Chancellor Wise, why not accept the scholarly inquiry of your colleagues over the politicized judgment of Salaita’s critics?

US Politics
on 34 Comments

26 August 2014
Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise
University of Illinois

Dear Chancellor Wise,

As a long-time participant in the university world, I implore you to reverse your decision in regard to Professor Steven Salaita and now to recommend the approval of his appointment to the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I write you as an admirer of the remarkable achievements of the historians, literary scholars, and anthropologists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  I have seen the lively and creative exchange among professors and graduate students close up as an invited guest of the History Department, and cannot believe that you would want to jeopardize this learning experience by the inappropriate and misguided criterion of civility.

I write further as a Jew, growing up in Detroit during the rise of Nazism and the anti-Semitic sermons of Father Coughlin; a Jew committed to that strand in the Jewish sensibility that still places justice and universal values at its heart; committed to the uses of rabbinical and Talmudic debate, which sought truth by language not always decorous; and to the old tradition of Jewish humor, which put laughter and mockery to the service of helping the oppressed.

As a distinguished physiologist, you have surely heard “disrespectful words” among scientists as they argued the pros and cons of research.  I certainly have, as I listened to scientists go at it on grant committees, including when the important subject of gender-based biology was on the table.   If words thought “demeaning” were uttered, the speaker was not excluded, he or she was answered.

The role of vigorous expression is even more central in the humanities and social sciences, where we are examining thought systems and actions that range from the violently cruel to the heroically generous.   What, following your Principles of August 22, would we make of the writings of the great François Rabelais, who used every comic metaphor available, especially the bodily ones, to plead the cause of those who had been silenced by the Inquisition or harmed by unjust war?

You speak of your responsibility “ to ensure that. . . differing points of view be discussed in and outside the classroom in a scholarly, civil and productive manner.”  In the classroom: one of the exemplars of master teaching was the late George Mosse of the University of Wisconsin, refugee from Nazi Germany and historian of the rise of Nazism.  His lectures were celebrated for his sharp affirmations and his simultaneous invitation to the students to respond in kind—which they did – and for what one observer has called the “cross-fire” between him and a Marxist colleague.   Not surprisingly, he had good friends among both Israelis and Palestinians.

Outside the classroom?  But surely one knows that “differing points of view” are being discussed by members of your large faculty all the time, using every kind of speech, some of it uncivil and disrespectful.   How would one enforce your criteria at the University?  By “speech-police” in every classroom, college restaurant, sports arena, and living room?

Steven Salaita

Steven Salaita

Since this cannot be your intention, I come to the case of Stephen Salaita, whose scholarship, publications, and teaching were reviewed and warmly approved by colleagues, specialists, and university executive committees.  You say in your statement of Principles that the “the decision regarding Prof. Salaita was not influenced in any way by his positions on the conflict in the Middle East nor his criticism of Israel.”  If this be truly the case, then what could lead you to overturn the well-established evaluation and appointment procedures of your university and (according to the commentary by legal specialists) even hazard a possible lawsuit?

Professor Salaita’s tweets in regard to the Israeli bombing of Gaza in the last months seem to have been the trigger: as reported in information obtained by Inside Ed, they prompted some seventy emails to you, including from students who, as Jews, said they feared he would be hostile to them if they happened to take his course.  (What their majors were was not specified in the report.)

Indeed, some of Professor Salaita’s tweets were vehement and intentionally provocative: he used strong language both to criticize the deaths from Israeli bombing and to attack anti-Semitism.  The lack of “civility” in some of his tweets is linked to the genre itself: a tweet is often an answer to a tweet, and a tweet always anticipates a response.  It is a form of concise communication based on give and take, on the anticipation that the respondent may respond sharply or critically to what you have said, and that the exchange will continue.   Thus, in his public political life, Professor Salaita participates in a mode that always leaves space for an answer, thus, extending the respect to the individual respondent for which you call in your Principles.

The classroom is, of course, the critical space for assessing a professor’s educational performance, and from all reports, Professor Salaita has been a very successful teacher and much appreciated by his students.  Why not accept the careful and extended scholarly inquiry of your University of Illinois colleagues over the hasty and seemingly politicized judgment and fears of the emailers?    Further, Professor Salaita would be joining the Department of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, which on its web site commits itself to “free academic inquiry” and “the best ideals of academic freedom.”  Why not leave it to the professors in this fine department to insure that a new colleague fulfills the highest goals of teaching?   Indeed, the practices of careful listening and full speaking are very much part of the American indigenous tradition.  Professor Salaita would thus be in a setting where he could expect to do his best teaching and make the significant contribution to scholarly inquiry hoped for by the University of Illinois professors who have been seeking his presence.

I urge you, Chancellor Wise, to rethink your position and to recommend that the Board of Trustees give its approval to the appointment of Professor Salaita.   This would be an honorable course, and one that would restore the academic values which should and can prevail at a great university.

Natalie Zemon Davis,

Henry Charles Lea Professor of History emeritus, Princeton University
Adjunct Professor of History, University of Toronto

About Natalie Zemon Davis

Natalie Zemon Davis is one of the most distinguished historians at work today. Past president of the American Historical Association, she is the author of 10 books, including The Return of Martin Guerre (translated into 22 languages). She is the recipient of the Holberg International Memorial Prize (2010), National Humanities Medal (2012), and has been named Companion of the Order of Canada (2012).

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34 Responses

  1. just
    August 27, 2014, 5:13 pm

    Good letter. Thank you.

    In “shocking news” from Israel via Max B:

    ronnie barkan [email protected]_barkan

    “Few hours after publication of article making case 4 academic boycott, Prof Hetsroni is dismissed from Ariel Uni.#BDS http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.612657 …”

    https://twitter.com/ronnie_barkan/status/504706481178963968

    link to original article :

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.612657

  2. JeffB
    August 27, 2014, 5:25 pm

    Wow Natalie Zemon Davis. Quite a get for Salaita. As for the rest of the post she isn’t addressing the charges. Wise / Trusties aren’t arguing he was provocative. They was arguing Salaita was promoting malice, “disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice is not an acceptable form of civil argument”.

    An act of malice is an act that is an act whose intent is to cause harm to others. This can be either conscious violation of the law that injures another or an act that in itself is committed intentionally without just cause or excuse. It implies at the very least a reckless disregard of the law in general and of the legal rights of others. Most of the Tweets don’t rise to the level of malice obviously. I’m thinking they mean the shanking comment. They could mean actual malice as in libel i.e that Salaita was libeling the IDF for example.

    The trusties at least are claiming he promoting the commission of a tort or a crime. An equivalent would be if Salaita had Tweeted something like “the owner of the bakery at 1306 Chestnut usually forgets to lock the side door. Money is in the safe. The combination is 23-19-51”.

    I don’t know what specifically they mean. But the answer to her slew of questions about “why” is the Board of Trusties believes that Salaita intends to try and induce others to commit torts or crimes.

    Anyway as an aside, I didn’t know this but the chancellor herself got attacked on Twitter earlier: http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/after-being-denied-a-snow-day-university-of-illinois-student

    • Annie Robbins
      August 27, 2014, 6:06 pm

      jeff, some of us addressed your (nutty) allegations here on this same topic, you never conceded or responded in anyway. http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/appointment-fundraising-chancellor.html#comment-705724

      • JeffB
        August 27, 2014, 6:35 pm

        @Annie

        OK I answered you there. Malice isn’t my allegation that’s the board of trusties.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 27, 2014, 9:01 pm

        you answered but you didn’t address the argument other than to make claims you can’t support with 1 iota of evidence other than your ‘opinion’.

      • JeffB
        August 27, 2014, 10:30 pm

        @Annie

        The evidence was a process of elimination.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 27, 2014, 10:38 pm

        “Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence.”

        so your evidence is, no evidence?

      • Mooser
        August 27, 2014, 11:51 pm

        The evidence was a process of elimination.”

        Jeff, your evidence is, without a doubt, a process of elimination. Why, it’s defecatory!

    • marc b.
      August 28, 2014, 12:25 pm

      Jeff, I find your analysis intimidating and threatening, not to mention silly, erroneous and disingenuous. please confine your commentary here to true/false responses, the standard you’ve proposed be imposed on civil discourse, otherwise I will have to ask that you banned from this site.

  3. JeffB
    August 28, 2014, 9:07 am

    @Annie

    The evidence for his statements being crude is that if adjusted to say blacks instead of Jews they would be clearly offensive. The evidence that his statements were about Jews is that there is no other subgroup to whom his statements could possibly apply. The evidence that they were not about believers in a particular political philosophy is they are not the sorts of statements one makes about a political philosophy. Take those statements and replace them with “Austrian school theorists” or “Utilitarian rational egoists” and they simply don’t make sense at all. They aren’t the sort of statements one makes about people who support a political philosophy. They don’t fit the form of such statements. Replace them with an ethnic group like Chinese and they fit the form, though obviously the details don’t fit. Replace them with Jews and they work fine. Ergo… The fact that your side has not been able to construct a consistent definition of Zionist that fits his various anti-Zionists Tweets shows pretty clearly the problem.

    I should mention that Salaita’s books contain an explicit definition of Zionist. Example Israel’s Dead Soul p4. “Zionism is the belief that Jews have the right to a nation-state in historic Palestine that is majority Jewish”.

    Which is the belief of a good chunk of the people on the planet that just object to the occupation but don’t want to see Israel dissolved. So we could ask if this is what is meant. Do his Tweets make sense when applied to say a typical French liberal who is mostly indifferent to Israel but likes the UN and thus supports the 2SS? The answer becomes obvious that it is no.

    Regardless the point has now changed. Prior to this we were debating about civility in universities. That is now irrelevant since civility is not the reason he didn’t get the job. The board has shifted the debate from merely being uncivil to promoting malice. So most of what we were arguing about is not relevant. The question is not anymore which statements cross the line into being anti-Semitic. The question is which statements encouraged people to commit a crime or a tort.

    • adele
      August 28, 2014, 1:13 pm

      JeffB,
      you seem to be quite the stickler for what is civil, non-malicious discourse (never mind treating Palestinians civilly and non-maliciously).

      Could you provide for us criteria and examples of what is acceptable criticism of Israel and Zionism. Since Zionist is code for Jews, what word should we use in our discourse when discussing an ideological movement that was exclusively reserved for a select religion to settle on land where there were previous inhabitants?

      By the way, did you see this JeffB?
      http://www.newstatesman.com/sites/default/files/images/mensch.png

      • JeffB
        August 28, 2014, 3:30 pm

        @adele

        Could you provide for us criteria and examples of what is acceptable criticism of Israel and Zionism.

        Sure. Here are some examples of what moderate criticism would look like based on the articles here:

        1) I think the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has a negative impact on civil rights by his strict limitations on conversions. I’d like to see the Knesset trim his powers or engage in greater oversight.

        2) I think the use of heavy artillery in Operation Cast Lead was excessive and disproportionate given the ineffectiveness of Hamas rockets. Israel should have used more nuanced means that would inflect fewer deaths and less property damage.

        3) I think Israeli’s policy on trade with Gaza should be liberalized.

        . Since Zionist is code for Jews, what word should we use in our discourse when discussing an ideological movement that was exclusively reserved for a select religion to settle on land where there were previous inhabitants?

        I don’t have a problem with using Zionism to mean that, though I might quibble a bit with that definition Something like “pre-1948 Zionism” seems even more appropriate since after that they are the existing inhabitants. I do have a problem using Zionist to mean those demons in human form who crucified Jesus and try and subvert the good people of the earth from living in the righteous peace of Christ that would exist if they weren’t present.

        Anti-Zionism: Israelis treat their ethnic minority badly, and structurally they aren’t going to be able to change this.
        Anti-Semitism: Zionists subvert the entire world system of peace and undermine international human rights.

        Anti-Zionism: Having extra nuclear states is dangerous.
        Anti-Semitism: Israel is going to start World War III and kill everyone if they aren’t stopped.

        What I do have a problem with then is attributing a degree of passion to this ideology that one typically doesn’t towards all sorts of other foreign ideologies regarding land. For example Terra Nullius is the Japanese ideology that they should own the Senkaku Islands. Very similar to your description for Zionism. Japan and China going at it is potentially dangerous for World Peace. Notice the degree of passion attached to disputes about Terra Nullius?

        As for your link. I think that proves the point. She’s obviously doesn’t know who Herzl so OK you get a cheap laugh at Miss Mensch’s ignorance. But I’d assume that at this point she’s only heard the word “Zionist” used in such a negative connotation that she’s taken it to be an intrinsically insulting word for Jews. There was a similar situation in the first forty years of the 20th century where the word “Jew” was so negative that Jews started calling themselves “Hebrews”. I’ve even experienced the situation where non anti-Semitic Christians can’t get themselves to say “Jew”. This is because their accumulated mental associations with the word “Jew” are so negative that they feel embarrassed using it. They keep dodging around it with phrases like “person who practices the Jewish religion” and when I’ve used it about myself they visibly tense up. Miss Mensch who probably doesn’t have that experiencing is sensing the underlying hated and reacting to the bigotry.

      • Walker
        August 28, 2014, 5:31 pm

        I do have a problem using Zionist to mean those demons in human form who crucified Jesus and try and subvert the good people of the earth from living in the righteous peace of Christ that would exist if they weren’t present.

        I have a problem with that too. My problem is that it’s only supporters of Israel such as yourself who are trying to resuscitate this phony trope at MW.

      • Mooser
        August 28, 2014, 7:03 pm

        I do have a problem using Zionist to mean those demons in human form who crucified Jesus and try and subvert the good people of the earth from living in the righteous peace of Christ that would exist if they weren’t present.”

        Those gosh darn Romans screw up everything! And Jews and Italians can sometimes look alike, too. Wow, nobody better mistake me for a Roman, or ka-boom, they’re gonna get it!

    • Annie Robbins
      August 28, 2014, 3:07 pm

      Regardless the point has now changed. Prior to this we were debating about civility in universities. That is now irrelevant since civility is not the reason he didn’t get the job. The board has shifted the debate from merely being uncivil to promoting malice. So most of what we were arguing about is not relevant. The question is not anymore which statements cross the line into being anti-Semitic. The question is which statements encouraged people to commit a crime or a tort. –

      i wish you could hear yourself the way others hear you jeff. you sound like such a tool. the ‘point’ is not what wise or the lynch mob who went after Salaita say it is. it’s not about them moving thr goal posts left and right or around the corner from accusations of anti-Semitic or malice or whatever they come up with. the point is everyone already knows she was hounded by the horde who wanted him gone and tried to hide that little factoid and what everyone knows already, after the emails got out. it’s just excuses at this point. excuses and rationalizations.

      They aren’t the sort of statements one makes about people who support a political philosophy. They don’t fit the form of such statements. Replace them with an ethnic group like Chinese and they fit the form, though obviously the details don’t fit. Replace them with Jews and they work fine.

      only in your mind jeff. i just proved you wrong on the other thread in the “zionist uplift” reference you mentioned. and you just basically glossed over that. you’re just wrong. Replace them with Jews and they do not work fine. not unless you’re an anti semite. so basically all you are doing is claiming he is one, and therefore, they work??? that a ridiculous way to argue. you can’t make yourself right by chasing your own tail.

      • JeffB
        August 28, 2014, 3:38 pm

        @Annie

        You aren’t answering why they wanted him out. Clearly they were unhappy with something. As others have mentioned there are plenty of other non-Zionist professors and plenty of non-Zionists are Urbana. The people who “hounded Wise” were reacting to something. If it isn’t anti-Zionism, then what is it in your theory?

        i just proved you wrong on the other thread in the “zionist uplift” reference you mentioned

        No you didn’t. I’m a Zionist. I don’t give a shit about whether Historic Palestine is 55% Jewish or 45% Jewish. I’m not alone in either of those opinions. Salaita knows people who share those opinions because he has written about them. Ergo your defense means that he is lying about Zionism.

        . so basically all you are doing is claiming he is one,

        Actually I’m not claiming that. You’ll see on several threads I’ve said I don’t think he is anti-Semite. I think he lost his temper and said anti-Semitic stuff. The same way you can hear racist rants from people who just had a violent encounter with blacks.

        that a ridiculous way to argue. you can’t make yourself right by chasing your own tail.

        Then prove me wrong. I’ve given you a simple test. Create a definition of Zionist that fits all his tweets well. I’ve even given you his definition from his book and it doesn’t work.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 28, 2014, 4:35 pm

        i just proved you wrong on the other thread in the “zionist uplift” reference you mentioned

        No you didn’t. I’m a Zionist. I don’t give a shit about whether Historic Palestine is 55% Jewish or 45% Jewish….Ergo your defense means that he is lying about Zionism.

        jeff, whether you “give a shit” if Historic Palestine is 55% Jewish or 45% Jewish. has nothing to do with my answer to you which you are evading like the plague. you claimed, wrongly, that Salaita’s joke about zionists whose handwringing over demographics just had to apply to all jews. remember? this is your ‘process by elimination’ that you’ve determined he was talking about all jews. this is your standard. just because you have a big blind spot and keep insisting every time he says zionist he means jews. i made it very clear to you

        lots of christian zionists would be very uplifted if every little jewish boy and girl ran off and joined the regime. christ would be able to come then. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/appointment-fundraising-chancellor.html#comment-705724

        and your response? “And who are these Zionists?”!!!! and then you claim “I’m saying he uses Zionist as a proxy for Jew”

        yeah, we get that. you ask “What does Salaita mean by “zionists”.” if you don’t get it it doesn’t mean it’s about all jews.

        ” Clearly they were unhappy with something.”

        who’s they? because what’s clear is the college had no problem with him until carey and his lynchmob decided they wanted him out. and in case you have not heard, ala david horowitz and a whole slew of uber zios don’t like anti zionists on campus. they form lynch mobs and go after them. that’s what we’re watching here.

        and i don’t have to create a definition of Zionist that fits all his tweets, because he did it himself as per your recitation. ““Zionism is the belief that Jews have the right to a nation-state in historic Palestine that is majority Jewish”

        it’s your job to find evidence to the contrary and you have not done that using any of his tweets, and are spamming the comment sections about Salaita with reams of endless crap.

        i say to you “if the tea party or republican was worried about the demographics of hispanics in california it would be perfectly politically pc to say maybe all those racist white guys just don’t screw enough.” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/appointment-fundraising-chancellor.html#comment-705985

        and your comeback?: “I think you are missing the thread. I’m saying that comment is clearly not about a political ideology but rather about a people. -” See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/appointment-fundraising-chancellor.html#comment-705985

        it’s like talking to a brick wall jeff. you claiming it’s about “a people” does not an argument make when faced with a reality anyone could make that joke about anyone handwringing about demographics, regardless of religion or ethnicity purely on a political landscape. keep repeating yourself without considering the implications or the other persons argument, as if the words don’t exist. you seem to think stating “clearly not about a political ideology” in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, is an argument. it’s not.

      • Mooser
        August 28, 2014, 5:12 pm

        My, this is very interesting. It’s like watching a man paint himself into a corner by refilling his brush from the Sani-Kan. That’s not a sight you see every day, even in the Goldenah Medina!

      • Annie Robbins
        August 28, 2014, 5:29 pm

        mooser! lol. i think we have a very professional troll on our hands!

        and i love this: You aren’t answering why they wanted him out. Clearly they were unhappy with something

        and clearly congress votes 100-0 for israel because they all just love spending their holidays floating naked in the sea of galilee!(cantor will be soo missed, he was such a wonderful camp counselor) it has nothing to do with those fat checks that would go to their opponent in an election cycle if they didn’t tow the line, just like threats of cutting donations to the university would have nothing to do with wise’s decision! it’s the malice don’t you see???

      • Mooser
        August 28, 2014, 7:06 pm

        Annie, JeffyB said it himself: “It’s a process of elimination!”
        If he hangs around, we’re gonna need a lot of toilet paper.

      • JeffB
        August 28, 2014, 7:32 pm

        @Annie

        Sorry I’m not buying that Salaita is asserting that believing Jews have the right to a nation-state in historic Palestine that is majority Jewish causes one to become an ineffective lover or that abandoning such a belief would cause one’s sex life to improve. It is simply beyond the scope or reasonable interpretation. There is no connection between sex and Zionism. I’m hard pressed to think of any other political fight where people talk about the other party being bad lovers.

        Phil’s question to me is why I thought it was about Jews. I gave you a pretty clear reason why I don’t think this sort of thing works. You aren’t buying it because of some vague association between demographic concerns and sex. Ultimately my answer is the same I usually give in terms of evidence. The passion / the nastiness and the use of anti-Jewish stereotypes. Like I said before if someone accused Zionist of being shiftless and too lazy to do anything but eat fried chicken and watermelon, then it would be still inappropriate but it wouldn’t be anti-Semitic. If he was accusing Zionists of being uneducated dressing in loud obnoxious colors and broke all the time that wouldn’t be anti-Semitic. But if the insults regarding Zionism “just happen” to be anti-Jewish stereotypes then damn right I’m going to assume that was the intent. Which is the same thing you assume when Republicans go after “the poor” using anti-Black stereotypes.

        But even if you were right that what he meant that people who held those beliefs were bad at sex its hard to see how that isn’t a rather offensive statement and thus still deserving of some discipline. How is that different than “you shouldn’t sleep with asians they selfish and have small penises” or “black guys treat white women like crap in relationship” or “Jewish women don’t put out after you marry them” or any other such sexual drivel? Those kinds of comments would still not be acceptable from a professor.

        Anyway in terms of the rest regarding a lynch mob and rationalizations…. You do realize you are going far further than I am. I’m taking Salaita’s words and examining them. You saying you should ignore the Board of Trusties words entirely since you know what they are really thinking.

        This case started with claims that Salaita was fired, which he wasn’t. Now it turns out that the people who dismissed him say it wasn’t merely about being offensive but rather promoting malice. Sorry but given that the board are the people in the best place to state why the board didn’t approve the contract I’m going to take them at their word.

      • Mooser
        August 28, 2014, 7:44 pm

        a very professional troll”

        Gosh, if JeffyB is a pro, I’d hate to see what a sloppy amatuer looks like. So, JeffyB hasn’t convinced a single person, has made a very unpleasant spectacle of himself, and has worked himself into a confrontation over his basic honesty with one of the editors. Some pro.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 29, 2014, 12:09 pm

        anti-Jewish stereotype? what anti-Jewish stereotype? i have never heard such a thing wrt jewish lovers. so now it’s some alleged trope? this is too much! i think your imagination is much too active.

      • Philemon
        August 28, 2014, 8:31 pm

        So, JeffB, you’re a true-blue Zionist, and you don’t “give a shit” about a Jewish majority in your little Jewish state so long as it is Jewish, right? Yeah, bubila, we’ve got your number.

        Poor old JeffB thinks the British Raj was just the bees’ knees.

      • Mooser
        August 29, 2014, 1:15 pm

        Philemon, don’t put words in JeffyB’s mouth! And if you go to his archive, you won’t have to, since he is all over the map. Funny what happens to a person once they believe contradicting them or disagreeing with them is anti-Semitism. They can go real wrong, you know?

      • Mooser
        August 29, 2014, 1:20 pm

        ‘But even if you were right that what he meant that people who held those beliefs were bad at sex its hard to see how that isn’t a rather offensive statement and thus still deserving of some discipline.”

        JeffyB, we are not going to have a discussion on circumcision, no matter how much you want to.
        But I really doubt that mutilating the male sex organ makes one a better lover. I suppose we could take a poll among the distaff, if you want. (No pun intended, I don’t think men or women should be polled)

      • Mooser
        August 29, 2014, 1:23 pm

        “i have never heard such a thing wrt jewish lovers.”

        I have. In fact, I asked a girl once, after a night of passionate love-making; “Was it good for you, baby, Was it good for you, too?”
        I’ll never forget her answer: “Mooser, I don’t think this was good for anybody!”

  4. Prof Ethan
    September 6, 2014, 5:13 pm

    Here’s proof of what Salaita is, from “Israel’s Dead Soul”, from today’s TABLET:

    In a chapter profiling the ADLas a hate group, Salaita writes that “it is worth noting that numerous cases of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2007 and 2008 were found to actually have been committed by Jews.”

    Any academic would agree that something is” worth noting” if it represents a statistically significant occurrence. In the footnote purporting to support his claim Salaita gives no actual numbers for how many cases of anti-Semitic vandalism were actually the handiwork of nefarious Jews. Instead he offers four examples. Even if they were all true, according to Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, there have been 632 cases of violent anti-Semitic attacks during the time period Salaita examines.

    But are the examples true? One of Salaita’s four examples is the case of a young woman who had carved a swastika on her own thigh; Salaita’s source for the story, a BBC article, makes NO MENTION of the young woman’s ethnicity or religion. Salaita simply INVENTED HER BEING JEWISH. (Not Israeli–JEWISH).

    More troubling is the case of Ivan Ivanov. Ivanov, Salaita writes, was “a Bulgarian Jew in Brooklyn was arrested in January 2008, for numerous instances of spray painting anti-Semitic graffiti on houses, vehicles, and synagogues. The New York Times reported that Ivanov was trained by the Mossad.”

    A search of the Times’ website reveals no mention of the case, but a JTA story from the period contains a much more sober account: “The New York Times reported that Ivanov told police that he was Italian by birth, raised in Bulgaria and trained by the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency.” The difference between a definitive claim sourced to a major newspaper–which is what Salaita claimed–“Ivanov was trained by the Mossad, says the New York Times”—and the actual story, which is likely delusional account of a troubled man—Ivanov tells the Times he was trained by Mossad—is profound In short, Salaita was lying: Lying that Ivanov was Jewish, lying that the Times confirmed Ivanov’s story and was its source.

    Don’t you wonder how come the Indian Studies people thought this was great scholarship?
    Is Salaita unlikely to assign his most recent book to his naive students to read?
    Is THIS how he’s going to train graduate students in historical research?

    The furor over this clown is all bs.

    • Prof Ethan
      September 6, 2014, 5:14 pm

      “Israel’s Dead Soul” is the name of Salaita’s latest book (2011).

      This isn’t about a TWEET. This is material from Salaita’s “scholarship.”

      • Prof Ethan
        September 6, 2014, 5:16 pm

        And Natalie Davis should have looked more closely before vouching for it.

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