Jewish letter to U. of Illinois leadership: Just as we work to oppose Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in our name, we will ensure the silencing of Professor Salaita does not take place in our name either

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September 3rd, 2014

Dear Chancellor Wise & Members of The Board of Trustees,

We, Jewish students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are writing to object in the strongest possible terms to the firing of Professor Steven Salaita. As Jewish members of this campus community, we insist that you do not speak for us in your unjust actions. In no way do Professor Salaita’s words, tweets, or presence on campus make us feel unsafe, disrespected, or threatened, as your public letter indicated.

(Image: Twitter)
(Image: Twitter)

Your decision to fire Professor Salaita is in fact what threatens us as Jews. By pointing to anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism in an attempt to obscure politically and financially-motivated University actions, you minimize the Jewish voices of those who have resisted real and violent anti-Semitism. By conflating pointed and justified critique of the Israeli state with anti-Semitism, your administration is effectively disregarding a large and growing number of Jewish perspectives that oppose Israeli military occupation, settler expansion, and the assault on Palestine. We did not survive ethnic cleansing and carry on the legacy of our people to have our existence used to justify the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, or their unethical treatment when they speak out against the murder, violence, and displacement of their own people.

Furthermore, we insist that you not minimize the context within which Professor Salaita’s firing has taken place. It is within Palestinian right and that of us all to express opposition to the brutality to which we are and have been bearing witness in Gaza and all of Palestine, and to do so with sharp interrogation and anger. To brand this opposition as uncivil or unsafe enough to warrant the dismissal of a faculty member is not only a violation of academic freedom, it is a clear devaluation of Palestinian existence and personhood, with implications for others whose lives similarly have been and continue to be systematically attacked through state-sanctioned violence.

It is unfortunate that Professor Salaita’s critique, anger, dissent, and very existence on this campus have made some, donors or otherwise, within the UIUC community uncomfortable. However, there is nothing comfortable (or civil, for that matter) about Israeli war or occupation. While you pontificated over whether or not some comments made on social media were anti-Semitic, the U.S. sponsored Israeli military systematically murdered thousands of Palestinians. Now our campus has been denied an invaluable scholarly voice to help lead this community in a conversation about why as well as how to stop this from ever happening again.

The firing of Professor Salaita is the Israeli attack on Palestine coming to our campus. Just as we work tirelessly to oppose Israeli ethnic cleansing and displacement of Palestinians taking place in our name, we will ensure that the silencing of Professor Salaita and others like him does not take place in our name either. For all of these reasons, we insist that you reverse your decision and reinstate Professor Salaita immediately. The undersigned Jewish students, faculty, staff and alumni will not allow for anything less.

In solidarity with Professor Salaita,

1. Samantha Brotman (Faculty)
2. Rico Kleinstein Chenyek (Student)
3. Jade Bettine (Student)
4. Zachary Poppel (Student)
5. Stephanie Brown (Student)
6. Jessica Landau (Student)
7. Ashley Price (Alumna)
8. Jonah Weisskopf (Alum)
9. Richard Grusin (Alumnus)
10. Michael Jinks (Alum)
11. Michael Levin, Ph.D. (Alumnus)
12. Mia Warshofsky (Student)
13. David Hamilton (Student)
14. Lennard J Davis (Faculty)
15. Anna Kornbluh (Faculty)
16. Ane Johnson (Faculty)
17. Rebecca Schumann (Student)
18. Robert Naiman (Alumnus ’86, ’89, ’05)
19. Gabriel Solis (Faculty)
20. Molly Doane (Faculty)
21. Deborah Tomaras (Alumna)
22. Fabian Prieto (Student)
23. Stuart Levy (Staff)
24. Laura Nussbaum-Barberena (Student)
25. David Green (Academic Professional)
26. Sarah Sahn (Student)
27. Brian Dolber (Alum)
28. Michael Silvers (Faculty)29. Jordan Litwin (Alum)
29. Jordan Litwin (Alum)
30. Stephen J Kaufman (Professor Emeritus)
31. Barbara Goodman (Alumna)
32. Marina Levina (Alum)
33. Belden Fields (Alumnus ’60 & Professor Emeritus)
34. Bruce Levine (Faculty)
35. Jay Rosenstein (Faculty and Alum)
36. Lauren Goodlad (Faculty)
37. Kathy Lombardo (Community)
38. Kareem Aboor (Donor)
39. Walter Feinberg (Emeritus Faculty)
40. Lillie Gordon (Faculty)
41. Lisa Chason (Student, TA)
42. Jennifer Lieberman (Alumna)
43. Mónica G. García (Alum)
44. Brian Bell (Community)
45. Alfred Lerner (Alumnus ’78)
46. Linda Remaker (Alum)
47. Heather Grossman (Visiting Faculty)
48. Ivan Ruiz (Alum)
49. Lally Gartel (Alum)
50. Jonathan Weissman (Alum)
51. Tamara Chaplin (Faculty)
52. Al Kagan (Professor Emeritus)
53. Jonathan Feinberg (Alum)
54. Alan Labb (Alum)
55. Nadine Dolby (Alum)
56. Eileen Thalenberg (Alum)
57. Ann Schubert (Parent)
58. Deborah Chassler (Alum)
59. Nina Barnett (Alum)
60. Amanda N. Harris, Ph.D. (Alum)
61. Abe Singer (Alum)
62. Lola Chenyek (Student Sibling)
63. Hamza Kishta (Alum)
64. Patricia Noll (Community)
65. Catherine Prendergast (Faculty)
66. Carol Martin (Faculty)
67. Alan Blitz (Alum)
68. Gildas Hamel (Student Family & UCSC Faculty)
69. Amanda Lewis (Faculty)
70. Deborah Cohen (Alum)
71. Martin Miller (Student)
72. Shara Jean (Community)
73. Professor Roger Bromley (Alum)
74. Sahar Mustafah (Community)
75. Sarah West (Student, TA)
76. Melinda Miller (Alum)
77. Lauren Kaminsky, PhD (Alum)
78. Fabio Akcelrud Durao (Faculty)
79. Richard S. Esbenshade, Ph.D. (Former Faculty)
80. Hedy Epstein (Community)
81. Susan Kleinstein (Parent)
82. Armando Chenyek (Parent)
83. Ellen Gradman (Alum)
84. John Drier (Community)
85. Simon Hyde (Community)
86. Garrett Field (Community)
87. Fatiha Makloufi (Community)
88. Joanne Rappaport, PhD (Alum)
89. Jennifer Brier (Faculty)
90. Stephen Sherman (Student)
91. Peter Simon (Alumni)
92. Lisa Frohmann (Faculty)
93. Robert Markley (Faculty)
94. Jessica Greenberg (Faculty)
95. Linda Turner (Alum, 1963)
96. Micah Heumann (Alum, Faculty)
97. Nancy S. Bishop (UIC alum)
98. Mark “Shades” Hartstein (Community)
99. Robert Jacobs (Alum)
100. Rodney Clough (Alum)
101. Stefan Krieger (Alum)
102. Alex Hoffman (Alum)
103. Noa Shaindlinger (PhD candidate, University of Toronto)
104. Lailye Weidman (Graduate student/TA)
105. Joel Wool (Jewish Student, Tufts)
106. Megan W. (Student)
107. Clara Wool (Jewish friend of UIUC faculty)
108. Susan Kahy (U. Michigan Alum)
109. Richard Marcuse (Supporter, Former Faculty, U. of Victoria)
110. Gabriel Gould (Faculty, Juniata College)
111. Josh Levy (Student)
112. Robert Ferrer (Alum)
113. Jodi Melamed (Faculty, Marquette University)
114. Ira Glunts (Librarian, Morrisville State College)
115. Peter Drubetskoy (Unaffiliated with UIUC)
116. Simon Caplansi
117. Peter Belmont (Unaffiliated with UIUC)
118. Deborah Agre (Community)
119. Henry Norr
120. Kimberly Katz (Faculty, Townson University)
121. Jonathan Rochkind (Librarian, Johns Hopkins University)
122. Elsa Auerbach (Professor Emerita, UMass Boston)
123. Larry Saltzman
124. Charles Rosen
125. Shelley Ettinger
126. Steve Kowit (Professor Emeritus, Southwestern College)
127. Michael Friedman (Alum, Columbia University)
128. Dennis Kortheuer
129. Sylvia Schwarz (Professional)
130. Keren Batiyov (Jew of Conscience)
131. Terri Weissman (Faculty)
132. Miriam Vieni
133. Calder Miranker (Student)
134. Steven P. Esses (Jewish Citizen)
135. Neil Fox (Alum – BA, AM, JD)
136. Mark Weisbrot (Alum)
137. Jerome Joffe (Retired Faculty, St. John’s University)
138. Barbara Chasin (Professor Emerita, Montclair State University)
139. Freda Guttman
140. Judy Haiven (Associate Professor, St. Mary’s University)
141. Yom Shamash
142. Marty Roth (Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota)
143. Abraham Weizfeld PhD (l’Université du Québec à Montréal)
144. Prof. Daniel Boyarin (UC Faculty)
145. Melvin Zimmerman (Senior Scholar, York University)
146. Anne Bluethenthal (Associate Professor, California Institute of Integral Studies)
147. John P. Weber (Parent of Alum)

Jewish students, faculty, staff and alumni of the University of Illinois can sign this statement here

The list of signatures has been updated since originally published. 

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Bully for them.

What is needed now is similar letters from Jewish members of other universities.

This is great. I would love to be a fly on the wall in Wise’s office/home and see how she is responding to all this.

Powerful letter! The pen is indeed mightier than the sword! I think Wise’s stay is numbered. She won’t last out the year.

A rarity in the US academy – some rational ‘jewish’ voices – hope more come out of the wood works…

agreed, more Jewish faculty from other institutions will definitely help her and her ilk to be on her/their way