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Salaita firing turns into a ‘catastrophe’ for University of Illinois

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The Steven Salaita case at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign keeps boiling away on the stove. The university surely hoped that it would die away after Chancellor Phyllis Wise fired  the Palestinian-American scholar in early August over angry tweets Salaita had posted about Israel’s massacres in Gaza, just nine months after he had agreed to come to Illinois to teach American Indian studies. But the case isn’t going away, it’s just getting more attention. It is now, as Columbia law professor Katherine Franke says below, an “unfolding catastrophe” for the school.

(Image: Twitter)

(Image: Twitter)

Emails that Wise exchanged on the case have been published, and though heavily redacted, show that she was more concerned about a donor who is on the board of the Jewish Federation and Hillel, two Zionist organizations, than she was about the views of academic officials who report to her. (That’s neoliberal Zionism in a nutshell).

Also, Inside Higher Ed reports that UIUC is seeking to reach a financial settlement with Salaita. The chairman of the board told the Chicago Tribune: “We are not trying to hurt the guy. We just don’t want him at the university.” Generally such settlements include a gag clause; UIUC would probably pay anything right now to make this go away. But Salaita may have the upper hand. He is a cause celebre. The American Historical Association has published a strong letter from its president, past president, and president-elect telling Wise that unless she reverses her decision, her school will gain a reputation for “arbitrary administrative practices.” In a veiled threat, these leaders let Wise know that they may warn members who are thinking of applying to the school.  Rehiring Salaita is “the only satisfactory outcome. We implore you to reverse your decision.”

And Katherine Franke has withdrawn an agreement to speak at the school but stated she’s coming out there anyway to participate in a forum on the case, in a brilliant letter to Wise denouncing Zionist pressure campaigns of the sort that came to bear on Wise, to which she foolishly acceded.

More on the developments:

Phan Nguyen has posted 443 pages of the redacted emails on-line.

Corey Robin has published a post called Reading the Salaita papers in which he demonstrates that as the crisis broke upon Chancellor Wise in late July she did not discuss the matter with her academic team even as she was having frantic meetings with alumni, trustees and development officers. The university as corporation.

What’s most stunning about these documents is that they show how removed and isolated Chancellor Wise is from any of the academic voices in the university, even the academic voices on her own team. As she heads toward her August 2 decision to dehire Salaita, she is only speaking to and consulting with donors, alums, PR people, and development types.

Robin saves the best for last:

Apparently, Carol Tilley on Twitter revealed earlier today the identity of that the alum whom Wise scrambled to rearrange her schedule over. His name is Steve Miller; the UIUC redactor failed to catch it. Tilley then tweeted some other information about Miller. He’s a huge venture capitalist. In 2010, he donated a half-million dollars to endow a professorship in the UIUC business school. He’s given money for years to endow the Steven N. Miller Entrepreneurial Scholarships. He believes in “venture philanthropy.” And he’s on the board of Hillel.

Miller is a graduate of UIUC and is on the board of the Jewish Federation of Chicago, too– a leading organization in the Jewish establishment, along with Hillel. (This is further evidence of my point that the Israel lobby is based on financial contributions and on the Jewish presence in the establishment, Jews in their 40s and older who were indoctrinated in triumphalist Zionism, such as Brian Roberts and David Cohen, leaders of Comcast, the largest media company in the world, or Thomas Kaplan, who is married to an Israeli and funds an organization that is pushing war with Iran. Today all the mainstream Jewish organizations are Zionist, and you have to reckon with this sociological/religious issue, as uncomfortable as it is, in a process of decolonizing Judaism from Zionism.)

The neoliberal/Israel lobby nexus behind the UIUC leadership is also the subject of an excellent investigative piece by Tithi Bhattacharya and Bill V. Mullen at Electronic Intifada. Consider Christopher Kennedy, the board chair who made the comment to the Chicago Tribune that we don’t want Salaita at our school.

Kennedy, the son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, is the chairperson of Joseph Kennedy Enterprises, a financial entity named after his grandfather.

One of the directors of Kennedy Enterprises is Roy J. Zuckerberg.

When not acting as a director of Kennedy’s business empire, Zuckerberg also serves as chairperson of the Board of Governors of Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

In 2009, Zuckerberg received an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University for his contributions as a “generous philanthropist, an enthusiastic Zionist, a concerned and influential member of the US Jewish community.”

Here are excerpts of the blunt and straightforward letter to Wise from the American Historical Association presidents, saying that Wise’s “civility” standard for hiring sounds good because we all want civility, but warning that as a speech requirement at a university it will impose a chilling atmosphere, even for tenured faculty. The presidents warn that they have a concern about their members applying for positions at the school.

August 31, 2014

…We did not speak out earlier because of the ambiguity initially surrounding some of the facts of the case. Professor Salaita’s status with respect to the conventions of your hiring process was at first unclear, but we subsequently learned that your Board of Trustees votes on appointments only in September, so that scores of new University of Illinois faculty begin teaching each fall without Board approval. In addition, your administration initially offered no substantive explanation for its last-minute withdrawal of the offer. We naturally gravitated to the universal assumption that Professor Salaita’s suddenly high profile on social media as an opponent of Israeli military action in Gaza had prompted the decision. But, still, despite our awareness that the case might involve a violation of the right of free speech, we chose to remain silent until the facts had been clarified.

That clarification came with your open letter of August 22, in which you stated that your administration objected not to Professor Salaita’s pro-Palestinian stance on Twitter but rather to the style in which he expressed it. Specifically, you held up “civility” as a necessary attribute of free speech in a university community. Even assuming that Professor Salaita’s tweets, sent from a private account, should be considered part of the campus environment—which is far from evident—revoking his job offer because of them is unacceptable. The insistence that all speech must be “civil” harbors serious danger for the health of our institutions of higher learning and for American democracy generally. Especially when used as an administrative guideline at a great research university like Illinois, it requires us to raise our voice in protest.

The First Amendment protects speech, both civil and uncivil. It does so for good reason. The United States made a wager that democracy can flourish only with a robustly open public sphere where conflicting opinions can vigorously engage one another. Such a public sphere rests on the recognition that speech on matters of public concern is often emotional and that it employs a variety of idioms and styles. Hence American law protects not only polite discourse but also vulgarity, not only sweet rationality but also impassioned denunciation. “Civility” is a laudable ideal, and many of us wish that American public life had more of it today. Indeed the AHA recommends it as part of our own Statement on the Standards of Professional Conduct. But imposing the requirement of “civility” on speech in a university community or any other sector of our public sphere—and punishing infractions—can only backfire. Such a policy produces a chilling effect, inhibiting the full exchange of ideas that both scholarly investigation and democratic institutions need.

If allowed to stand, your administration’s punitive treatment of Steven Salaita will chill the intellectual atmosphere at the University of Illinois. Even tenured professors will fear for their job security, persuaded that their institution lacks respect for the principles of academic freedom. The unhappy consequences for the untenured will be even more pronounced. A regimen of defensive self-censorship will settle like a cloud over faculty lectures and classroom discussions. Faculty will be inclined to seek positions elsewhere. This, surely, is not the future you wish for your historically great institution.

While we have thus far dwelt at length on the justification that you gave ex post facto for the rescinding of Professor Salaita’s offer, we find the procedural irregularities entailed in that decision equally troubling. On this score, too, the facts of the case have emerged more clearly since August 1. The recruitment of Professor Salaita was carried out with scrupulous care and adherence to prescribed procedure. The American Indian Studies Program chose him as their preferred candidate after a national search; every subsequent level of the University administration below the Chancellor endorsed that choice. His scholarship passed muster with your trusted colleagues. Especially important, in light of your remarks of August 22, he has a record of teaching successfully at Virginia Tech, and by all indications, students of every stripe felt welcome in his classroom. Finally, your University provided him with a standard written job offer of the type that routinely guarantees appointments at Illinois. By depriving him of that appointment, you do him a personal injustice. You also disrupt your own system of internal university governance, sowing distrust by ignoring its counsel. And, at the national and international levels, you risk saddling your institution with a reputation for arbitrary administrative practices. Certainly the American Historical Association would have concerns about our members applying for positions at Illinois.

In sum, every aspect of this case points to the reinstatement of the offer to Professor Steven Salaita as the only satisfactory outcome. We implore you to reverse your decision and to put your great university back on a course worthy of its history. Sincerely,

Jan Goldstein, President, American Historical Association

Vicki Ruiz, President-Elect, American Historical Association

Kenneth Pomeranz, Immediate Past President, American Historical Association

Next, here are substantial excerpts of Katherine Franke’s wonderful “catastrophe” letter to Wise, dated yesterday and widely circulated, informing the chancellor that Franke has cancelled her appearance at the school but is coming to Illinois at her own expense this month to participate in a forum that will deal with the debate on the Israel/Palestine issue and the uses of the anti-Semitism charge by Zionists to stop criticism of Israel. Franke says she wants to meet with Wise. This thing isn’t going away! Also note that Franke’s own dean’s office once told her she couldn’t teach a course with Palestine in the title.

Dear Dr. Wise:

Last June several University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty invited me to your campus as part of The Cultures of Law in Global Contexts Initiative and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department’s Queer Studies Reading Group. I agreed to come in late September and give several public lectures and hold intensive sessions with graduate students in the humanities, law, and women’s/gender/queer studies.  For this I was generously offered a modest honorarium plus the costs of travel and accommodation.  I enthusiastically looked forward to working closely with the UIUC’s outstanding interdisciplinary group of faculty and students who are thinking in new and challenging ways about notions of globalization, nationalism, personhood and justice across a range of disciplinary locations…

Regretfully, I write to inform you that on account of the decision to rescind an accepted offer of employment to Professor Steven Salaita, I must now cancel my visit to the UIUC campus in late September.

I have long held the view that the use of boycotts as a tactic to protest an unjust practice by a state, business or academic institution may be appropriate in the right context, such as the current crisis at the UIUC, but that those who pledge to honor a boycott cannot rest their political commitments exclusively on a promise not to do something.  Rather they should also pledge to affirmatively engage the injustice that generated the call for the boycott.  For this reason, rather than merely boycotting your institution, I plan to travel to Urbana-Champaign in mid September at my own expense to participate in a forum (located off campus) with members of the UIUC community in which we will explore the manner in which the termination of Professor Salaita’s employment at UIUC threatened a robust principal of academic freedom.

Of equal, if not greater, importance, at this forum I plan to explore with UIUC faculty the complex questions of belonging, dispossession, and possibilities for legitimate uses of state and non-state violence that may underlie Professor Salaita’s tweets on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

We would be well served to relate them to a rich academic literature that has aimed to give meaning to this particular struggle.  UIUC’s world-class faculty in history, comparative literature, post-colonial studies, Jewish and Arab studies, ethnography, and human rights, are more than equipped to unpack Professor Salaita’s brief comments on social media (most would admit that 140 characters do not allow for nuance, rigor or careful analysis), taking them as a starting point instead of an end of a discussion about complex questions of belonging, dispossession and identity.  Rather than appealing to norms of civility and safety that risk inoculating the UIUC community from challenging and uncomfortable inquiry, an approach that appreciates the norms and values of an academic institution would substitute rigorous interdisciplinary and scholarly analysis of the possible meanings of a provocative comment such as “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.” Should we take from such a statement a cynical, if not offensive, apology for antisemitism or does it suggest a deeper critique of the unintended and tragic consequences of certain extreme forms of political Zionism?  Perhaps both?  This conversation may include thoughtful consideration of the perils and merits of academics’ use of social media.  Instead of being afraid of ideas that may be disturbing or provocative, or prejudging their meaning and declaring them off-limits, scholars aim to unpack them and interrogate their possible implications.  I suspect that this conversation could generate disagreement, but I am certain it would galvanize a rich scholarly inquiry that has been lost by banishing Professor Salaita and his ideas from the UIUC campus.

As for my decision to decline the departmental invitation to speak at the UIUC, allow me to explain why I have chosen to take this course.  The statement you and your Board of Trustees issued on August 22nd, affirming the decision to terminate Professor Salaita’s employment, as well as emails related to this matter that were released to the public last week, make clear that this catastrophe is not really about Professor Salaita and the UIUC’s interest in preserving a civility norm on campus.  Rather, it is better and more accurately understood as the most recent iteration of a well-funded, well-organized and aggressive strategy to censor academic scholarship, research or discussion that is critical of Israel or Israeli state policy. So too it aims to censor scholarship, research or discussion that expresses sympathy for the rights of Palestinians.  With the assistance of consultants and other branding experts, the strategy has been to frame comments critical of Israel as an affront to civility in the university context.  To those of us who have defended academic freedom on this issue in recent years, your statement on the Salaita case echoed, in profoundly disappointing ways, the framing that has been advanced by political operatives who seek to capture the parameters of discussion of Israel/Palestine in an academic context. We at Columbia University are no strangers to this pressure, as we have experienced, and weathered, enormous outside pressure placed on our administration to deny tenure to scholars whose academic work criticizes Israel or political Zionism.  I have had my own lectures taped and then critiqued by members of the David Project, have been instructed by my dean’s office that I cannot give a talk in which the word “Palestine” appears in the title because “there is no such place as ‘Palestine,’” and my former dean refused to accept a grant I received to fund scholarly work designed to create space in academic contexts for critical discussions of Israel/Palestine.

The strategy behind the campaign opposing Professor Salaita’s appointment at the UIUC seeks to reframe any discomfort that might arise around the competing claims to belonging, dispossession and identity in Israel/Palestine as a fundamental problem of intolerance, disrespect or abuse.  This tactic insinuates as a baseline a particular stance or orthodoxy with respect to the highly contested claims to truth or right on this issue that can then be intolerated, disrespected, or abused.  The emails disclosed from your office from university donors, alumni/ae, and others clearly document that the UIUC has been targeted by a particular kind of pro-Israel pressure group hoping to purge the professorate and the campus of parties who they deem to have taken positions (whether in their academic or personal capacities) hostile to an uncritically felicitous conception of Israel.  That the UIUC administration would surrender to that pressure, and then defend the decision to do so, in the name of a civility norm on campus, is both disingenuous and disheartening….

In addition to myself, Professor Salaita, and many other scholars holding appointments at peer academic institutions whose scholarship and other advocacy contain remarks that would run afoul of the UIUC’s new civility policy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would surely be unwelcome at the University of Illinois as an invited lecturer on the basis of his recent uncivil comments on social media, swearing vengeance against the “human animals” who captured and killed three Yeshiva students in the West Bank last June.

My most sincere regrets that on account of the unfolding catastrophe surrounding the termination of Professor Salaita’s employment I will be unable to accept your faculty’s invitation to visit the Champaign-Urbana campus to give a lecture on The Cultures of Law in Global Contexts.  However, I do hope that we can meet in mid September, either in a public or private context, when I come to central Illinois to participate in an off-campus session with a community of scholars who do not fear, nor are intolerant of, provocative, challenging, and even uncomfortable ideas.


Katherine M. Franke

I hope you noticed Franke’s openness to an intellectual discussion of the ways that anti-Semitism has been revised by Zionists. In her footnotes, Franke refers to Corey Robin’s astute observation that the Israel lobby has removed the opprobrium from the anti-Semitism charge, making it a badge of honor for some:  “Israel and many of its defenders claim that Israel is coterminous with Jewishness — indeed, sometimes, that Israel exhausts the definition of Jewishness; Israel has come to be associated, in the eyes of many, with colonization, racism, occupation, population transfer/ethnic cleansing; and movements against colonization, racism, occupation, and the like are considered to be honorable because those things are thought to be, like antiSemitism itself, among the great sins of the 20th century.  Because of these three developments, Israel has perversely made anti-Semitism into something honorable: i.e., a discourse that is not about animus toward Jews but rather about opposition to colonization, population transfer, occupation, and the like.” Robin goes on to say that he disagrees with this understanding of anti-Semitism. (No wonder The New York Times lately published a piece calling Robin one of the two best on-line journalists.)


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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101 Responses

  1. CitizenC on September 3, 2014, 1:01 pm

    half a million dollars for an endowed chair? Income on that is chicken feed, would be even if interest rates were above their present rock-bottom. It would have to be supplemented to pay a distinguished scholar a decent salary. Illinois is selling itself very cheaply.

    It is remarkable how little thought was put into the decision, how oblivious Wise was to the prospect of resistance.. People like Wise are used to doing as they pleased behind closed doors and getting away with it. For them to back down now, come what may, would be a stupendous loss of face and of autocratic autonomy.

    • lysias on September 3, 2014, 2:14 pm

      If UIUC backs down on this, I think Wise’s days in her position will be numberedf.

      • W.Jones on September 3, 2014, 4:10 pm

        Interesting. Yes, it became a kind of scandal.

        The Huffington Post has an article by the director of the law center at the University of Chicago, explaining why it’s unconstitutional for the school to fire Salaita:
        Salaita v. University of Illinois: The Constitutional Issues

        The talk that Franke will go to sounds exciting. It would be very good if MW could run a story on that if the chance arose.

        Here’s what’s interesting. Salaita has a solid case – the University openly informed him that he was hired, which in terms of a contract seals his case. Also, pressure is mounting up with support for Salaita. Meanwhile, the school has announced that it is willing to settle, even before there has been a lawsuit – as far as I know. And on top of that, the President says that the decision for hiring will be up to the Board, and the Board has not voted yet.

        This will basically be a vote as to whether the Board designs to break its contract and violate constitutional free speech rights.

      • Anonymous on September 4, 2014, 6:26 am

        I think so too. The only way Illinois can save face if they allow Salaita back is to chuck her under a bus. Since all those protesting have been saying that the only acceptable outcome is his reinstatement, how would it look if she were to remain as Chancellor? I hope they do get rid of her.

  2. David Doppler on September 3, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Wow. That’s simply amazing. But I disagree that anti-Semitism can be honorable, except in the very narrow sense that sought to redefine it as “new Anti-Semitism” as any Anti-Israeli or Anti-Zionist policy or argument, in which case I’d put it in quotes, referring to that narrow definition only, which deserves to be rejected. But the argument is joined with vigor in academia. Phil’s wish has come true, at least in part.

    • lysias on September 3, 2014, 2:17 pm

      Salaita made that very point about anti-Semitism (or “anti-Semitism”, if you prefer) being rendered honorable by Zionists’ behavior in one of his tweets that was objected to. Franke is here implicitly expressing agreement with that tweet.

      • W.Jones on September 3, 2014, 4:17 pm

        I took his tweet to be sarcasm. You would have to redefine anti-semitism to make it honorable. You would have to say that it means opposing a collective society, and a collective society is defined by the beliefs or politics of, say, a big majority of its members.

        Personally I disagree with this way of talking about collective entities and have debated against it in the comments section a few times, if I remember correctly. However, people often do occasionally talk in these collective terms: eg. The Americans fought The Germans in WWII, The Gypsies are nomadic.

        In any case, it’s rare for Solidarity activists to use this phraseology when it comes to the Jewish people.

    • tree on September 3, 2014, 5:34 pm

      Here’s the timeline of Salaita’s tweets:

      -“If its “antisemitic” to deplore colonization, land theft, and child murder, then what choice does any person of conscience have?”

      Followed immediately by this:

      – “Zionists: transforming “antisemitism” from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

      No doubt part of one thought put in two serial tweets due to the 140 character limit of a tweet.

      This was responded to a few hours later by another tweeter:

      -“Unsure how to respond to this as a jewish anti-zionist ”

      To which Salaita responded:

      “By attacking the discourses of Zionism that cheapen anti-Semitism by likening it to principled stands against state violence.”

      Notice that he puts “antisemitism” in lower case and quotes when he is talking about phony cries of “antisemitism” against criticism of Israel, but uses no quotes and upper case when he is talking about real Anti-Semitism.

      So Salaita is agreeing with you (and me) on this, David.

      • David Doppler on September 3, 2014, 7:16 pm

        Thanks for the enlightenment, tree. A jumble of conflation and nuance.

        What is needed is a plain word to describe someone who smears a person of conscience by trying to conflate their opposition to evil with a specific form of evil sometimes directed against the tribe doing to the evil. How about “conflanuance,” to describe the act, a contraction of conflation and nuance, as in, “Wait a minute, you’re pulling a conflanuance.” And a person doing it is a “Conflanuancer,” as in “Wretched conflanuancer, behold thy comeuppance!” Or “your nuance is getting tangled up in your conflation, you’re becoming conflanuanced, and should go lie down.”

  3. David Doppler on September 3, 2014, 1:12 pm

    And what a lousy battleground to choose, since we all know where academia will come out, even if some will allow [have allowed] themselves to be corrupted by money and clever politics. Key question: what will Salaita do? Will he settle, or hold out for re-reversal?

    • lysias on September 3, 2014, 2:18 pm

      If he holds out, he can only win. Either he gets the job back, or he gets a much better settlement offer.

  4. MRW on September 3, 2014, 2:02 pm

    Salon published an article yesterday called “They are intellectually underpowered and full of themselves, because they’ve been told their whole life how wonderful they are”. Subtitled: “William Deresiewicz on millennials, the meritocracy, student loans and what’s wrong with the Ivy League”

    In the spring of 2008, William Deresiewicz taught his last class at Yale. In the summer of 2008, he published an essay explaining how an Ivy League education had messed up his life, and the lives of his students.

    Elite schools, Deresiewicz argued, give their students an inflated sense of self-worth. They reward perfectionism and punish rebelliousness. They funnel timid students into a handful of jobs, mostly in consulting and investment banking (and now Teach for America). For a real education, he went on to suggest, you might want to head to one of the wonkier liberal arts colleges, or to a state school.

    For those sensitive to the advantages of Deresiewicz’s pedigree (a B.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia, followed by 10 years on Yale’s English faculty), this might sound like a rarefied form of whining. But Deresiewicz’s essay took off. Then an undergraduate at Yale, I remember reading it with a quiet mix of amazement and horror. A former professor could say this stuff? About us?

    Deresiewicz has just published a book called Excellent Sheep, an enlargement of his 2008 article.

    But let me just add one more characteristic that may be the most controversial. I would also say that there’s intellectual shallowness. Which doesn’t mean these kids aren’t smart. They’re smart, and they’re very academically accomplished. But there’s a big disconnect now between being academically accomplished and being intellectual. Being intellectual means really getting into something and studying for its own sake, not “I need to get an A in this class, because it’s one of 20 things I need to do right now.”

    He eviscerates the ‘meritocracy’, and says that it is producing leaders who are also “excellent sheep: They’re timid; they’re risk-averse. They’re self-serving.”

    Judging from Wise’s fear and reaction, it would also seem to be a top-down problem.

    • lysias on September 3, 2014, 2:20 pm

      These timid and risk-averse people are the ones who are now running the country. That is a lot of the reason why our government makes such bad decisions.

      • marc b. on September 3, 2014, 4:12 pm

        neoliberalism is what it is. I sat through the graduation speeches delivered by faculty and students at my son’s high school graduation last year. all eloquent, grammatically sound, engaging speakers, not one of whom had a message that even mildly deviated from the established, dominant ideology.

      • piotr on September 3, 2014, 9:30 pm

        Where opportunists go, there goes the country.

        It stands to reason that if one sets the goal not on the personal advancement but on deep and novel understanding etc. then one personally advances a bit less.

    • tear-stained uzi on September 3, 2014, 9:18 pm

      And where do good little American senators and congressmen go for ‘higher ed?’ Yup.

      Makes for impressively swift and unanimous votes when AIPAC blows its shepherd’s pipe (or for 29 bleating ovations, if that’s what’s needed). But the thing about risk-averse herds: they may suddenly change direction en masse when confronted by a new, greater threat.

  5. hophmi on September 3, 2014, 2:23 pm

    There continues to be no evidence that Wise decided not to hire Salaita because of “Zionist pressure.” Wise herself has explicitly repudiated that position. The vast majority of the correspondence sent to Wise on the Salaita issue was from students, parents, and alumni, and not from donors.

    There is no greater slippery slope threat to academic freedom than the idea, promoted by the BDS community, that scholars, or academic institutions, may be held accountable for the views of their government. Using that basis to promote a boycott of Israeli academic institutions (which is, in effect, a boycott of Israeli scholarship), can be used to boycott academics and academic institutions in any country where the government takes a position a group of people does not like.

    This Salaita thing is about politics, and not academic freedom.

    And by the way, this is barely registering outside of the academic community and the hard left. Salaita may be a cause celebre, but once you leave the reservation, you’re going to have a tough time explaining to the average American why their tax dollars should go toward hiring a foul-mouthed guy who tweets things about how Zionists make antisemitism honorable, and wishes for 500,000 people to “disappear” in the wake of a kidnapping. You don’t need to be a Zionist to understand that while nobody would deny the guy the right to say what he wants, most would say that he’s not entitled to a job.

    • justicewillprevail on September 3, 2014, 3:35 pm

      Are you unable to read? It is comprehensively explained in the article why Wise’s decision was unethical and more concerned with Jewish (aka zionist) donors than anybody else, not least her fellow colleagues and administrators. Of course it’s political, Wise has made it political. If you can’t understand both Franke and Robin’s eloquent explanations why this decision is nothing to do with academia and everything to do with the lobby and its mania for shutting down discourse, then there is not much hope for your arguments. Both of them run rings around your feeble asinine assertions. As usual you seek to turn it into something else, reiterating your obtuse interpretation of BDS. Can’t you come up with anything else, other than this litany of diversions and deliberate falsifications of the arguments, posing as a defender of free speech whilst disallowing it for discussions of Palestine?

    • JeffB on September 3, 2014, 3:47 pm

      Good point. I don’t think he has the bankroll to make it to trial but Salaita’s writings in front of 12 average Americans… He’s going to have to argue that his scholarship was excellent that the Indian studies department didn’t decide the hire wrongly. Which means they can admit those writings and cross-X him on those writings. His books are pretty bad.

      I’d love to be the lawyer doing greatest hits from, “Anti-Arab Racism in the USA: Where it Comes From and What it Means for Politics” to a jury with lots of social conservatives on it.

    • on September 3, 2014, 4:05 pm

      Of course Salaita was fired for his comments criticizing Israel’s massacre of the Gazans.

      Had it been for any other reason, hophmi would not be here championing the firing.

    • Pixel on September 3, 2014, 4:07 pm


      “And by the way, this is barely registering outside of the academic community and the hard left.

      I guess we’re going to have to change that.

      • Anonymous on September 4, 2014, 6:32 am

        He’s delusional. It’s been covered in a number of news outlets now, not least the NYT, and I think we can all safely agree that the NYT doesn’t even come close to resembling the hard left.

    • adele on September 3, 2014, 4:51 pm

      HOPHMI: “There is no greater slippery slope threat to academic freedom than the idea, promoted by the BDS community, that scholars, or academic institutions, may be held accountable for the views of their government. ”

      Is that why Israel bombed the Islamic University in Gaza? To punish the people of Gaza for Hamas? And why Israel targeted and arrested Bir Zeit University faculty and students during the first intifada, to punish them for their political activism? And why during the first intifada the IDF sought to shut down clandestine school rooms that were set up to mitigate the effects of curfew and school closures? Yes, slippery slope indeed.

    • Mooser on September 3, 2014, 5:50 pm

      There continues to be no evidence that Wise decided not to hire Salaita because of “Zionist pressure.

      Hophila, there continues to be over 400 pages of e-mails which tell us that an awful lot of Zionists thought she should, and were unabashed about making the demand in exactly those terms.

      And of course, you want us to believe they all knew it was completely in vain, and that they all acted on their own. Sure, okay Hoffy, okay.

    • Mooser on September 3, 2014, 7:05 pm

      “This Salaita thing is about politics,”

      That’s what we’ve been saying all along, glad you agree.

      • piotr on September 3, 2014, 9:52 pm

        “This Salaita thing is about politics”.

        Perhaps one should not idolize the Founding Fathers, but why the hell did they come up with the idea that there should be “freedom of speech”? I though that specifically political opinions were at the center of it. The point is that the freedom of political speech is presumed to be a good thing, and curtailing that freedom, not so much, even if done legally.

        “There is no greater slippery slope threat to academic freedom than the idea, promoted by the BDS community, that scholars, or academic institutions, may be held accountable for the views of their government. – See more at:

        I do not know what is the color of this herring. The view that “academic institutions may be held accountable” was accepted by the President of Brandeis University. That said, “accountability” in the sense of extending/accepting invitations does not “infringe” anything. Firing, overruling hiring decisions, dissolving departments etc. on behest state institutions, and the economic elite is the ordinary “slippery slope” here.

    • Walker on September 3, 2014, 10:14 pm

      There continues to be no evidence that Wise decided not to hire Salaita because of “Zionist pressure.” Wise herself has explicitly repudiated that position.

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    • Qualtrough on September 3, 2014, 10:51 pm

      @Hopfmi: “There continues to be no evidence that Wise decided not to hire Salaita because of “Zionist pressure. Wise herself has explicitly repudiated that position. ”

      As if she would ever admit it.

    • Anonymous on September 4, 2014, 6:21 am

      I don’t know why anyone bothers engaging with Hophmi. He’s been pushing the same line elsewhere on the web. So much so that Corey Robin actually banned Hophmi from his blog.

      • Mooser on September 4, 2014, 7:07 pm

        “I don’t know why anyone bothers engaging with Hophmi.”

        Yes, as I’m sure you know all this commenting is strictly a labor of love for Hophmi, an avocation, a emoluentless mission he has assigned himself, to champion Israel. And people like Israel less and less.
        He’ll never see the connection, the poor schlumpf

  6. John Douglas on September 3, 2014, 2:23 pm

    Phyllis Wise was on a path to a major university presidency: a scientist, a woman, a minority, plenty of big-school experience and, given what we now know, a willingness to please the bosses. She still has all of that but it’s been cancelled out by a terminal case of academic Ebola. No major university will touch her now.

    • ritzl on September 3, 2014, 6:28 pm

      Good. Let her be a lesson for all…that the Zionist machine is merciless, even to those that serve and service it dutifully.

  7. marc b. on September 3, 2014, 3:35 pm

    don’t you ever tire of pontificating on subjects you’re not intellectually equipped to analyze?

    1. Wise’s public rationale and the email correspondence and other evidence are logically irreconcilable. Your reliance on her bald statement, her ‘repudiation’ of the fact that her decision-making process consisted of at least one parallel private track of donors’ concerns is testament to your dishonesty and simple-mindedness.
    2. So you’ve done a statistical analysis of the correspondence sent to Wise concerning ‘the Salaita issue’? No? In any event, the raw numbers are irrelevant. The question is which communications, if any, influenced Wise’s decision. I’d say it’s reasonable to assume, absent proof to the contrary, that the ‘concerns’ of the donor of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the ‘venture philanthropist’ (there’s an oxymoron wrapped up there somewhere) received more considered attention than the letters of an undergraduate student, for example.
    3. I see. So the revocation of an offer to hire a tenured professor at a public American university because of his ‘tone’ while exercising his 1st amendment rights is less of a threat to academic freedom than a boycott of academics from a foreign nation?
    4. Politics and freedom are mutually exclusive concerns? What a dolt. But if you mean ‘politics’ as the black art of back room deals and the perversion of established protocol and policy through financial blackmail, yes, Salaita’s firing was ‘political’.
    5. Here we go again. The condescending, hectoring tone, explaining to us mere mortals how pathetic and ineffectual our efforts are. So what are the odds that Salaita a. gets his job back; b. receives significant financial compensation; c. none of the above? At which point, assuming it’s a. or b., millions will know about the defeat of scum bags of the likes of Wise and Miller.

  8. JeffB on September 3, 2014, 3:41 pm

    @Phil —

    I don’t know if you’ve ever been involved in lawsuits but no, Steve Salaita isn’t close to having the upper hand. I don’t think he has a winnable case. In the end we have undisputed fact he has issued a letter of intent that indicated a dean would pass a recommendation to hire to the board, that recommendation was passed to the board and the board agreed with the chancellor not with the dean and didn’t hire. Contracts fall through all the time. Academics can wave their hands about academic freedom, and tradition and whether the American Indian studies group did or didn’t do their due diligence… but lawyers are going to see this as a contract that was in late stage negotiations and fell through. He annoyed the owner and didn’t the job, happens all the time. Allowing employees to bind institutions who specifically are not given the power to bind those institutions would destroy contract law. Please let Salaita win, I have no problem bribing a janitor at every one of the fortune 100 to sign a contract with me binding their institution to millions of dollars in billable work each.

    But even if he had a good case. He doesn’t have the money to make it all the way to trial. There isn’t going to be some great Perry Mason moment where Chancellor Wise breaks down on the witness stand agrees that she should have hired Salaita if only… The lawyers for the University if they are worried at all are just going to burn up all his money in pre trial depositions. Salaita’s lawyer is going to fly out do a 1/2 dozen depositions in 2 1/2 days 3-4x at $200-500 / hr. How long do you think he can take that?

    The guy is tenured. You don’t think they can find 20 x-students from all the classes he’s taught he felt he engaged in incitement in the classroom? The there is the board members. The members of the Indian studies program. Let’s say 60-100 depositions $500-3k each. Then they have pre-trial motions game. Salaita’s lawyers have to prepare for these witnesses. there are Salaita’s own witnesses. How long do you think he can keep this up?

    And even if he did win, how much do you think he gets in damages? Ward Churchill was able to prove (who had a full on tenure contract) was able to prove irregularities in his dismissal the jury agreed with him, and awarded him $1. The judge didn’t require reinstatement.

    But let’s assume he gets rehired and Wise just ices him for 3 years. And then doesn’t renew. A court isn’t going to award him lifetime employment.

    He has a bad case, and he is playing at a table where the stakes are too high for his bankroll. Maybe all this noise gets him a somewhat better settlement. But he is miles away from having the upper hand.

    • marc b. on September 4, 2014, 10:16 am

      I don’t think he has a winnable case.

      according to several legal experts I have read, you’re all wet. Professor Leiter, of the U of Chicago Law School, believes that Salaita does have a case. I don’t you know from Adam, but i’ll assume that Leiter is more knowledgeable on such matters than you.

      as for the funding of his legal team, Salaita is gaining more and more support, including from a group of University of Illinois academics who are pressing for the unionization of UI faculty. you make it sound as if he’s stuck on an island, frayed pant legs blowing in the wind, shaking his children’s piggy banks to gauge his available resources for a fight. he has many interested persons who will assist him financially because his case is effectively their case, not to mention the lawyers who, for publicity’s sake or otherwise, will agree to assist him. this is not Salaita v. Wise. this is academics v. administrators.

    • wes on September 4, 2014, 6:49 pm

      jeff b

      “noise settlement”

      the settlement will come when he is next hired.all this salaita salada stuff is a step by step campaign…………………there is no random because the stakes are too high

    • justicewillprevail on September 4, 2014, 7:11 pm

      jeffb loves playing amateur armchair lawyer. I suppose playing super courtroom sleuth diverts from the real issues which concern everybody else.

      • justicewillprevail on September 4, 2014, 7:13 pm

        And in jeff’s fantasy battles, the zionists always win. funny that.

      • Mooser on September 5, 2014, 11:39 am

        “And in jeff’s fantasy battles, the zionists always win. funny that.”

        I don’t think JeffyB understands the way the “archive” thing works.

    • Mooser on September 5, 2014, 1:52 pm

      “I don’t know if you’ve ever been involved in lawsuits”

      Clarence Darrow speaks from the grave! Or is it Judge Holmes? Anyway, with JeffyB, legal expertise is here by the bucketful!

  9. Pixel on September 3, 2014, 3:50 pm


    Given that this is taking place in Illinois and mucho state tax dollars go to the University, I just called the Office of Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn to ask what the governor was doing to resolve the issue and ensure that Salaita we rehired.

    The young man (in Constituent Affairs) who answered the phone said that he (and the Governor on whose behalf he was speaking), had never heard of it.

    Really. Really?

    Hmmmmm… (The young man said he was googling info. as we spoke.)

    It seems like the Illinois Governor would benefit from a little “higher education” on the issue, right now. Sooooooo, I invite anyone and everyone, whether living in Illinois or not, who cares about this to contact the Governor’s Office. Enlighten him with a short “lesson” and encourage him to create a “lesson plan” for action.

    Pass the word:

    Office of the Illinois Governor
    (Patrick Quinn)
    207 State House
    Springfield, IL 62706
    Phone: 217-782-0244
    TTY: 888-261-3336

    Email (online webform)

    • Mooser on September 3, 2014, 5:46 pm

      “I guess we’re going to have to change that.”

      Gosh, I almost feel like I owe Hophmi thanks, for inspiring you. Yeah, almost.

    • piotr on September 3, 2014, 9:53 pm

      Pragmatically, the further our politicians stay away from this issue, the better.

    • Anonymous on September 4, 2014, 6:24 pm

      Hey there,

      Thanks for this, though I’m not sure how effective or worthwhile such a campaign would be. David Green, a professor at UIUC posted a link to the following on Corey Robin’s blog. It’s a piece he wrote a while back that was published here on Mondoweiss. Worth a read:

      • Anonymous on September 4, 2014, 6:26 pm

        An edit function would be really great please, guys.

  10. Neil Schipper on September 3, 2014, 3:52 pm

    One thing that is sorely absent in the campaign to overturn the UIUC Salaita decision is the employment of the very kind of speech that many in the American academy believe — passionately — to be acceptable, even laudable, from scholars.

    So, in addition to the all of the commentary about speech rights, encroachments by administrations and boards onto academic turf, employment policies, contract law, activist strategy and so on, to really establish the protection, and moreover, the advancement, of the emerging public intellectual paradigm, the campaign must include issuance of continuous short bursts of public statements like the following:

    I hate waking up only to realize that the UIUC Board of Trustees still exists.

    While Salaita’s future hangs in the balance, the UIUC BoT are engaged in protracted struggle over who can buy the biggest yacht.

    The UIUC spokesperson receives money to justify, conceal, and glamorize the firing of professors. Goebbels much?

    Supporting UIUC puts you in company of Republicans with sexual fantasies about killing Muslims. Enjoy your new buddies, employment contract literalists.

    I don’t give two fucks what the “UIUC” policy says. The BoT ALREADY destroyed academic freedom and is destroying Salaita right now.

    Chancellor Wise fires tenured hires and blames it on her Board. Psychiatry hasn’t yet accounted for this sort of derangement.

    The trustees dislike it when people call UIUC devoid of integrity. It must really anger them when somebody describes water as translucent.

    Instead of whining–which, to be fair, is Chancellor Wise’s oxygen–trustees should be glad I called them “trolls,” the kindest word I can muster.

    Do you have to visit your physician for prolonged erections when you see pictures of fired professors from UIUC?

    What do you say to the children of the professors you have fired?

    The logic of “contract law denialism” deployed by UIUC, if applied in principle, would make pretty much everybody not a sociopath a “contract law denialist.”

    The above pseudo-tweets are based on a selection (approx. one half) of Steven Salaita’s tweets of the single day July 16.

    • chocopie on September 4, 2014, 7:51 am

      Except that your “tweets” are about an academic firing and attack on free speech and Salaita’s actual tweets were about an ongoing massacre against a captive refugee population in which thousands of helpless people were being shredded alive.

      • Mooser on September 4, 2014, 4:53 pm

        Neil, looking good, man!! Really impressive, what you do in this comment. Not to mention the great depths of character it exposes in the man who wrote it! You’ll go far, my friend, far!
        And soon, I hope.

    • MRW on September 4, 2014, 12:57 pm

      @Neil Schipper,

      These “pseudo-tweets” are witty.

  11. Kay24 on September 3, 2014, 4:15 pm

    What Phyllis Wise did is typical of what is happening in the media, and even in the US congress.

    Some rich zionists making generous endowments or campaign contributions, in exchange for the loyalty and servitude of Americans in the media, in congress, and yes, even in colleges, so that Israel can control the message within our nation, threaten those who dare speak out agains them, or inform the American people of the truth. This is happening everywhere, and has been the norm for years. Sad state of affairs in this nation of free speech, land of the free and home of the brave. We have been occupied by alien lobbies who hold influential folks like Wise under their control. This is silencing the messenger and controlling the message.

    Have we heard anything from the media regarding the blatant announcement of more illegal settlements by Israel? I hear Obama criticizing Russia for it’s occupation of Ukraine, but not a peep about the world’s notorious occupier, that has gone one for years. The world occupation and Israel is rarely mentioned by the leaders in our country.

    • Abierno on September 3, 2014, 10:00 pm

      Generous donations? The university of Illinois at Urbana has a total annual budget of 1.9 billions dollars – that someone who donates half a million can secure a named chair as well as call the shots on who is or is not allowed to teach there is unbelievable. The university has @44,000 graduate and undergraduate students, thousands of alumni and an impressive faculty. Neither Mr Miller, Dr. Wise or the board of trustees has given any credence to these stakeholders as well as the carefully written protocols for vetting and hiring. “We just don’t want him at [our] university” opines the chairman of the board. Dr. Wise catastrophe is only beginning – if letters of commitment of tenure mean nothing neither does tenure. As we speak talented and prestigious faculty are scenting the air for other offers. No one wants to put their energies into getting a doctorate and building a solid teaching and research reputation – only to find they really work for Steve Miller and his ilk. Within the next two to three years the luminaries of this university will have moved on. Capable graduate and professional students are crossing this university off their list and are being advised to do so by professors inside and outside the university. This is truly a catastrophe which will keep on going for the next several years, plunging this fine university into a sea of politically correct mediocrity.

      • MRW on September 4, 2014, 1:03 pm


        Smart comment, and I especially agree with your opening two sentences.

        Generous donations? The university of Illinois at Urbana has a total annual budget of 1.9 billions dollars – that someone who donates half a million can secure a named chair as well as call the shots on who is or is not allowed to teach there is unbelievable

        What Wise, Miller, and their ‘ilk’ don’t understand is that it works both ways, as you aptly describe here:

        As we speak talented and prestigious faculty are scenting the air for other offers. No one wants to put their energies into getting a doctorate and building a solid teaching and research reputation – only to find they really work for Steve Miller and his ilk.

    • Philip Munger on September 3, 2014, 11:16 pm

      What Phyllis Wise did is typical of what is happening in the media, and even in the US congress.

      Some rich zionists making generous endowments or campaign contributions, in exchange for the loyalty and servitude of Americans in the media, in congress, and yes, even in colleges, so that Israel can control the message within our nation, threaten those who dare speak out agains them, or inform the American people of the truth

      It happens in the arts. All the time. The most recent prominent example is the Metropolitan Opera’s censoring of John Adams’s opera The Death of Klinghoffer from its widest audience by far – their simulcasts in movie theaters worldwide of live productions. I wrote to each recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in Musical Composition over the past ten years, asking them to support their co-prize-recipient. Only one, the most recent recipient, John Luther Adams (different composer), responded. He condemned the censorship/cancellation, on Facebook:

      The Metropolitan Opera’s decision to cancel broadcasts of “The Death of Klinghoffer” is not a compromise. It is censorship. There is no place for censorship in a free society. And it should have no place at the Metropolitan Opera.

  12. MHughes976 on September 3, 2014, 5:49 pm

    As to ‘anti-Semitism rendered honourable by events’ – much depends (I know I’m being repetitious here) what ‘a-S’ means. But it’s misleading in almost any event if it means that a new epoch of honourable or valid a-S has dawned. Either it never has been or will be or could be honourable or valid or it has been valid from time to time in exactly the same way as objection to any other human group.
    If ‘a-S’ is to be understood as ‘prejudice against some things Jewish’ then nothing renders it honourable or rational, however badly some Jewish people may behave: prejudice never becomes sensible or acceptable.
    If ‘a-S’ means ‘objection to the actions of some Jewish people’ then it would be – and must always have been – honourable and valid whenever those actions are in fact misdeeds. On the assumption that Jewish people are morally just like non-Jewish people, good and bad in the same measure, spirit of the human spirit (which they are), then ‘a-S’ in this sense must always have been valid from time to time in just the same way as objections to actions by British or Spanish or Protestant or Zoroastrian people.

    • W.Jones on September 3, 2014, 7:17 pm

      My understanding is that anti-semitism means animosity to Jews because of their ethnicity, much like anti-Black racism would be towards Blacks.

      Understood thus, opposing Israeli policies because they are abusive, or for that matter opposing organizations like AIPAC or even Hillel for supporting those policies would not be anti-semitic. In fact, any opposition to Israeli policies or groups (like Greta Berlin’s tweet slandering Israeli nationalists) would not be anti-semitic as long as there is a different motive than ethnic hatred.

      So properly understood, actual anti-semitism could not be honorable.

      • Mooser on September 4, 2014, 4:56 pm

        “My understanding is that anti-semitism means animosity to Jews because of their ethnicity,”

        What, if I may ask, is the “etrhnicity” of a Jew, W.Jones? Is it “Jewish”? And, uh, that is what, exactly, or even generally.

      • W.Jones on September 6, 2014, 4:00 pm

        As far as discrimination rules are concerned, ethnicity refers to an immutable trait. Anti-semitism means hating people simply because they are Jewish rather than because of other factors.

        So for example the Rech in WWII hated them for genetic reasons and rednecks in the South hated blacks simply because of their race.

        Hating someone simply because of their religion is also wrong, even though that’s not really an immutable quality.

        It’s not racism however if there is another reason for the antagonism. So if someone has an antagonism to Israelis who commit abuses (and I believe people should not have antagonism toward anyone, ideally), then it’s not because of their ethnicity or religion but because of the harm done.

      • Mooser on September 6, 2014, 6:33 pm

        “As far as discrimination rules are concerned, ethnicity refers to an immutable trait. Anti-semitism means hating people simply because they are Jewish rather than because of other factors.”

        Okay, you just went in a quick circle. So what is the “immutable trait” Jews possess? Your words, W. Jones. Kindly tell me which “immutable trait” the Jew possesses.

        I would really like to know how, W. Jones, you feel Jews fiffer from the rest of humanity. Yes, some Jews have a religion, but so do a lot of people, have religions. Or are you saying the Jewish religion leaves “immutable traits” which make a person differ from the rest of humanity?

      • annie on September 6, 2014, 6:39 pm

        ethnicity is not inherently immutable.

  13. jrochkind on September 3, 2014, 6:05 pm

    It doens’t matter too much, but on one of the ‘controversial’ Salaita tweets, I think everyone including Franke in her letter above is missing what it seems to me obvious he meant:

    “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

    The things everyone, including Zionists, called anti-Semitism used to be horrible things; but lately, the things Zionists call “anti-semitism” isn’t anti-semitism at all (hence the scare quotes), they call anyone who objects to the Zionist colonial project (an honorable thing to do, objecting to that) “anti-semetism”.

    Now, saying that makes anti-Palestinian organizations and people mad too. It can be disagreed with. etc. etc.

    But it was obvious to me upon reading it that’s what he meant, NOT that Zionism justifies actually anti-semitism.

    But even defenders of Salaita seem to be missing what seems to me to be the obvious meaning, even Franke suggests maybe it’s “a deeper critique of the unintended and tragic consequences of certain extreme forms of political Zionism”, I guess she means the suggestion that tragic consequences of Zionism are anti-semitism. Which can also be argued, but it’s pretty clear to me what Salaita meant, and it wasn’t that!

  14. Keith on September 3, 2014, 7:26 pm

    PHIL- “Today all the mainstream Jewish organizations are Zionist….”

    Which means that effectively they all support Western imperialism. Israel simply could not exist in its present form, nor behave as it does without imperial support.

  15. a blah chick on September 3, 2014, 7:26 pm

    The documentaries “Park Avenue” and “Hot Coffee” really opened my eyes to the power money has in this country. The money that rich folk or companies throw around to get laws or lawmakers to cater to their needs. In the case of Salaita a wealthy donor lets everyone at the university know that the financial spigot might get shut down if things don’t go a certain way and I can’t believe that this does not happen every day in America on other academic campuses.

  16. Keith on September 3, 2014, 7:50 pm

    PHIL- “It is now, as Columbia law professor Katherine Franke says below, an “unfolding catastrophe” for the school.”

    You can try to spin it anyway you want, but the reality is that money power prevailed as it usually does. I would be very surprised if Salaita is reinstated. Neoliberal capitalism is sending a message to would be critics that to criticize imperial policy (particularly concerning Israel) will not be tolerated. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if, instead of criticizing Israel, Salaita angrily denounced imperial warmongering in the Ukraine. Things are getting ugly and they aren’t going to get better anytime soon.

    • Anonymous on September 4, 2014, 7:18 am

      “I would be very surprised if Salaita is reinstated.”

      I can’t really see it go any other way, unless he gets a fat settlement. How is the university going to redeem itself in the eyes of the international academic community when so any have pledged to boycott it unless Salaita is reinstated? To say nothing of the fact that many will be deterred from working there, or will be seeking to leave and work elsewhere, in the wake of this debacle.

      Sure “money power prevailed” but the point is that for once it has been brought to the attention of everyone that zionist money is controlling the very institutions that are supposed to be impervious to such influences. There’s no coming back from that, unless Saliata is allowed to teach and compensated for his losses.

      • Keith on September 4, 2014, 11:09 am

        ACTIVISTGAL- “How is the university going to redeem itself in the eyes of the international academic community….?”

        I seriously doubt that the fat cats calling the shots are overly concerned about the opinion of those in the “international academic community,” hardly a monolithic group in any event. In fact, what better way to show the academic community which way the wind is blowing and the futility of resistance than to hold the line on Salaita? The good opinion of the academic community didn’t seem to help Norman Finkelstein, did it? But yeah, perhaps you are right about a fat settlement with a non-disclosure clause. Then Salaita can join Finkelstein on the lecture circuit, unless, of course, he runs afoul of the BDS crowd. I suspect that these fat cat Zionists are going to cause Salaita grief wherever he goes and whatever he does. I sense a pattern at work here.

    • Anonymous on September 4, 2014, 4:13 pm

      “I seriously doubt that the fat cats calling the shots are overly concerned about the opinion of those in the “international academic community,” hardly a monolithic group in any event.” 

      Well they should be if they are at all concerned about their investment into UIUC. Who would want to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into a university no-one is willing to speak/work at because of the very public way in which someone they hired has been treated?

      I’ll be interested to see which way the wind blows after the BoT meeting on 11th September. Somehow, I don’t think this will play out the same way the Finkelstein affair did. There seems to be much more in the way of support for Salaita than there was for NGF. I also don’t recall masses of academics pledging to boycott the university unless the university offered him tenure. The only reason he got any kind of settlement was because of the activism of his students on his behalf. He said so himself at a talk he gave at LSE a few years ago.

      • Abierno on September 4, 2014, 9:28 pm

        DePaul University is a small private university. The University of Illinois Urbana is a large, well known public – taxpayer – funded university. Academics all across the country are paying attention to Dr. Wise attempt to flush tenure rights down the drain. She has managed to provoke a firestorm involving tenured professors in the U of Illinois system as well as across the country. By her ineptitude, she has managed to conflate criticism of Israel with tenure rights, a most sensitive issue in academia. While the BoT is supporting her now, when this is resolved a resignation based on health or family needs can be expected. She is finished as an administrator – most likely the capable Nigerian-American physicist who is vice chancellor of academic affairs will replace her as pro tem – if he stays. she by passed him completely in this affair. (One email and he said he had heard nothing about it; she never replied)

      • Keith on September 5, 2014, 11:18 am

        ABIERNO- “The University of Illinois Urbana is a large, well known public – taxpayer – funded university.”

        One could just as well argue that the Department of Defense is a large, well known public – taxpayer – funded organization. Tax money is routinely channeled to areas that the taxpayer doesn’t want and that is to the detriment of the 99%. You and Activistgal could be right. Perhaps Salaita will be reinstated and Wise depart in disgrace. If so, then things aren’t nearly as bad as I suspect they are. My thesis is simple. We live in a capitalist/corporate controlled empire degenerating towards neofeudalism. Wise’s decision was vetted by the powers that be and a backdown is unlikely. Time will tell, however, I suggest that you and Activistgal pay attention to the political economy as it actually is, not some idealized myth. As for reputation, Harvard hasn’t unduly suffered from its well-known connection with the CIA, and other unsavory things.

    • Anonymous on September 5, 2014, 11:39 am

      Hi Abierno. For some reason I am not able to reply to you directly hence my response via Keith.

      Thanks so much for providing that distinction between DePaul and UIUC – I’m from the UK so it’s not one of which I was aware.

      I agree with you in that should Saliata be re-hired/re-instated, Wise is finished. To be honest, I think whichever way this goes now she is finished. So far eight academic departments have declared votes of “no confidence” in her, and Corey Robin anticipates a further two before the week is out. That’s going to be really hard to recover from. I don’t know anything about Ilesanmi Adesida, except that he’s the Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs. And that there is only one email from him that was recovered in the FOIA bundle initiated by various news orgs.

      Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m feeling hopeful for Saliata.

      • Mooser on September 5, 2014, 2:01 pm

        BTW, Activist gal, if there is no “reply” button directly under a post or response, look up thread and use the first available “reply” button, and your reply will appear at the end of the responses.

      • Anonymous on September 5, 2014, 2:07 pm

        Cheers, Mooser. :-)

      • Mooser on September 5, 2014, 7:12 pm

        See how that works? And the “edit” function may be restored soon. All the comment platforms have edit.

      • Anonymous on September 5, 2014, 7:35 pm

        I don’t usually spend much time commenting on blogging sites, so the mechanics are unfamiliar; I’m sure I’ll get used to it. If I do bother to comment, it’s usually via something like Disqus, a forum, or an MSM site like the Guardian.

  17. stevelaudig on September 4, 2014, 6:16 am

    donor derangement syndrome comes in many forms here it is Zionist. a common, indeed, prevalent form.

    • Anonymous on September 5, 2014, 11:40 am

      “donor derangement syndrome”

      I LOVE that phrase, so I’m stealing it!

    • Mooser on September 5, 2014, 11:45 am

      “donor derangement syndrome comes in many forms”

      DDS is one of the syndromes associated with our new American governmental system, instituted during the Reagen administration. The new system is called ‘senile dementocracy’.

  18. Jabberwocky on September 4, 2014, 6:40 am

    Perhaps Professor Salaita can write a paper on the obvious letter writing campaign by pro-Zionist groups to label his anti-Zionist comments as anti-Semitic.

    The letter writing campaign to Ms. Wise simply endorses the correctness of some of his tweets!

    • Anonymous on September 5, 2014, 11:42 am

      “The letter writing campaign to Ms. Wise simply endorses the correctness of some of his tweets!”

      Care to explain the logic behind that?

      • Mooser on September 5, 2014, 1:59 pm

        “Care to explain the logic behind that?

        The letters to Ms. Wise expose some of the attitudes which so frustrated Salaita.

      • Anonymous on September 5, 2014, 7:36 pm

        Ah. Thanks.

  19. eGuard on September 4, 2014, 9:12 am

    The post ends with Robin goes on to say that he disagrees with this understanding of anti-Semitism. ‘this’ being “opposition to [Israeli] colonization, population transfer, occupation”.

    To be clear, here this re-definition of anti-Semitism is the Zionists one, not Salaita’s. I doubt if Robin understood this. He even seems to pardon Salaita for this, where there is nothing to pardon. Salaita was clearly objecting to the Zionist trick of using that word wrongly. And Salaita used quotes: ‘anti-Semitism’, in the tweet, something Robin did not note or read.

  20. CitizenC on September 4, 2014, 10:06 am

    Wise told The News-Gazette she has no plans to alter her decision, but said “there have been some errors in the process. People are on campus and working before their appointments are approved by the board. We need to correct that.”

    But she admitted she wished she had sought more consultation before writing that letter.

    Wise said she’s been surprised by the extent of the reaction to her decision.
    I.e., “I did what has gotten me to the chancellorship, listened to powerful, moneyed, established forces. What went wrong this time?”

    What a commissar. Her future in higher ed is over in any case; she can only go sideways after this.

  21. Jackdaw on September 4, 2014, 12:48 pm

    Some media are describing Steven Salaita as a Palestinian or Palestinian-American. For what it’s worth, he was born in West Virginia, and his immigrant father came to America from the well-known Jordanian (Christian) Salaita clan of bedouin origin (not Palestinian), most settled in and around Madaba, East Bank. His mother is said (by him) to have had parents from somewhere (unspecified) in Palestine, although she was born and raised in Nicaragua.

    Steven Salaita, a Palestinian? By choice

    • annie on September 5, 2014, 12:53 am

      she was born and raised in Nicaragua.

      can you link to your source w/link please. besides, even if she was born there, if his mother’s family was in exile, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t palestinian. it says here

      Steven grew up in Bluefield, Virginia, to a mother from Nicaragua (by way of Palestine) and a father from Madaba, Jordan. He now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, with his wife, bichon frise, and orange tabby.

      it’s not like there was a 2000 year gap now was there?

      • Jackdaw on September 5, 2014, 11:21 am

        No. It doesn’t mean that she’s not Palestinian. It means that Steven isn’t.

        And if his mother IS Palestinian, she’s probably a Christian, like Steven’s father.

      • Mooser on September 5, 2014, 11:49 am

        So Salaita is a “Palestinian by choice” And of course, all us Jews have a proven genealogy back to the Bible Days? Every one of us has our Ten Tribes certificate.

    • Anonymous on September 5, 2014, 11:46 am

      “Steven Salaita, a Palestinian?!”

      You can’t undo someone’s ethnicity just because you feel like it.

      I’m mixed race (part South-Asian, part Jew) and the fact that my SA mother was born in Britain doesn’t make me any less Asian.

      Nice try though.

      • Mooser on September 5, 2014, 11:53 am

        “You can’t undo someone’s ethnicity just because you feel like it.”

        Activist Gal, nobody, but nobody understands the fungibility and flexibility of ethnic identity like the Zionists! Heck, they invented not just one, but several different ‘ethnic identities (“Jew” “Diaspora Jew” “Israeli Jew”) all by themselves and manipulated them quite well.

        Nope, you don’t want to mess with Zionists around ethnic identity, they’ve mastered the field.

    • Anonymous on September 5, 2014, 11:48 am

      And what’s faith got to do with it? Is he only a legitimate Palestinian if he is Muslim? There ARE Palestinian Christians too, ya know.

      • Jackdaw on September 6, 2014, 1:55 am

        His parents were not ‘exiled’, like Annie said.

        Arab Christians fled Ottoman rule in the early part of the twentieth century.
        They didn’t experience the Nakba.

        Regardless, Steven’s father is from a Jordanian Bedouin clan.

      • Anonymous on September 6, 2014, 3:52 pm

        There are still Palestinian Christians there now, you know. But sure, you stick with your distorted view of history if it helps you sleep at night.

  22. MRW on September 4, 2014, 1:07 pm

    A new verb for our lexicon: to salait someone, to salate.

  23. scott9854958 on September 4, 2014, 8:33 pm

    It’s pretty clear to me why Salaita had to be canned. He’s not only vitriolic, he’s funny and sarcastic. Those last two things I think sealed his fate. The Hasbara crowd easily laughs off earnest outrage by mocking their opponents as silly naifs. Humor and biting sarcasm OTOH is much harder to combat. It reflects a dangerous mind, because it can reach people. So Salaita had to go.

    • Philemon on September 6, 2014, 9:15 pm

      “Humor and biting sarcasm OTOH is much harder to combat.”

      Yep, they don’t really understand it, but they fear it.

  24. eGuard on September 6, 2014, 3:21 pm

    Katherine Franke writes to Dr. Wise: However, I do hope that we can meet in mid September, either in a public or private context.

    Why on earth does she need a private meeting with Wise? Any deals to cut? Same as last year, when she met with the very Zionists she was boycotting – secretly? A “first meeting”, to produce “a coherent set of principles will emerge, which we can disseminate to others who share our concerns”?

    I get the impression that she is *not* helping Salaita or the larger cause by jumping in the drivers seat this way.

  25. eGuard on September 6, 2014, 3:44 pm

    Katherine Franke about that “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ …” tweet by Salaita: Should we take from such a statement a cynical, if not offensive, apology for antisemitism or does it suggest a deeper critique of the unintended and tragic consequences of certain extreme forms of political Zionism?

    She makes the same mistake as linked Corey Robin did (I commented on at 9:12 am): Salaita does not excuse for anti-Semitism. Salaita states the way Zionism uses the word, the accusation by Zionists is not rejectable. Note that, even within 140 characters, Salaita used quotes.

    But in the first option Franke says Salaita wrote an apology for anti-Semitism (thereby repeating the smear). And in the second option she excuses beforehand ‘extreme forms of political Zionism’ for ‘unintended consequences’ – so these are defined to be out of topic by the professor, because she knows they are ‘unintended’.

    Professor Franke handling the tweet this way is framing it in the Zionist mind, before even discussing it. Please do not ‘help’ the topic this way. Or, as a tweet: “Salaita is not anti-Semitic and did not write anti-Semitism” (that’s 60 characters).

  26. jon s on September 7, 2014, 2:35 am
    • Mooser on September 7, 2014, 12:43 pm

      So Jon, I guess it was the powerful Pro-Palestinian forces which kept the University from doing an adequate review of Prof. Saliata’s work before offering a tenured position?

      Gosh, so lucky we’ve got “Tablet Magazine” to expose the evil Professor!

  27. tinywriting on September 7, 2014, 11:39 am

    I found a new leaked e-mail from the Chancellor’s office at UIUC:


    From the Office of the Chancellor,

    To: Board of Trustees

    Members of the Board,
    Please find below the new menu of course offerings at UIUC. This
    memo will be forwarded to our appropriate ‘good friends’ for bids
    pending your approval.


    Phylli$ Wi$e


    Menu for the University of Illinois

    For the appropriate donations (amounts listed below) the University of
    Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will stop teaching the following courses
    (or start teaching, depending on the amount received).

    College of Medicine

    Will teach Homoeopathy: $1,500,000 (They have a BIG ASS lobby and I know we can get this.)
    Will stop teaching Vaccinations for childhood diseases: $500,000 (These wackos will pay anything. Perhaps I haven’t asked for enough? Please advise.)
    Abortion: evil scourge of Satan: $500,000
    Abortion: vital for population control!: $500,000 (For $950,000 you can have both!)
    Malnourishment: Saving costs on colonized populations! $25,000 (Low but no one really cares.)

    Department of Astronomy
    Course: Age of the Earth

    Department of Philosophy

    Will stop teaching Concepts in Ethical Thought: $1.00
    Will start teaching Concepts in Ethical Thought: $1,000,000

    Department of History

    Will stop teaching about the Chicano Labor movement: $500,000
    Will start/stop (your choice!) teaching Holocaust studies: $1,000,000
    Will offer course: ‘Hitler, scourge of mankind’, $5,000,000 (a slam dunk to get this amount)
    Will offer course: ‘Manifest destiny: America’s future in Iran!’ $5,000,000 (From the right people I think we could actually get twice this much)

    Department of Biology

    Will stop teaching Evolution: $5,500,000 (high, but we think we can get it)
    Will continue teaching Evolution: $5,500,000 (The goddamn liberals can put their money where their mouth is!)

    Department of Business
    Will start teaching course ‘Greed, your friend!’: $25.00 (Low, but we already have offerings like this).
    Hiring and Firing the UIUC Way!: $2,000,000 (I think we have a lot to offer here!)

    • Mooser on September 7, 2014, 2:31 pm

      Very revealing e-mail! Higher education at low-low prices.

  28. eGuard on September 7, 2014, 6:03 pm

    About professor Franke. Just read her letter to Dr. Wise again (60 tweets length), and I still do not get why Mondoweiss is applauding her.

    Franke is only answering her own prejudices. She is the only person on internet who exposes her “honorarium plus the costs of travel and accommodation” concerns – and in the first paragraph (Gazans will be grateful for this attitude). Whenever Israel/Palestine is involved: write “complicated” (we know, that is a red flag for: Zionism ahead).

    Franke never writes that Salaita should be hired. Never. Franke does not write that Salaita is abused. Never. Franke mostly exposes her own fideles (including the non-fee for traveling to Illinois – I’ll never forget that. Thank you Franke! What a gesture!! You have the right concerns on your mind!!! The people of Gaza and I will remember you – for this). 1275 words and not a single one for Salaita or Gaza.

    Worse. Franke slimely turns this into a Zionist-amongst-us issue, offering a “private”(!) talk with Wise to solve matters. Just like she did (secretly, of course), while abusing Haneen Maikey.

    Mondoweiss should report this as being relevant, but not applaud her approach. Professor Franke is a Zionist.

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