Illinois Sanctioned By AAUP Over Termination of Professor For Anti-Israeli Views

dJZiSXft_400x400We previously wrote about the decision of the University of Illinois to withdraw the employment of Professor Steven Salaita due to his publication of anti-Israel views on Twitter. I raised concerns over the decision as punishing an academic for views expressed outside of the classroom. It appear that the American Association of University Professors has the same concerns. The AAUP has passed a censure of the University — a significant sanction for a university that has strived to be included among the top school.

Steven Salaita had already been offered a tenured position in the American Indian studies program on the Champaign-Urbana campus and was just waiting for approval by the university’s Board of Trustees, usually a perfunctory stage. However, Salaita posted strongly anti-Israeli sentiments after the start of the recent war in Gaza. After those postings, he was informed that the university was rescinding its offer due to opposition on the board.

Salaita is a former associate professor at Virginia Tech. He was offered the new job with an $85,000 salary last October to begin on January 2014. The University was enthusiastic about his joining the faculty. In a letter from Brian Ross, the interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, he was told “Please let me express my sincere enthusiasm about your joining us. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a wonderfully supportive community, and it has always taken a high interest in its newcomers. I feel sure that your career can flourish here, and I hope earnestly that you will accept our invitation.” Salaita signed the offer letter and accepted the position.

The situation changed when Salaita turned to Twitter to express his views about the Israeli attacks in Gaza. For example, on June 20, after three Israelis were kidnapped and killed, Salaita wrote: “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the (expletive) West Bank settlers would go missing.” Then, on July 22, he wrote: “#Israel kills civilians faster than the speed of 4G.”

He has also tweeted that “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.” In another tweet he suggested that journalist Jeffrey Goldberg ought to get “the pointy end of a shiv.”

UIUC_seal.svgJust a couple weeks after those tweets, on August 1st, U. of I. Chancellor Phyllis Wise informed Salaita in an email that the offer was being rescinded because his appointment was subject to approval by the university’s board of trustees, and the appointment would not be submitted to the board: “We believe that an affirmative Board vote approving your appointment is unlikely. We therefore will not be in a position to appoint you to the faculty … Thank you for your interest in and consideration of the University of Illinois.”

crnelsonHowever, U. of I. English professor Cary Nelson, former national president of the American Association of University Professors, supports the decision to rescind the offer. He notes that Salaita had not yet been formally hired and that his tweets showed that he was “not the right fit for the campus.” He views the tweets as anti-Semitic and can be viewed as linked to his work: “It is because the tweets are an extension of his publication, they are central to his work and many feel they cross the line into anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism does (bother me) and what appears to be almost a solicitation of violence.” Nelson has been criticized on the Internet by advocacy groups for being part of an effort to block Salaita due to his views.

However, the connection to his work is precisely the point for many of his supporters who note that the university was already aware of his views since he is the author of a 2011 book, “Israel’s Dead Soul.” He has a long academic interest in colonialism and Palestine. This also includes his book, The Holy Land in Transit: Colonialism and the Quest for Canaan: Middle East Studies Beyond Dominant Paradigms (Syracuse University Press). He is also part of a large number of faculty members who have called for boycotting Israeli academic institutions.

The AAUP has denounced the University of Illinois for violating academic freedom. In an email sent to faculty on Saturday, University Chancellor Phyllis Wise said the decision was “disappointing, but not unexpected.”

There continues to be an uncertain line drawn as to what comments are deemed sufficient to terminate academics as shown recently by the controversy surrounding Saida Grundy at Boston University. For academics, uncertainty over what they can say is a direct threat to academic freedom. There seems no discernible line between comments attacking whites (Grundy) and comments attacking Israel. Indeed, Grundy’s comments referred to students and faculty on campus. We have discussed how people are increasingly being punished for statements on social media. This trend is far more worrisome when it is used to terminate academics for expressing unpopular views or theories. For that reason, as offensive as I found her comments, I viewed Grundy’s comments are protected and supported the decision not to termination her. I prefer a bright line rule than the fluid standard that emerges from these cases.

What do you think?

113 thoughts on “Illinois Sanctioned By AAUP Over Termination of Professor For Anti-Israeli Views”

  1. The Donald running for Prez? I can see his campaign literature now: Vote for the Guy with the Feral Toupee!! Whatever happened to his lawsuit against Bill Maher? Sad to say, but his Presidency might not turn out any worse than the Presidencies of any of the other Republicans who have formally declared their candidacy.

    And I’m not enamored of Hillary, either, even though in my view she is at least marginally superior to most, if not all, of the Republican candidates. I’ve almost reached the conclusion that i shouldn’t cast my vote for President for anyone who really wants the job.

    As for Salaita, I’m somewhat conflicted. He clearly is an a$$. But that alone should not disqualify him. Nor should his views about israel. His comment about the shiv is over the line, however. Yes, we want to encourage free speech at Universities. And like the situation with the other Profs discussed here, my default position is that Profs should get lots of leeway regarding their public speech if they treat students fairly in class, etc.. But I think U of I (my alma mater) gets a pass from me for not hiring someone who expresses a desire that a person gets stabbed…

  2. @CK07

    Whew! Thanks! I needed a good laugh like that! Oh, my tummy hurts I laughed sooo hard. Anyway, here is you an example of something that you have probably only heard of in a theoretical sense—somebody for whom EVIDENCE caused them to change their opinion:

    Benny Morris was the radical Israeli historian who forced his country to confront its role in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Later he was jailed for refusing to do military service in the West Bank. But now he has changed his tune. As the cycle of violence in the Middle East intensifies, he launches a vicious attack on the ‘inveterate liar’ Yasser Arafat – and explains why he believes a peaceful coexistence is impossible:

    The rumour that I have undergone a brain transplant is (as far as I can remember) unfounded – or at least premature. But my thinking about the current Middle East crisis and its protagonists has in fact radically changed during the past two years. I imagine that I feel a bit like one of those western fellow travellers rudely awakened by the trundle of Russian tanks crashing through Budapest in 1956.

    Palestinians and their sympathisers have blamed the Israelis and Clinton for what happened: the daily humiliations and restrictions of the continuing Israeli semi-occupation; the wily but transparent Binyamin Netanyahu’s foot-dragging during 1996-99; Barak’s continued expansion of the settlements in the occupied territories and his standoffish manner toward Arafat; and Clinton’s insistence on summoning the Camp David meeting despite Palestinian protestations that they were not quite ready. But all this is really and truly beside the point: Barak, a sincere and courageous leader, offered Arafat a reasonable peace agreement that included Israeli withdrawal from 85-91% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip; the uprooting of most of the settlements; Palestinian sovereignty over the Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem; and the establishment of a Palestinian state. As to the Temple Mount (Haram ash-Sharif) in Jerusalem’s Old City, Barak proposed Israeli-Palestinian condominium or UN security council control or “divine sovereignty” with actual Arab control. Regarding the Palestinian refugees, Barak offered a token return to Israel and massive financial compensation to facilitate their rehabilitation in the Arab states and the Palestinian state-to-be.

    Instead of being informed, accurately, about the Israeli peace offers, the Palestinians have been subjected to a nonstop barrage of anti-Israeli incitement and lies in the PA-controlled media. Arafat has honed the practice of saying one thing to western audiences and quite another to his own Palestinian constituency to a fine art. Lately, with Arab audiences, he has begun to use the term “the Zionist army” (for the IDF), a throwback to the 1950s and 1960s when Arab leaders routinely spoke of “the Zionist entity” instead of saying “Israel”, which, they felt, implied some form of recognition of the Jewish state and its legitimacy.

    I don’t believe that Arafat and his colleagues mean or want peace – only a staggered chipping away at the Jewish state – and I don’t believe that a permanent two-state solution will emerge. I don’t believe that Arafat is constitutionally capable of agreeing, really agreeing, to a solution in which the Palestinians get 22-25% of the land (a West Bank-Gaza state) and Israel the remaining 75-78%, or of signing away the “right of return”. He is incapable of looking his refugee constituencies in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Gaza in the eye and telling them: “I have signed away your birthright, your hope, your dream.”

    And he probably doesn’t want to. Ultimately, I believe, the balance of military force or the demography of Palestine, meaning the discrepant national birth rates, will determine the country’s future, and either Palestine will become a Jewish state, without a substantial Arab minority, or it will become an Arab state, with a gradually diminishing Jewish minority. Or it will become a nuclear wasteland, a home to neither people.

    This was just an excerpt. The full story is at:

    You might actually want to try what Morris did on for size. That is, receive information contradictory to your opinion, and then reconsider your opinion in light of that information. Trust me, it doesn’t hurt! It actually feels quite good.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  3. “As recently as a decade or so ago Jews were part of a protected group. They have gone from protected status afforded black people, gays and other demographics to almost open season.”
    How is that true when comments about the need for an end to new settlements in gaza are deemed anti-Semitic, and any comment about Bibi being a hawkish leader is treated in similar regard? I have many Jewish friends and think Israels right to exist is worth protecting. That being said, it’s easier to criticize America’s actions internationally than it is to criticize Israel’s. I think it’s partly due to the right identifying more with Bibi and helping equate those who dislike him with those who dislike Jews. Of course liberals who wouldn’t agree with his or Sharon’s policies tend to be the victims of such accusations. I personally think the best chance of peace went out the window with the death of Arafat. Still some of the professors comments went beyond passion for the subject.

  4. Good comment by Nick. Good comment by Squeeky about the South.

    This Salita guy is a dork.

  5. Nick

    The difference between making crude and ugly remarks about white folks, as you call them, and making slanderous and vilifying comments about those who are either Jewish or Zionist, is that at no time in history have fat white folks been the target for annihilation on a massive scale. The same steady effort to demonize and dehumanize Jews occurred in Nazi Germany, and it paved the way for treating them as subhuman. The reaction, to the rabidly antisemitic rants of some lunatics on this thread, triggers an anger and an instinctive fear not necessarily apparent in others who have not been on the receiving end of the consequences of such verbalized

  6. As recently as a decade or so ago Jews were part of a protected group. They have gone from protected status afforded black people, gays and other demographics to almost open season. It is always open season on fat white people. You can speak w/ impunity about fat white folk. It’s not quite there yet for Jews, but in a few years it may be. This shocking transition is both fascinating and disgusting to me. My feeling about Jews has been constant. I was raised to respect their culture that emphasizes family, faith, education, and achievement. That has not changed, nor has my respect.

  7. Salaita’s mistake was directing his vitriol towards a group that progressives have not universally and unilaterally decided to be certified Oppressors (Registered Trademark). Had he hoped that straight, white, educated men, or members of a group largely comprised of such, should all get shivved, U of I surely would have thrown him a parade and immediately expelled anyone who dared suggest that a university ostensibly committed to creating “safe spaces” and preventing any student from hearing anything said that might offend their delicate sensibilities might consider such speech unacceptable, given the blatant hatred motivating it. That’s why progressive groups are currently in the process of beatifying Grundy, while Salaita only merits a tut-tutting from a labour-lobbying group.

  8. @Jim Crow

    The Southern Jews aren’t like all those Yankee Jews. Our Jews are sensible people, who have guns, and hunt, and fish, and go to football games, and do stuff just like regular people. The Yankee Jews are into all kinds of weird political stuff. Plus, down South you don’t see any of those weird looking Jews, unless you are going to see a production of Fiddler On The Roof.

    Plus, Yankees, Jewish or Gentile, really seem to be into all that “self-hating” stuff. Meanwhile, down here in the South, we tend to admire the way the Israelis kick a$$ and take names. Sooo, no there isn’t much real anti-Semitism down here. I should know, because there is a Jew or two in my family’s woodpile.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. But getting back to the fruit in the photo who the University of Illinois did not hire. One picture says a thousand words. Why dont you hire him Harvard?

  10. I see now that an avenue of berating Jews is to cloud the hatred with a criticism of Israel. Next we will be seeing Black people berated for living in some place like Baltimore or Ferguson.

    Down South here there are not as many Jews as one sees up North. So the Jew hatred is less keen than hatred expressed against others. Back in the civil rights days tho a large number of Jews supported the Blacks in the civil rights protests and in fact got killed by the Klan. The Klan liked to say that those three guys were just a bunch of trouble causing Jews. Anyone recall that event from 1963 era?

  11. @Patriot

    My website is NOT one-sided. Me and my BFF Fabia Sheen, Esq., an attorney, actually DEFENDED Mike Zullo, once in an online challenge! I promise! We used what is known as a “Mezvinsky Plea”, which the lawyers and legal types here will now about:
    Caption: Flanked By Fabia Sheen, Esq. and Squeeky Fromm, Mike Zullo Mugs For The Camera


    Comes now, the Defendant, Mike Zullo, by and through his attorney, Fabia Sheen, Esq. and in defense to the specific charges of Fraud, and other conduct in violation of 18 USC § 1343, including but not limited to lying, cheating, tampering with documents, frightening elderly residents of a nursing home, providing legal advice while not licensed as an attorney, champerty and maintenance, and transporting Birthers across state lines for the purpose of providing false testimony, states that:

    1. The Defendant hereby notifies the Court in accordance with, and pursuant to, F.R.Crim.P.12.2(a) et. seq., that he intends to plead insanity (A Mezvinsky Plea), as an exculpatory defense.

    2. At all times relevant, the Defendant operated under the debilitating effects of a psychotic delusion.

    3. The Defense does not, at this time, contemplate the calling of expert witnesses due to the open and obvious nature of this psychotic disorder, and presents a partial list of his erratic behavior, to wit:

    a. The Defendant believed he was a law enforcement officer and the leader of a posse which traveled across the country, including several trips to Hawaii, to obtain information;

    b. The Defendant believed that he was on a special mission to prove that then President Barack H. Obama was an illegal usurper in the office, who had obtained that office by means of a forged birth certificate;

    c. Fantastically, while unable to obtain actual physical possession of the aforementioned document, the Defendant maintained he had proven forgery by the examination of an online image of the document; and

    d. The Defendant blatantly ignored several communications with the appropriate Hawaii state officials to the effect that the document was genuine;

    4. While the Defendant does not believe that expert testimony is necessary due to the overwhelming evidence of mental dysfunction, he does intend to present confidential testimony from a member of the aforesaid posse to the effect that:

    a. In addition to the victims, Posse members were also taken on weekly rides, via horseback;

    b. On these excursions, which the Defendant called “training sessions”, Posse members were required to pretend they had pursued and captured such diverse characters as Billy the Kid, Doc Ock(sp?), and The Masked Forger;

    c. Posse members were provided secret Posse decoder rings and required to communicate through means of coded messages; and

    d. Posse members were required to sign confidentiality agreements that they would keep these activities and others, secret.

    5. These are obviously NOT the actions of a person in full control of their mental faculties and the Defendant prays this Honorable Court take judicial notice of this fact, since the Defendant has already spent all the money he surreptitiously obtained, and is unable to adequately compensate his attorney.

    6. The Defendant, pleading now as a Third Party Plaintiff, further seeks permission to add as Third Party Defendants, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Jerome Corsi, and John Does 1-100, to be named at a future time, for their intentional and reprehensible conduct in taking advantage of the Defendant’s impaired mental condition in criminal violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

    For this, and all other just and proper relief, the Defendant earnestly pleads.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Fabia Sheen, Esq.

    More here, if you are interested:

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  12. Someone said: something like: all friggin lie like dogs.
    Why would any human think that dogs lie? Where does that phrase come from?
    First of all, many of you do not talk to dogs. Or you cannot really interpret what the dog says. Few even believe there is such a device as the Dogologue Machine.

    This dog does not lie. You can let sleeping dogs lay but that is different than calling a dog a liar or all dogs liars.

    I guess I can say that some of you humans lie like New Yorkies.

  13. Savannah Guthrie is an attorney and member of the DC bar. A bar complaint has been filed against her
    Other persons of interest in this crime are DC bar members Robert F Bauer and Judith L Corley

    To: DC Bar’s Case Manager Trish Harris and other staff of the Office of Bar Counsel

    Dear Ms. Harris,

    I would like to learn the progress on my complaint against member Savannah Guthrie. She has committed fraud on the NBC national news in verifying Obama’s forged birth certificate.

    Thank you

  14. @Bams

    Oh, her lying stuff didn’t used to bother me because they all frigging lie like dogs. But she has just gone too far with the special treatment stuff. My goodness, her own personal email server, and complete disregard of the rules??? Sometimes, you just have to change your mind about stuff. Plus, sad to say, Patriot may be right about the “Wall Street prostitute” stuff. I mean all that money to the Foundation, and 90% goes for “expenses”???

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

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