Florida Atlantic University Gender Studies Professor Arrested at Pro-Hamas Protest

Nicole Morse, a self-described 'trans feminist' who accused Israel of 'war crimes,' blocked entrance to government office

Jewish Voice for Peace's South Florida chapter rallies in front of Sen Rick Scott's Miami office (Twitter/Jewish Voice for Peace South Florida)
October 24, 2023

A Florida Atlantic University gender studies professor who has labeled Israel an "apartheid regime" and accused the Jewish state of "war crimes" was arrested at a pro-Hamas rally in South Florida, the Washington Free Beacon found.

Coral Gables police last week arrested Nicole "Nikki" Morse at a "stand with Palestine" rally held outside of Sen. Rick Scott's (R., Fla.) office. While local news outlets identified Morse as a member of the anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace, she is better known as a professor at Florida Atlantic University, where she specializes in trans studies, gender studies, and queer theory. Morse—who blocked the entrance to the office and refused to comply after police asked her to move—has railed against the Jewish state, writing in an Oct. 12 op-ed that Israel is an "apartheid regime" that commits "war crimes" and subjects "Palestinians" to "brutal oppression."

"For 75 years, Palestinians have faced brutal oppression, and every U.S. taxpayer is complicit in this violence and oppression," Morse wrote. "The root of today's violence is this history of oppression, which is funded by the U.S. and supported without question by South Florida politicians."

Morse's arrest at the rally reflects the explosion in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic advocacy from university faculty. Professors across the country have defended and even praised Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, which killed at least 1,300 Israelis, including women and children. At a Cornell University rally, for example, history professor Russell Rickford called the attack "exhilarating" and "energizing." An Albany Law School assistant professor similarly praised the "Palestinian resistance," while Yale professor Zareena Grewal called Israel a "murderous, genocidal settler state" that Hamas terrorists "have every right to resist."

Morse did not respond to a request for comment. The professor following her arrest deleted her Twitter account, which described her as a "prison abolitionist" and "trans feminist." The Coral Gables Police Department confirmed Morse's identity and said Morse was charged with trespassing, a misdemeanor that in Florida can bring a punishment of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Jewish Voice for Peace's South Florida chapter organized the rally, during which attendees called for a ceasefire and accused Israel of overseeing a "genocide in Gaza." One of the rally's leaders, meanwhile, spread the debunked claim that Israel bombed a Gaza Strip hospital, killing hundreds. An errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad missile actually caused the blast, the U.S. intelligence community found.

Jewish Voice for Peace, which receives extensive funding from liberal billionaire George Soros's Open Society Foundations, has staged similar rallies around the country. The group last week led a protest that saw hundreds of attendees infiltrate the Capitol building. "We refuse to standby as the Israeli government commits genocide against Palestinians in Gaza," Jewish Voice for Peace said in a social media post that showed one of its members being arrested.

The group also blamed the Jewish state for Hamas's attack, saying in a statement that "inevitably, oppressed people everywhere will seek—and gain—their freedom."

"We all deserve liberation, safety, and equality," the statement read. "The only way to get there is by uprooting the sources of the violence, beginning with our own government's complicity."

It's unclear if Morse's presence and subsequent arrest at the South Florida protest will land her in hot water with her employer. Florida Atlantic University, a public institution based in Boca Raton, has issued statements expressing support for the "Israeli community" and "Israel's right to defend itself." The university did not return a request for comment.

Despite Morse's anti-Israel advocacy, the professor's academic work does not cover the Middle East. Instead, Morse focuses on subjects such as "LGBTQ cultural production" and "media that examines diversity within LGBTQ communities, especially issues related to race, class, incarceration, and misogyny." In her 2022 book Selfie Aesthetics: Seeing Trans Feminist Futures in Self-Representational Art, for example, Morse "examines how trans feminine artists use selfies and self-representational art to explore transition, selfhood, and relationality."