to the VT administration about Seung-Hui Cho: that is, nothing happened at all in response to her concerns. It appears to be that the initial impulse of univ admins is always to sweep things under the rug.

3. Nevertheless if Professor Hall thought ZB was dangerous it was his profound responsibility to inform the administration in no uncertain terms of the danger, which he never did (thereby also backing up the students who did complain--which again, he never did, and this left those students out to dry). I'm sorry, concerned, but there is no excuse for this, and no point excogitating possible reasons why Hall failed to complain to the administration. It was his fiduciary responsibility to do so if he was that worried (rather than confronting the student in class instead!!). And even if Hall had run into a roadblock in the admin, it was also his responsibility to somehow overcome the roadblock if he were so concerned about the danger. Hall's failure to do any of this remains, to me, reprehensible.

4. Further, and nevertheless again, if Professor Hall thought ZB was dangerous, the very last thing for him to do was to confront this dangerous person in class, assault him verbally in public, humiliate him in public, take his photo without his permission, call him a "killer", etc., etc., etc. If Hall really thought that this guy was about to explode, if there was even the possibility that he was carrying a gun, then that was the absolute height of irresponsibility. And if Hall didn't think the guy was that dangerous, then what the heck was Hall doing to this student in the classroom? This too is totally reprehensible.

I guess I'm speaking from the perspective of a faculty-member. But I can't imagine any of my colleagues acting in the manner that Hall did.

And it is even more disconcerting, as I've said, that this incident became somehow a platform for multiple anti-semitic slanders. This is supposed to be a threat on The Chronicle of Higher Education!

54. ethan56 - February 09, 2010 at 06:19 pm

Um, last sentence: that's "thread", not "threat"!

55. factsarehelpful - February 09, 2010 at 06:26 pm

Dear Concerned Student,

It is good to hear an authentic voice from within this vortex. Your perspective is valuable. I would go so far as to suggest that you contact Detective Karl Sprague, of the Portland Police Bureau Intelligence Division, if you feel that is appropriate.

I do not know what is going on here. You've read this thread, so you know what I did, and why I acted.

You deserve to know, as well, that while my knowledge of Dr. Hall is long-standing, it does not run particularly deep on a social basis. I approach this as an interested, but relatively objective observer who has taught at PSU, been a student there, and observed the impact of this superb educator on students. I see him every year or two at social gatherings, but judge him by his work and affiliations. You are correct: he is a very sane person. He would not have taken the steps he did if he felt any viable alternative existed.

It is testament to the cordial distance that exists in my relationship with Dr. Hall that he did not inform me, or ask my suggestions about this simmering threat.

I cannot explain the failure of the PSU administration to react appropriately to student concerns--particularly THIS KIND of student concern at this point in history.

Here is the only wisdom I can offer: Government has value. Police Departments are a legitimate place to contact when something suspicious and dangerous is afoot. If you see anything this potentially dangerous, and it reasonably appears that the University is failing in its legal obligation to provide you with a safe environment, you should contact the police.

Good luck with your studies. Keep hour head down. Stay safe!

56. factsarehelpful - February 10, 2010 at 06:22 pm

Dear Concerned Student,

I hope you and your colleagues are safely pursuing your studies.

I am curious about something. Perhaps you, or one of your friends have an answer. The strange email address and website of the student whose statements and activities occasioned such turmoil is tzhkperez. I've been trying to understand whether this set of letters has any meaning.

Attempts to sound out the strange word come out to something approximately like...well, The Keepers, once one utilizes a bit of Eastern European phonetics and pop culture spelling, where the letter 'z' often substitutes for the letter 's.'

The Keepers is a sci-fi trilogy, written by Richard Friar, which deals with WWIII, projected for the year 2038, including a central European dictator with designs on world domination.

Are you aware of any connections between the strange events on campus and this literature?

57. realitychick - February 11, 2010 at 04:56 pm

Zak Bucharest's frequent talk of Molotov cocktail recipes, procurement of automatic rifles, and violence inspired alarm among other students, eight of whom complained to Professor Hall about Bucharest.

Bucharest's youtube and Myspace profiles show Bucharest to be a man who is deeply attracted to violence. On his youtube website, Bucharest
names among his hobbies "sniping" and "explosives," and he names "The Art of War" as his favorite book.

Zachariah Bucharest's Myspace profile states: "Who I'd like to meet: Moses, Itzhak, Yaakov, Abraham and the Maccabi's so's I could introduce firearms to them. But we got world domination on the under anyway baby, YEEEEEEEEAH!!! And Hitler's parents so I could off them with two double taps..."

These statements on Bucharest's youtube and Myspace profiles, along with his statements that aroused concerns among his fellow students, provide ample evidence that Professor Hall had good cause to exclude Bucharest from his classroom, although Professor Hall should have followed protocol and presented the complaints to Security and to the

The texts and links to Zachariah Bucharest's youtube and Myspace profiles, along with links to his websites, are provided below.

Zacharia Bucharest's youtube profile:


Profile Name: Zacharia
Channel Views: 1,460 Total Upload Views:0
Age:30 Joined:January 21, 2007 Last Sign In:5 months ago Subscribers:4

About Me: Member of IDF special forces. I am now studying in the USA. I
support all things Jewish and anti-terrorist, especially SERBIA!!! They
are fighting the same war Israel has been for longer even. I like
music, good food, good drink, good friends, good ladies, and of course,
a good nights sleep-which is very rare in my line of work.

Country: United States Occupation: Soldier Companies:IDF

Hobbies: Sniping, CQB, counter-terrorism training, hostage rescue,
explosives, weight lifting, swimming, reading, music, cooking,

Movies:Hands down, has to be movies by Emir Kusturica. Music:too much
to write here. Books:The Art of War


Zacharius Bucharest's Myspace profile:



Born Zacharias...Ramon

I'm sweatin' no idols a titles all I request

30 years old
Portland, OREGON
United States
Last Login: 11/4/2007

Born Zacharias...Ramon's Blurbs
About me:
Too much to write about. If you from poor, understand the spirit, don't
mind the cheddar and love it raw, I guess that might be it in a

Who I'd like to meet:
Moses, Itzhak, Yaakov, Abraham and the Maccabi's so's I could introduce
firearms to them. But we got world domination on the under anyway baby,
YEEEEEEEEAH!!! And Hitler's parents so I could off them with two double
taps, and last but not least, my Grandfather-RIP-so we could have one
last drink and a smoke together.

Gender: Male
Status: Married
Age: 30
Sign: Capricorn

City: Portland
Country: US
Signup Date: 12/15/2006

58. ethan56 - February 11, 2010 at 07:41 pm

realitychick's info is interesting but only demonstrates:

1. That if these are actually ZB's sites, he is very strange indeed.
2. That NO agent of the FBI (let alone Mossad) working under deep cover against the Left, or radical Muslim students at PSU, would do THIS sort of thing--it's ridiculous to think so. But that was the most repeated accusation made by Professor Hall, in public, in class: that Bucharest was an FBI agent; and he said it repeatedly. This indicates something troubling about the situation in that class, and about Hall.
3. That if, on the other hand, these are really Bucharest's sites, then he is very strange and the sites are ugly (I think everyone accepts THAT), but there's still actually nothing illegal about those sites.
4. That if these are Bucharest's sites, and Hall thought Bucharest was dangerous, then the very LAST thing that Hall should have done was to confront this allegedly dangerous person directly (and perhaps armed person, according to Hall and his supporters!), verbally attack him for minutes on end in a class, in public, humiliate him and humiliate him in public. Think about it. It's a level of irresponsibility on Hall's part that is stunning.
5. Factchick agrees with most people here that Hall, if he was so concerned about the danger this student allegedly represented, was also at fault for not taking his concerns to the administration and campus security. For one thing, it would have backed up the student complaints. As it was, they were left out on a limb. For another thing, we could've avoided the scene in class.
6. In any case, it is reprehensible for a faculty-member to verbally attack, publicly humilate, and publicly abuse ANY student in front of a class.
(Factchick, would you like this to have been done to you, to have some prof accuse you in public, as you sit in class, of being a terrorist, and go on and on about it, and take a photo of you without your permission, to put up on posters around the campus? Think about it.)
7. The only way to "exclude" Bucharest from the class, factchick, was through channels, through the admin--and this Hall refused to do, instead choosing to confront this allegedly dangerous person directly in class. Incredible, if he really thought he was dangerous.
8. It remains possible that Bucharest is completely innocent. Bucharest's behavior in not responding except in a dignified way to Hall's incredibly insulting outburst and behavior in the class reflects well on Bucharest. I'm not supporting this person--I'm just pointing out the difference in behavior in public that all have attested to.

59. factsarehelpful - February 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Has anyone has else concluded that there is a strange body of shared interest and belief, with comments posted by one of this articles most prolific corresponants, and the behavior of the disruptive strange student at PSU. I do not believe the contiguity of interests is random.

If my analysis of this 'student's' strange email and website addresses, tzhkperez, sounds out like Za Keepers, a post-adolescent sci-fi trilogy, by Richard Friar, which posits WWIII, with lots of focus on weaponry and armaments.

I think if one wants to understand this matter, it might be useful to visit www.thekeepersIII,con. I'd like to hear some feed-back this this from dis-interested parties from other universities.

If this literature has provided a disturbed young adult, a case of arrested development held prisoner by paronia, with a theme for his life and an outlet for his violent propensities, it is very sad. Professor Hall and the students at PSU have been deeply victimized by a aspinless administrations, faced with a poor immitation of Walter Mitty, who has delusions of grandure.

This is a matter to be referred to police. The University should not permit students to carry guns on campus. They need to subject their policies to objective, external audit and review. Dr. Hall acted to confront an individual and agenda, factors he assessed as so dangerous, that he felt compelled to act. He could easily have been shot in the atmospherics of that confrontation. He should not be made the sacrifiall offering to this kind of institutional failure.

The student is also a victim of ineptitude and indifference. The university needs assist him toward comprehensive, long-term counseling and rehabilitation. This young man has bragged of the number of Palestinian men while in the IDF. he has displayed and exhibited woundes in his skin that could be a product of gunshots. This young man needs help. He is way in over his head.

The administration of PSU is responsible for maintaining a safe campus. The fairly broad spectrum distain the paid professionals who should be keeping the campus safe, is appalling.

This incident was inexcusable at every level. Not one of the players is deserving of safe harbor at the expense of others. Leave Professor Hall to do his valuable work. Get this student help. Review and upgrade campus security, policies and procedures. If anyone should be fired or expelled from this campus, it would be the people who are responsible for using tax payer dollars to provide students to fine teachers and a safe learning environment. Here, they appear to have failed to accomplish either, or both. It may be possible to retrain some of them for an appropriate career--like selling appliances or shoes.

I have a colleague who taught at Hunter College. He was a protege of anthropoligist, Margaret Meade. He is currently a very rell-respected attorney, If asked, he says he specialized in Sub-Vertabrate Bureaucracies; i.e. university administraions and similar institutions.

So, I think we are dealing with a subvertebrate bureaucracy, a nutcase sci-fi fan looking for a cadre of people to accompany him on a violent soree, and a gifted Educator who had the common sense to identify an existential threat to the campus and its students, and the guts to make himself the immediate target if this nut cooked off.

60. ethan56 - February 11, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Dear Factsarehelpful,

You seem to have changed your tune a bit, and I am surprised. Before you said that Hall made "a dumb mistake" (no. 51). Now you see Hall as courageous! If he really believed this student was a threat, then the very LAST thing he should have done was to verbally assault and berate and humiliate him in public, in front of a class, over and over.

You praised my wife for seeking to calm a student who was engaging in a crazy outburst in her class, while calling the police. Hall did the opposite. He was the person who engaged in a crazy outburst, featuring obviously false charges (the student was an FBI agent!); he irresponsibly provoking a student, whom he said he thought was dangerous, verbally assaulting and humiliating him over and over. HE was the person who was acting crazy, not the student. He was provoking the student, not calming him (and the supposedly dangerous student remained calm--isn't that strange?). And contrary to my wife, Hall DIDN'T call the police. Hall let this possibly provoked sudent just walk out of the class onto the campus? And now you think he acted courageously? I'm surprised you would say this. He acted totally irresponsibly.

You say just above Hall could easily have been shot in the atmosphere of confrontation, and that "Hall had the guts to make himself the immediate target if this nut cooked off." So now he's courageous? Well, what about the rest of the students in that class--if Hall was correct?! Did THEY volunteer to be targets, if Hall was correct? (Luckily he wasn't). Outrageous behavior on Hall's part.

Factsarehelpful, this was a classroom confrontation that HALL and only HALL started, including repeatedly humiliating this student, and repeatedly saying that the student was an FBI agent, which is obviously false. The student remained calm, not the professor. That says it all. The student remained calm, briefly defended himself, and then left the class--with the professor declaring, "Don't come back to PSU!" And just who is it who acted inappropriately here?

61. ethan56 - February 11, 2010 at 11:23 pm

This doesn't mean I think the student is a hero; I don't. The student seems a very strange person.

But Hall's behavior is inexcusable. This is especially so if Hall thought--as factsarehelpful now apparently does--that this student was possibly armed and immediately dangerous. So you provoke and abuse him in a classroom crowded with students? Absurd.

62. psuer - February 12, 2010 at 12:38 am

From these very pages...
The FBI Steps Up Its Work on Campuses, Spurring Fear and Anger Among Many Academics

The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 11, 2003, Friday

A strange invader roamed the skies over Indiana University at Bloomington in February: a white, single-propeller Cessna 182 that circled for hours on end. The airplane buzzed the city for more than a week, at noon, in late evening, and after midnight. Watchers craned their necks in curiosity -- and apprehension. What was it doing up there?

The answer was simple, if bizarre. After first denying any connection to the flyovers, officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation confessed that they were using the plane to conduct visual surveillance of the campus as part of the fight against terrorism. They had identified no terrorist threat against the university, but the agency said it was watching specific individuals, vehicles, and businesses, particularly those that sent faxes or e-mail late at night. Agents had also interviewed several international students on the campus.

FBI activity has increased at colleges and universities since the September 11 attacks and the passage of the USA Patriot Act in 2001. Incidents like the one at Indiana are occurring with more and more frequency across the country, often with foreign students and scholars as the targets.

On February 26, agents from the FBI and other federal law-enforcement authorities stormed the University of Idaho, in Moscow. Dozens of agents swooped into the sleepy college town at 4:30 a.m. and raided the university's graduate-student housing. They arrested a Saudi graduate student with alleged terrorist ties and interrogated more than 20 other international students for more than four hours.

That same day, federal agents arrested an adjunct professor at the State University of New York at Oswego and charged him with funneling millions of dollars to Iraq.

A week earlier, federal prosecutors indicted Sami Al-Arian, a computer-engineering professor at the University of South Florida accused of helping Palestinian terrorists. A University of Central Florida professor and former student of Mr. Al-Arian's was arrested on immigration charges a month later. (All the men have denied any wrongdoing.) And last December, an Iraqi-born economics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst was questioned by an FBI agent and a university detective about his loyalty to the United States.

Fearing a return to the bad old days of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s -- when the FBI investigated, infiltrated, and disrupted campus activities with relative impunity -- faculty members, students, and some administrators are increasingly worried that the agency may again be running roughshod over their civil liberties. They also worry that college police officers are working with the FBI with little oversight by campus officials. And while willing to work with federal agents to pursue real threats, those officials do not want to cooperate in fishing expeditions.

If FBI agents have solid evidence, they have the right to question people, says Adel M. Mekraz, a marketing professor at Indiana and director of social activities for the Islamic Center of Bloomington, but not just because those people are "Saudi or Muslim."

The FBI and other law-enforcement agencies say they are protecting people from terrorism while respecting civil liberties. "We're working with campus law enforcement to make sure civil liberties aren't compromised," says Paul Bresson, an FBI spokesman. "But we have an obligation to the American people to do everything we can to minimize the threat of another terrorist attack."
Remembering Earlier Eras

Disagreement over how far federal agents may go in their campus investigations is nothing new. Suspicions about law enforcement increased during the McCarthy era and reached their height between 1956 and 1971, when the FBI conducted a domestic counterintelligence program, called Cointelpro, to root out Communists. The program violated federal laws as the agency spied on civil-rights, antiwar, and student groups, and disrupted activities it deemed threats to national security. For decades, unease pervaded some academic circles.

"I remember someone saying, 'There's probably an agent monitoring us,'" says Dan Clawson, a sociology professor at UMass who, as an antiwar activist in 1971, stuffed envelopes for the War Resisters League. "I said, 'No, that's not true, we're just not that important.'

"Turns out I was wrong."

In 1968 and 1969, Mr. Clawson and his wife refused to pay a tax on their long-distance telephone bill because they believed the tax helped finance the Vietnam War. As the money they owed mounted -- to $3 -- two FBI agents visited Mr. Clawson's father-in-law at work to ask him to pay, says Mr. Clawson.

Concerns about overzealous law enforcement led to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or Ferpa, which limited the information that colleges could disclose without court orders or student consent. In 1976, Sen. Frank F. Church, an Idaho Democrat, led a committee that criticized the Cointelpro program. Revelations of the FBI's activities fanned resentment against it at colleges.

September 11 reignited debate over balancing civil liberties and national security across all strata of American society. International students and scholars came under harsh scrutiny once news broke that one of the hijackers, Hani Hanjour, had entered the country on a student visa.

The legal cornerstone of the federal government's efforts to protect the country since then is the USA Patriot Act, a law that permits law-enforcement officials, including FBI agents, to apply wide-ranging and invasive techniques to track suspected terrorists, while reducing the level of judicial oversight that might slow down or restrict the use of those tools.

Among other things, the law makes it easier for law-enforcement agencies to share information and repeals some bans on the gathering of personal information.

The law allows the agencies to get search warrants based on less evidence and to keep such warrants secret.

The Patriot Act also alters privacy protections under Ferpa. The U.S. attorney general, his office, and its designees still need court orders to request information, but they can now require colleges not to record such requests. Federal agents can now also forbid colleges to tell people that they are being investigated.

Controversial from the start, the law has fomented raging debates over whether, by expanding powers and lowering accountability in the name of efficiency, it is throttling our liberties in the name of security.
Closer Partnerships

Under the Patriot Act, campus police departments are now working more closely with federal, state, and local authorities on intelligence work. H. Scott Doner is the police chief at Valdosta State University, in Georgia, and president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. He says that, among other changes, colleges now receive e-mail alerts from the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "We're more in touch now."

What most irks campus civil libertarians is that dozens of colleges have assigned campus-police officers to cooperate more closely on investigations that involve their institutions, in some cases creating liaison positions that are part of Joint Terrorism Task Forces with the FBI and other law-enforcement bodies. Most of those officers serve at urban institutions that have many foreign nationals, and they work from one day a month to full time with the FBI. They sometimes have security clearances that prohibit them from telling their campus superiors what they are doing when they're on loan.

That secrecy, asserts Timothy H. Edgar, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, gives the FBI a license to launch an investigation based on little hard evidence. "Basically, it's hard to know about the government's use of this power because so much of it has been done in secret."

Colleges are kept in the loop under such liaison arrangements, counters Lt. Tim McGraw, a public-information officer for the University of Colorado at Boulder's police department. The department has one detective assigned to work with the FBI. "We've never been left in the dark on what he's doing," the lieutenant says. "His accountability is still to the department, not to the FBI."

The liaisons file reports about their activities with their campus bosses, confirms the FBI's Mr. Bresson. And campus police departments value the information they get from the task forces, even if they don't know how the FBI obtained it, says Dolores A. Stafford, chief of police at George Washington University and president-elect of the campus-police association. "The information is more important than how they got the information," she says.

To some observers, the liaisons are justified. "In normal times, establishing a liaison with law enforcement would be seen by many colleges as possibly even chilling," says Michael Greenberger, a law professor at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, director of the university's Center for Health and Homeland Security, and the top counterterrorism official in the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton. "But in this day and age," he continues, "there are two questions colleges need to face: the legitimate needs of law enforcement to do investigations properly authorized by federal law, and that targets of inquiry are adequately protected, advised, counseled, and reassured through the process."

Depending on how that balance tips, the FBI and other agencies can create fear that some believe hinders academic freedom. "If people know law-enforcement agents might investigate them," says Sara Lennox, director of the UMass program on social thought and political economy, "they may not say or do things that the government doesn't like." In the past, people have lost their jobs because authorities linked them, fairly or not, to subversive organizations.

"The particular danger on college campuses," she says, "is that freedom of speech and inquiry is so central to what education is all about."

Faculty unions are on guard. "There's definite concern in this general climate that the USA Patriot Act symbolizes could lead to abuses like in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s," says Mark F. Smith, director of government relations for the American Association of University Professors, which is on the lookout for any abuses that could serve as a legal test case.
Tracking Foreign Students

One of the biggest changes colleges have faced since September 11 is that government and law-enforcement officials are so openly and methodically tracking and investigating foreign nationals. In February, the FBI announced that it wanted to interview all Iraqis -- estimated at 50,000 -- living in the United States. So far, agents have questioned about 5,000, FBI officials say.

Since last September, the federal government has required colleges to keep current their entries in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, a database to track foreign students. The government has also demanded that men from 25 mostly Arab and Muslim countries get photographed and fingerprinted under a special program, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.

The crackdown has spooked international students and scholars. They worry they are being profiled, especially if they are Arab or Muslim, and will be arrested and deported for minor visa infractions, or won't be allowed back into the United States if they leave.

"The overall mood these days is that many international students are feeling they should bend over and let this pass because things aren't rational," says Amr A. Sabry, an associate professor of computer science at Indiana and president of its Islamic Center. But some students "say it's time to leave this country."

That thought petrifies the officials who run universities' lucrative international-student programs. They dread a mass exodus of foreign students to Australian, British, and other institutions that are eager to enroll foreign nationals fed up with their treatment in the United States.

Law-enforcement officers frequently rebut civil-libertarian criticism by saying that current laws are sufficient to protect civil liberties and that some elements of personal privacy must be sacrificed at a time of national crisis.
No Fear?

Some faculty members believe that institutional policies will protect them. At many colleges, the word is out not to talk to the FBI without permission from the administration. Donica Thomas Varner, assistant general counsel at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, says her office handles all requests for information from law-enforcement agencies. "Requests have to be consistent with the Patriot Act," she says. "They need a lawful subpoena."

Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University, agrees. "When a law-enforcement agency requests information," he says, "we're happy to comply with a subpoena, but otherwise we don't."

Mr. Cohon, a civil engineer by training, is also a member of President Bush's Homeland Security Council. He says the council has not explicitly discussed civil liberties. That may be because, despite the widespread campus fears, few colleges have reported actual problems stemming from the heightened security. Musaddak J. Al-Habeeb, the Iraqi professor questioned at UMass, has said that his short interview with the FBI was polite and cleared him of suspicion.

"Even if monitoring exists on campus, interference is highly unlikely," says Ralph M. Stein, a constitutional-law professor at Pace University.

A prevalent misconception about the liaisons is that somehow the FBI link will draw federal agents to colleges, says Ms. Stafford, of George Washington. "What's going to bring federal law enforcement to your campus isn't whether you have someone on a task force," she says. "It's what's happening on your campus."

Indeed, many UMass faculty members say the questioning of Mr. Al-Habeeb has not created a climate of fear on the campus, says Ernest D. May, a professor of music and secretary of the Faculty Senate. "This campus is pretty much as normal," he says, "and this is a pretty outspoken campus."

Still, some faculty members, including Mr. Clawson, the antiwar veteran, are alarmed. While he has not seen any changes at the university yet, he says that the interrogation of Mr. Al-Habeeb might have been the "leading edge of a new wave of repression."

At the University of Idaho, "the fear in our international community is profound," says Elizabeth B. Brandt, a law professor. Students worry they will be interrogated, deported, or kept from their research, she says. She describes one woman, an Indian Muslim, who told her husband to burn his books on radical Islam in case their house was searched.
Tougher Act May Follow

As the war with Iraq continues, the FBI has given every indication that it is increasing the surveillance and questioning of foreign nationals in the United States.

And the Justice Department has drafted the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, informally known as Patriot Act II. Building on the original, the legislation would foster even more sharing of information among government agencies and would increase their access to credit reports and other personal data without the need for subpoenas. It would also grant the attorney general unlimited authority to approve wiretaps and physical searches of property, without judicial approval, for up to 15 days after the United States suffered an "attack creating a national emergency."

More important, the legislation would broaden the definition of terrorism and stiffen punishments for terror-related crimes. A striking provision would enable the government to strip the citizenship from and deport any American citizen who, knowingly or not, helped groups seen as supporting terrorism.

So far, Patriot Act II remains a draft only. The word around Washington is that it might be introduced in Congress soon.

If the legislation is enacted as currently written, colleges may look back on their present anxieties as the good old days.

63. ethan56 - February 12, 2010 at 04:26 am

1. Factsarehelpful thinks Bucharest is a violent devotee of a wierd sci-fi cult. Maybe so. But Professor Hall didn't accuse him of being a violent devotee of a wierd sci-fi cult; he accused him, repeatedly and in public, of being an FBI agent. Factsarehelpful, a faculty-member who accuses the devotee of a wierd sci-fi cult of being an FBI agent is not "a brilliant Educator." And a faculty-member who believes that a student is physically dangerous and perhaps even armed in his classroom, and doesn't report this to the authorities, and instead then verbally assaults and humiliates this potentially armed student in classroom crowded with students, is not "a brilliant Educator" either.

Psuer, on the other hand, believes Bucharest IS an FBI agent. His "evidence", however, is a seven year old article with no mention of PSU, let alone Bucharest. Bucharest's own specific actions in making it easy to trace his anti-Muslim political sympathies make it highly unlikely that he is an FBI agent under cover against Leftists or Muslims (see no. 50, point 1). But if you're worried, psuer, I suggest you put on your tin-foil hat.

64. thundermaker - February 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm

ust as drug dealers need users in order to make a living, so do spy organizations need perpetrators of violence.

And how do drug dealers work? why, they prey on the unsuspecting, vulnerable, and easily manipulated - same as the violence dealers of the government.

So what do these government agencies do to give them a purpose and create the need for them? (and more power and money) Why of course they have to create the violence - just as drug dealers must create addicts.

And this is what we seemingly have here. A person whose job it is to get vulnerable, malleable students to form violent groups and buy illegal weapons so that certain government agencies can get more power for themselves.

These agencies are predators - pure evil. Just like drug dealers preying on young, vulnerable kids.

And to make things worse, the media and university are obviously siding with these provocateurs. Not a coincidence that the president of the university is of like mind as zach.

And on another note, the people who bash the professor on these comments are so obviously megaphoneys (jewish propaganda software program) it is laughable. They use the same techniques over and over again.

It seems like many posters on this site fit the bill of megaphonies.


The fact that something like this exists where people are asked to take a biased side of an issue solely based upon a person's heritage is racism at its lowest form. Israeli supporters are basically manipulating and lying to the public for the sole reason to "protect their own", despite the fact that one of their own might be in the wrong. But right and wrong don't matter to these people, only protecting their own.

And they use the same tactics... put anyone who questions them down... calls them tin hat people, crazy lunatics or anti-semetic. You have done a good job putting people down, but it only makes you look like a loser.

Well, as I am Jewish, I think I have the right to call out other Jews who are an afront to mankind as a whole.

And as the fbi has a standing policy not to comment on its agents, the fact that it TWICE declared Zach not to be an agent proves that he is indeed an agent.

The fact that Zach is still allowed to attend the school and the professor is banned is a complete injustice. The system that allows this behavior (from the university leaders, attorneys involved, magaphone propaganda, and media bias) needs to be dissolved and a new system put in its place. That time is coming and coming fast as people realize how much they have been lied to and manipulated by those in power.

65. ethan56 - February 12, 2010 at 01:21 pm

1. Thundermaker throws out anti-semitic canards, returning the level of discussion here once more to the gutter.

2. If someone is a professional agent deep undercover as an agent provocateur to get Muslim students to engage in violence, the last thing such a person would do is link himself to anti-Muslim websites as Bucharest evidently did. That is called evidence.

3. One must also ask: what is it that would make Muslim students "vulnerable and malleable" to engaging in terrorism within the United States, as Thundermaker states? Doesn't he realize what he is saying?

66. factsarehelpful - February 12, 2010 at 02:11 pm

Hi, ethan56,

Merely positing a question does not imply that one has taken a position on the merits or answer. Email addresses, websites, and, indeed vanity license plates often contain efforts at communication.

The curious email address and website tzhkperez caused me to consider whether a message or identity was contained within what appeared, at first look, like a random collection of letters.

There are other linquistic indicators in this thread. One of the presumably literate professionals has mis-spelled the word weird repeatedly, and is prone to hyperbolic redundancies; both within single paragraphs and within a single post.

While I have been candid about what I did, and why, when this situation presented, I carefully did not reveal whether or not (and, if so, by whom) the student-authored narrative was signed. Only a handfull of people know that piece of the mystery.

ethan, you are obviously very bright. You clearly have a point of view. You may or may not be an academic. What I find mystifying is the alacrity with which you jump to conclusions and draw major inferences from fragmentary data. This is disquieting. You might want to re-read your posts and wonder what clues cause me to be curious about your possible role in this controversy.

67. ethan56 - February 12, 2010 at 03:18 pm

Dear Facts,

I know nobody in this controversy. I'm an academic on the east coast. I get the Chron on my email and happened to read this story.

Facts, the "mere" positing of a question without taking a position on its merits or its answer is something Richard Nixon used to do all the time. "What sinister forces are behind Alger Hiss? I'm just asking..." It's unworthy of you.

You argued first that Hall made a terrible error in the way he acted in class, but then you presented him as a hero ready literally to take a bullet in that class from a deranged student whom he thought might actually be carrying a gun. As I pointed out, if Hall really believed this, it was his duty to inform the police, which he didn't do; and if he really believed this the very last thing he should've done was provoke and humiliate and humiliate this allegedly deranged and dangerous student in public in a crowded class--but that's what he did do. If Hall had been correct, he might not have been the only victim, you know. His behavior was outrageously irresponsible--not heroic. And that's if it wasn't paranoid, which remains a good possibility, given his accusations of this student being an FBI agent. I explained the unlikelihood of that hypothesis, and at one time you agreed with my argument.

Rather than focusing on me, you should be more concerned with the reappearance of classic anti-semitic tropes on this thread.

68. factsarehelpful - February 12, 2010 at 04:39 pm

Hi, Ethan,

I am horrified by the anti-Semetic comments that this controversy has unearthed. Likewise, I am horrified by the presence of an armed student agitating on campus.

I'm no fan of the late Richard Nixon, or his tactics. I was in the streets, in NYC, protesting that at personal peril, during the Viet Nam era.

I was raised to follow authority and accept limitations on my rights to think and act. I spent the first 15 years of my life as a military dependent. Nixon blasted me out of thatbrutally enforced mindset. Ironically, Nixon and his ilk drove my efforts to finish college and acquire graduate education that would help me understand some of the strangeness of life more effectively.

What my quaere raised was a simple question to the students, who are the real parties in interest here. I asked whether the literature, a sci-fi trilogy called The Keepers, might be referenced by the strange email and website names in this fact pattern. Of all the paranoid explanations offered to explain the action of this strange student, this seems the most innocent scenario in an otherwise hair-raising situation.

So, again, I ask the students: Do you see any indications that the strange, armed student (or anyone else on campus) might be operating around an agenda reflecting the literature of The Keepers? It's not an unreasonable question.

Nobody in positions of authority dealt reasonably with this situation. The students are paying money to acquire education in a safe environment. Students, whatever their beliefs or backgrounds, were placed at risk by a pistol-packing peer bragging about killing Palestinians, offering to make 'straw man' purchases of automatic weapons, and offering to teach the best way to build a really effective Molotov Cocktail.

I deeply hope that our tax dollars are at work here; that qualified, objective professionals are connecting the dots and reviewing the policies, procedures and priorities that operated to ignore student reports of an armed agitator on campus and place so many at risk.

Interestingly, today's Oregonian, Metro Section at B-7, outlines a bizarre anti-Semetic situation at the University of Oregon, in Eugene. This, unlike PSU, is a traditional campus. The matter is playing out on very different facts at UofO. It is not clear whether we are just living in 'interesting times,' or whether something more organized is afoot.

Something strange is going on here. I'm old enough to remember the kinds of events posted in the 2003 reprint of domestic surveillance posted to this thread. It required considerable courage to be a conscience-driven academic in those times.

69. ethan56 - February 12, 2010 at 05:06 pm

If Bucharest was really known to be a pistol-packing student, then Professor John Hall's actions in not informing the authorities (thereby backing students' complaints) on grounds that he didn't trust them, and then in confronting this student in a crowded classroom in the middle of a lecture, calling him an FBI agent, humiliating him and verbally assaulting him, photographing him w/o his permission, declaring he was going to put up posters of him around the campus--all this is beyond irresponsible.

70. factsarehelpful - February 13, 2010 at 01:23 pm

I do not see any single person as exceptionally blameworthy in this mess. Everybody, except the hapless students who tried to report the threat of an armed student agitating on campus, failed to act in a reasonable manner. There is more than enough blame to go around.

The question remains: what was the agenda of this strange student?

What I do know, based on a couple decades of personal observation, is that the professor is an excellent and inspirational educator. He is a card-carrying member of the ACLU; not given to violence, but experienced in academic research in Cold War environments--which doubtlessly imprinted his world view. I cannot imagine what triggered his astounding denounciation of the armed student agitator. It was a very poor choice of remedies--even where conventional channels were demonstrably inadequate.

Concerned student's comments, as well as the student-authored narrative which I provided to the Portland Police, appear to confirm the professor's understanding--that campus administration and security were wholly oblivious and/or dissmissive of this crazy situation. Student reports, which were clearly made to appropriate administrators on multiple occasions, failed to elicit a meaningful response.

I am still curious about what, if any, role the violent WWIII fantasies, including a fixation on lethal weapons, that in The Keepers trilogy may have played in this fact pattern.

Has anybody come up with a better interpretation of tzhkperez? Does anybody have personal observations with regard to whether or not the disruptive student was acting out some version of this fantasy on campus? Does anybody have non-hysterical (i.e., asking this question does not equate to anti-Semitism) alternative theories to interpret this unusual choice.

Ethan, you have suggested that this student might have been trying to 'eak out a living' by offering to do illegal gun purchases of automatic weapons for other students. I self-financed half of my undergraduate education and three years of graduate school, as a single parent, without once considering illegal sales of military weapons to students as a potential source of income.

There is nothing ordinary about the choices reflected in this fact pattern. It is important to ask the obvious questions.

And, while we're at it, one must wonder about whether the number 56 in one of the user names in this thread. Does it have any meaning? It could be the year of the participant's birth. It could be arbitrary. It could be a reference to the 1956 War in which the State of Israel accomplished an astounding mobilization and routed its adversaries.

Email names, websites, and user names, like vanity license plates on automobiles, often have meaning. Observing this phenomenon, and inquiring as to its potential significence should not trigger a knee-jerk accusation regarding the motives or intellectual integrity of the one who asks.

I spent a decade deeply involved in Jewish culture, to the point where I seriously considered converting to Judaeism and moving to Israel. I served several years on the state Civil Rights Council.

These experiences and the knowledge it brings cause me to ask questions about a situation which has no obvious explanation.

Lives were placed at risk here. Guns and violence have no place on campus.

Why did the PSU administration and campus security fail to respond to student concerns? That failure is the lynchpin of this outrageous fact pattern. What occasioned that response?

Ultimately, who is this student and what was he trying to accomplish?

71. ethan56 - February 13, 2010 at 01:51 pm

Dear Factsarehelpful,

I agree that the university administration failed to act wisely, and is still (apparently) failing to act wisely regarding this student. That doesn't mean there's a political conspiracy--the Virginia Tech admin failed to take measures vs. Seung-Hui Cho even though they were warned not by students but by a faculty member, and not by an ordinary faculty-member but by the most famous faculty-member on the campus, a person with a world-wide reputation (Nikki Giovanni). Does that failure mean that Cho was an FBI agent? My wife called the police on the disruptive student I've mentioned, but she later got no satisfaction from our University administration either, except he was warned to stay off campus. Sure. So do we conclude that THIS crazy man was an FBI agent being protected by the admin? The problem is where you say it is, with the spinelessness of univ admins (who fear lawsuits), and there's no need for conspiracy theories involving the FBI.

Facts, I'm glad you've gone back to seeing Hall's behavior in class as astounding. Esp. so if Hall honestly thought the student was dangerous and packing a gun, his behavior in that class was beyond irresponsible. (Which makes we wonder what he really did think...)

Speaking of conspiracies, ethan56 was chosen by me because my favorite film is John Ford's great anti-racist western "The Searchers", which was released in May 1956 (get it?) and whose protagonist (not hero) is named Ethan. It made the nick easy for me to remember. It has nothing to do with the 1956 war, and you've made a moon landing with that one.

Facts, I'm glad you didn't do anything illegal to eke out your finances as a student, but that's not an argument against Bucharest perhaps having done so.

And the question: "what is Bucharest trying to accomplish", with which you end your post, assumes (a) he's trying to accomplish something political, and (b) if you mean with Muslim students (selling them illegal weapons and explosives), then the question really is: why would these Muslim students buy them, why would they be so "vulnerable and malleable" (as one blogger put it above)? That's a question, about the ideology of some of these students that people here don't want to put on the table. Yet at heart that's about the nature of the "target" that Bucharest has, for those he thinks he has one.

72. factsarehelpful - February 13, 2010 at 02:20 pm

Hi, Ethan,

See, there are often innocent, very personal reasons for usernames and websites.

I actually do think that trying to 'eak out a living' by making illegal gun purchases is improper. I came out of a totally military environment, but never considered becoming any version of an arms dealer--although the opportunity was presented. It is no more reasonable to finance one's education by dealing weapons to students than it is to deal drugs or run a bordello.

I lack sufficient facts to ascertain the target, if any, of this student's efforts. I do not assume he was seeking to identify any particular group of students who I do not necessarily regard as inherently 'vulnerable and/or maleable;' a characterization I've not made here.

The things I want to know about this situation are basic:
1. What was the agenda driving the bizarre behavior of this 'student?"
2. Why did the PSU administration and security fail to take student concerns regarding a student packing a pistol on campus and offering access to automatic weapons and explosives more seriously.

Although I do not condone the professor's response, I know enough about him to respect his commitment to all of his students; the positive impact of his teaching and writing; and his experience during the Cold War/Viet Nam era which may have made him hypersensitive to an armed agitator on campus.

I dislike conspiracy theories and theorists. Generally, facts properly presented explain most things--like your choice of user name. There are too many missing facts here. I think facts are useful.

73. ethan56 - February 13, 2010 at 03:01 pm

Dear Facts,

We're in agreement on most things.

But there is simply no excuse for Hall's behavior in that classroom. Hall's behavior was totally reprehensible and irresponsible on two levels. (1) NO student should be subjected in public to what Hall did to Bucharest in that class, no matter what the circumstances. (2) If Bucharest WAS dangerous (which is, frankly, unproven, though you assume it), then Hall's behavior put not only himself but the entire class at risk of an explosion which he (Hall), the professor, provoked.

We don't know everything. But we do know Hall's and Bucharest's public behavior that day: Hall was doing something to a student in public and in a classroom which no professor should ever do, whereas Bucharest was calm and dignified under an astounding verbal attack and humiliation. That's not conclusive of anything, but I'd say on the basis of public behavior that one might want to be a bit cautious about your conclusions about how crazy and sinister Bucharest is. (I'm not saying he isn't troublesome.)

We don't know what the PSU admin would have done if the student complaints had been backed by a forceful complaint from a professor. And that's because Hall didn't complain to the administration--which he should have done. True, the Virginia Tech admin didn't act on Nikki Giovanni's complaint about Cho, but we, including the PSU admin, are all now post Virginia Tech. So we don't know what would have happened, because Hall deprived us of the opportunity because of his distrust of the administration, while instead he verbally attacked and humiliated this allegedly armed and dangerous student in a crowded classroom instead! Please--how irresponsible can you get?

I wasn't saying that it's right to eke out a living (you keep misspelling this word--are YOU a professor? Just joking...) by selling illegal arms; I said that just because you, Facts, didn't do it doesn't mean that Bucharest wasn't doing it, that it was for money, not politics. That doesn't make it right, obviously, if he was actually offering to sell guns and explosives to the Muslim students (which we don't know for sure); but it also removes the political or ethnic (Jewish) sting--and it was Hall who raised that perspective, don't forget.

74. realitychick - February 13, 2010 at 08:30 pm

ethan56 and those who think as he does need to be reminded that it is not illegal for anyone in the USA to be a Moslem, a leftist, a socialist, or a communist, and that all of the aforementioned are entitled to the rights of free speech, freedom of assembly, and habeus corpus.

Zacharia Bucharest's youtube profile states:

"About Me: Member of IDF special forces. I am now studying in the USA. I support all things Jewish and anti-terrorist, especially SERBIA!!! They are fighting the same war Israel has been for longer even."

Zacharia Bucharest's Myspace profile states:

"Who I'd like to meet: Moses, Itzhak, Yaakov, Abraham and the Maccabi's so's I could introduce firearms to them. But we got world domination on the under anyway baby, YEEEEEEEEAH!!! And Hitler's parents so I could off them with two double taps..."

Other students have reported that Zacharia Bucharest has displayed a pistol to them that he carried on campus, and that Bucharest has offered to help them obtain assault rifles.

Zacharia Bucharest has also cultivated a relationship with many of the Palestinian students at PSU.

Whatever Zacharia Bucharest's game is, or whoever he does or doesn't work for, his behavior looks like that of a provocateur.

In the 'War on Terrorism', most of acts of terrorism are not perpetrated by real terrorists, but by provocateurs and their patsies.

75. ethan56 - February 13, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Realitychick: The problem is that Bucharest's behavior fits a lot of descriptions, not just yours.

For one thing, Realitychick, no FBI agent (let alone Mossad agent) who was involved in an undercover operation against Muslim students at PSU would have the youtube and facebook profiles you cite, and the sentiments there. That's because anyone with a computer could find out what his real opinions are, and the operation would be exposed. No professional would do this. So Bucharest may be crazy, but he wasn't working for the FBI (let alone Mossad).

But what exactly are you alleging that Bucharest was "provoking" in these Palestinian students he was in contact with (I was right in my hunch on that, Factsarehelpful, though everyone until Realitychick was tiptoe-ing around that topic), and who among those students would be ideologically susceptible to buying assault rifles and explosives from Bucharest and why? You might want think about those questions. (Of course being a Muslim or a communist isn't illegal, Realitychick!--but buying illegal weapons is.)

Realitychick says unnamed students reported that Bucharest had displayed a pistol on campus. If true, then Professor Hall's behavior--(a) his failure to complain to the authorities about Bucharest, backing up the student complaints with those of a professor and pushing the authorities to act, combined with (b) his verbal assault and humiliation of (a possibly dangerous and armed) Bucharest in a crowded class instead--looks even more reprehensible and irresponsible.

In that classroom, Realitychick, the only person who acted over the top was Hall, not Bucharest. I'm not saying Bucharest isn't a troublesome figure. But don't go creating giant conspiracy theories. And think about who is really at fault in this incident.

76. factsarehelpful - February 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm

In the presence of an armed threat, in the context of a sub-vertebrate bureaucracy, one should call the police. Academics are not generally attuned to alternative remedies. Things that would cause an ordinary citizen to dial 911 get sent to committees. This blindspot, in the context of a sub-vertebrate bureaucracy, created a mess.

As noted, there is more than sufficient blame to envelope all parties--except the hapless students exposed to this threat; they did their best.

What is needed now is an intelligent, independent review of the personnel, policies and procedures that ignored the threat inherent in the presence of an armed braggart trotting around the campus seeking customers for illegal weapons and explosives.

The information on this 'student' was readily available. What sane administration would tolerate this kind of threat on a multi-cultural campus at this point in history?

77. ethan56 - February 14, 2010 at 01:20 pm

What sane professor, in the presence of an (allegedly) armed student sitting in a class, stops a lecture that is peacefully going on and then verbally assaults and continually humiliates that allegedly dangerous person in a crowded classroom over and over, taking his photo w/o his permission, saying he's going to put up a wanted poster of him all over campus, calling him a "killer"? Just how irresponsible can you get?

Remember, Hall also continually called Bucharest an undercover FBI agent--which, given the easy access to Bucharest's websites by anybody with a computer, is plain ridiculous (in fact, it looks crazy).

Remember, this is the same professor who didn't complain to the administration about this student because he didn't trust the administration.

I repeat: how irresponsible can you get?

As for Bucharest, he seems a troubled person--just how troubled, we really can't know at this point. But he's not an FBI agent. And in the incident in the classroom he acted calmly and maturely. The same can't be said for Hall.

78. portlandprof - February 15, 2010 at 12:35 am

It is possible to be both a wonderful teacher and mentally ill. A pattern of reporting "spys" on campus would lead to Campus Security being less than interested in yet another report of a "problem" with spys. Frightening a class full of students like this is inexcusable and Hall would know that. But, he seriously believed that he had no choice to prevent a serious threat. His behavior stems from an illness and it would be regrettable if PSU didn't take this as an opportunity to get him into treatment.

79. factsarehelpful - February 16, 2010 at 02:27 pm

PSU has a whole lot to regret here. This incident came with everything but a marching band to announce the presence of a threat on campus. We don't yet have the whole story on the extent that this 'student' was operating on campus to achieve his mystery agenda, but any sane administration should have picked up on this much earlier.

80. realitychick - February 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm

It is a matter of public record that both the CIA and Mossad have both overt and covert programs in place to infiltrate university campuses in the USA.

Zacharia Bucharest would not be the first intellegence agency agent to behave in a way that reveals his hidden agenda.

The trial records of the 1993 WTC bombing reveal that a team of FBI agents supplied the explosives, the van, and the logistics to carry out the 1993 WTC bombing. Their Moslem patsies didn't want to go through with it and tried to back out, but the FBI men insisted that the attack should proceed.

If Zacharia Bucharest is not working for an intelligence agency, Bucharest is, by his own account, a Jewish supremacist who glorifies violence against Moslems. He is also a man with sniper and close-order-combat training who has displayed a gun to students on campus and offered to procure assault rifles for students.

John Hall is a whistleblower. It would be a travesty of justice to hold John Hall accountable for outing Zach Bucharest in the classroom, without a thorough examination of the Administrative culture that made John Hall disinclined to report the complaints about Zack Bucharest through proper channels. There may be individuals holding high rank in the PSU Administration who approve of allowing agent-provocateurs to operate on campus.

More importantly, there needs to be a thorough investigation of the complaints about Zach Bucharest, regardless of whether he is an agent or acting solo.

81. factsarehelpful - February 18, 2010 at 02:13 pm

Well said.

82. concernedstudents - March 03, 2010 at 09:18 pm

If you started with Hall's course in Comparative Economics in early January, it would be hard to understand his actions.
I was in the Fall course, Institutional Economics.
Aganst Hall's wishes, Bucharest (ZB) insisted and then went ahead and wrote a term paper arguing the relative inferiority of the AR-15 rifle to the AK-47. A strange subject for a course built around Veblenian theory. To make the course yet stranger, on the day that ZB was to present his research, he appeared in the classroom with a green bag. He made his presentation by pulling out of the sack the barrel and mechanism of an AR-15 rifle. ZB then pulled out the stock. This display of ZB's affinity for weapons shocked us all. Those who mised the Fall Term course failed to understand the foundations for Hall's actions. My classmates and I uderstood what he was doing in the last ten minutes of lecture on the 14th of Januaryy. We were by then aware that ZB held a concealed fire arm permit, and that he was paraniod and especially agitated at the start of the Winter term. Hall sought to protect us students, and he exposed ZB ever so effectively. Hall ended ZB's culture of fear and his intimidation of us in short order. Investigations into ZB's background and activities need to begin. Police suggest he has lived by at least one alias, perhaps more.
Concerned Students

83. arielski - March 08, 2010 at 01:12 am

factsarehelpful said "the strange email address and website of the student whose statements and activities occasioned such turmoil is tzhkperez. I've been trying to understand whether this set of letters has any meaning.

Attempts to sound out the strange word come out to something approximately like...well, The Keepers, once one utilizes a bit of Eastern European phonetics and pop culture spelling, where the letter 'z' often substitutes for the letter 's.'"

Facts, I think the user name means "Zach Perez". In Hebrew, the "tz" sound is a fricative, the "t" barely pronounced. So, "tzhk" sounds like "Zach" especially when you understand there are no vowels in the Hebrew language.

See? ... nothing insidious at all.

I noticed a passage in Professor Hall's "letter" to the FBI that has me wondering if some may have overlooked a significant feature of Hall's obvious paranoia and irrational behavior. Hall wrote, "He informed he that he had left Brooklyn, New York and joined the Israeli Defense Force at the age of 18 ... He likewise informed me that during his long and willful stint in the military that he participated in quite a bit of military action ..."

Question: Why would Hall see military service as "willful", as if there was something wrong with it? If Hall has unfavorable opinions of military veterans it's just as well that he won't be teaching at PSU (or any other college) in the future.

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