Controversial Oberlin Professor Suspended Over Anti-Israeli Comments

1456789323213We previously discussed the controversy surrounding Oberlin Professor Joy Karega, who has attracted fervent criticism for her social media comments including blaming Israel for the 9/11 attacks. In a move that will magnify the free speech issues discussed earlier, Karega has been suspended with pay as assistant professor of rhetoric and composition.

1456780943903Karega reportedly posted controversial statements after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, including a picture showing an Islamic State terrorist with a Star of David tattoo pulling off a mask, exposing the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She added “This ain’t even hard. They unleashed Mossad on France and it’s clear why.” She explained that the massacre was part of a conspiracy to stop French support for Palestinians. She also posted a statement that Islamic State is not Islamic, but rather “a CIA and Mossad operation” and even frustration that “there’s too much information out here for the general public not to know this.”

Then there is her view that “Israeli and Zionist Jews” orchestrated the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

I previously expressed concern over the inconsistent approach of universities and colleges to controversial statements made by academics on social media. My long-standing view is that such statements are an exercise of free speech as well as academic freedom in many circumstances. Oberlin President Marvin Krislov appeared to side with free speech when the controversy was first raised. However, this week Oberlin issued a statement saying the school had been “considering carefully the grave issues surrounding the anti-Semitic postings on social media by Oberlin faculty member Dr. Joy Karega.”

Karega in turn referred to her representative, Chui Karega, who denounced the school as “being used as a personal tool of religious extremism by a small number of people.” Chu Karega further accused the school of “pandering to the dictates of a handful of vocal and wealthy religious zealots, has set out to push Dr. Karega out of her faculty position at Oberlin.”

The issue in this case is really not the merits but the threshold question of whether academics should be allowed to express their views on such issues regardless of their objectionable or questionable content. If not, it is difficult to see where the line is to be drawn between permissible and sanctionable speech. There are obviously a wide array of pro and anti speech related to Palestinians and Israeli policies or conduct. Much of this speech is heavily steeped in historical, religious, and political viewpoints. The emphasis should be on whether there is evidence of bias displayed toward students. Obviously, Oberlin is not a state school and thus does not fall under the rules government government parties. Yet, free speech is the coin of the academic realm. It is essential to learning that students and faculty feel free to exchange views as part of an open and robust debate.

What do you think?

58 thoughts on “Controversial Oberlin Professor Suspended Over Anti-Israeli Comments

  1. Autumn:

    No matter what side of any issue people fall on, they definitely need to talk about the issues and not get personal.

    It seems to be a growing problem. We can’t seem to debate or disagree anymore. We’re all throwing poop on each others’ shoes. I personally support the existence of Israel as their religious homeland and the solution to the Jewish diaspora. We promised it after WWI, and look what happened to the Jews by WWII, creating greater urgency. However, people who oppose Israel’s right to exist have the right to voice their opinion. If I can’t bear to hear their reasoning, then I don’t have a well reasoned opinion myself.

    Here is a Tweet from the Anti-Defamation League about BLM, which is used to believe in wholeheartedly:

    “But would-be allies in the struggle for civil and human rights along with justice and fair treatment cannot ignore the Platform’s false and blatantly one-sided position on US-Israel relations and Israeli-Palestinian issues. We categorically reject the document’s criticism of the United States and Israel as being ‘complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.’ The Jewish community knows too much about genocide. It’s repellent and completely inaccurate. And the Platform completely ignores incitement and violence perpetrated against Israelis by some Palestinians, including terror inside the country and rocket attacks lobbed from Gaza.”

  2. Warning! Warning! Danger Will Robinson! *

    Institutional indoctrination of Academic Jihad occurring on our campuses of higher learning!

    Don’t forget to scream like a little girl right after you read that.

    *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GydbuH4C8QA

  3. Surprisingly perhaps, she doesn’t teach in a victimology program, but a real subject with some pedigree:

    https://new.oberlin.edu/arts-and-sciences/departments/rhetoric/faculty_detail.dot?id=554ba217-4dcc-4940-a5a1-a5ea7745d982

    Of course, it’s not a subject that has much in the way of operational measures of competence and it sounds as if her work is suffused with thrift-shop markdown sociology.

    The problem with this woman, of course, is that you can taste the crazy.

  4. Seems to me that anyone who questions Zionism or defends Palestine’s right to exist is labeled as such.

    Well, it’s like this, Autumn.

    Israel has made a half-dozen separate attempts since 1967 to devolve authority over the West Bank and Gaza or turn these territories over either to a locally sovereign body or to another Arab state. In 1967, the Arab states in conference rejected any negotiations over the territories. In 1972 and 1976, the government of Israel attempted to set up elected municipal authorities therein. The populace therein responded by electing revanchists (nearly everywhere). In 1978, the government of Israel signed an agreement with Egypt which incorporated a plan to turn the West Bank and Gaza over to a local authority. Whatever PM Begin may have intended was rendered moot as the PLO rejected any discussions with Israel and orchestrated a diplomatic ostracidm of Egypt. In 1993, Israel signed an agreement with the PLO for a multi-stage transfer of the West Bank and Gaza to an Arab authority. What they got was seven years of deteriorating security as the PLO set up its criminal syndicates followed by a debacle in which the PLO walked out of final settlement talks and started a bombing campaign which eventually claimed a four digit population of Jews. In 2004, the government of Israel voluntarily evacuated Gaza without compensation. The response of the local population was to trash infrastructure devoted to producing vegetables; the response of Arab politicians was to divert overseas aid to harassment projects (including tunnel construction and artilliery attacks on Jewish towns). In 2008, the government of Israel presented a plan for a final settlement to the head honcho on the West Bank. It included ceding all of the West Bank and dismantling the settlements. He hemmed and hawed and turned the offer down.

    An examination of public opinion surveys taken in the West Bank and Gaza over the period running from 2003 to 2008 (accessible via Polling the Nations gives a clue to the source of this behavior. North of 35% of the respondents to these polls tell the pollster that dissolution of the State of Israel is a non-negotiable component of a ‘solution’. Another 30% prefer the slow boat, telling the pollster that a non-negotiable component is that a 7-digit population of Arabs must be given a franchise to settle in Israel as part of any deal (“right of return”). So, you’ve got maybe a third of the Arab population on the West Bank and Gaza who are interested in making a deal. The last competitive elections held on the West Bank and Gaza featured the following: about 40% went to Al Fatah, a set of criminal syndicates responsible for all the double-dealing which went on between 1993 and 2000. About 45% went to HAMAS, who make their hatred of and aspirational violence toward the Jews unmistakably clear. Another 7% went to a red-brown coalition scarcely friendlier to the Jews than is HAMAS. Parties wanting a settlement scored < 10% of the vote.

    So, Israel has no negotiating partner and cannot do much but take unilateral measures (such as fencing and armed checkpoints) to attend to its security. Yet, you have all this complaining about 'the occupation' blah blah blah by people who fancy that Israel is morally obligated to cut its own throat. Here's the dirty secret about advocates of the Arab cause: they fall into the following categories: the bone ignorant, the plum stupid, and people striking poses while hoping for an ethnic cleansing extravaganza in Israel. Advocates of the Arab cause are neither intellectually nor morally serious.

  5. Autumn – why would you read tripe like “Cowardly, Hypocritical, Subservient Congressional Black Caucus Endorses Israeli Apartheid and Current War Crimes in Gaza” and “How Today’s Liberal Zionists Echo Apartheid South Africa’s Defenders.”” We only have so much time in our life. We should not waste it.

    She reads that tripe because vulgarian malice is inventory she’s willing to collect.

  6. Google wipes Palestine off its map

    The League of Nations Mandate of Palestine was a collection of Ottoman subprefectures assembled by the British government. There was no such assemblage of territory prior to 1920 or after 1948 so, no, it is not to be found on aught but historic maps. The subprefecture boundaries were drawn only in 1866. The territories they delineate had town and village dwellers who spoke a local vernacular on the Levantine spectrum of Arab dialects along with a Bedouin population who spoke a vernacular on the Eastern Bedouin spectrum. There were neighboring territories with Arab populations quite similar to both. There was no distinct ‘Palestinian’ Arab type and the population’s loyalties were to lineages or to the Ottoman sultan or to Islam or to a greater Syria or to the Arab world in general. It was not until around 1968 that a ‘Palestinian’ self-concept was highly generalized in that population.

  7. Semite is a family of languages spoken not only by Jews. How can one be anti-Semitic without also being anti-Arab?

    Because the use of language is conventional. “Anti-semitic” is a late 19th century neologism coined as something of a euphamism. It specifically refers to Jews, not to Arabs or ancient Akkadians or anyone else who might have spoken an Semitic language.

  8. And I think the National Black Caucus folks are Uncle Toms – selling out their own people for the Clinton machine. Ugh!

    That’s a nonsense statement.

    The systemic problem with black politicians is that they generally demonstrate little or no interest in public order or effective schooling even though rank-and-file blacks are suffering from both high levels of street crime and disorderly schools wherein unserious pedagogy is common. Instead, black pols are all about bulking up racial patronage schemes and distributing more swag to welfare clients.

  9. Oberlin needs to quit messing with her ideas. Rebut them, but don’t dampen them. This is the administration’s fault.

    She has no ideas. She’s just a ranting ass-clown.

    Al Reardon: analogizing her ideas to a ’30s Nazi group is way over the top, but I’m sure our 51st state (and, no, I don’t mean Puerto Rico or Wash., D.C.) enjoys the sentiment

    The U.S. extends grants to Israel for them to buy military equipment. The grants amount to about 1.2% of Israel’s domestic product. The U.S. could withdraw the grants tomorrow (as BO would certainly like to do) and the result would be an ordinary business recession creating some fiscal problems that Israel could work out over a business cycle.

    Israelis have since 1920 built up an affluent state (with standards of living similar to those of Mediterranean Europe) in external circumstances as inclement as any country has faced in the post-war period. It also has the most capable military (pound for pound) of any non-occidental country. No clue why (other than ignorance or malice) you insist on referring to them as if they were a creature of the United States.

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