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Steven Salaita: What Mondoweiss Means To Me

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Presented below is the latest message in a series, “What Mondoweiss Means To Me.” We are honored that leaders in the movement for justice in Israel/Palestine respect the site enough to offer these statements in order to help us raise $60,000 by December 31. Please read Steven Salaita’s comments, and if you agree that quality news and analysis are essential, join him in giving.

Each one of you has your own reasons for visiting Mondoweiss, a unique news operation that serves an amazing community of activists and thinkers. Please donate today, and tell us what Mondoweiss means to you.

If you would like to know how donations will be used, click here to understand how dollars and cents are transformed into truth-telling.

Dear Mondoweiss readers—

This year, I was fired for speaking my mind about Palestine—and Mondoweiss’s thorough coverage made a huge difference in informing the public about my case and what it shows about money and freedom of speech in the U.S. Let me tell you how my experience has made me appreciate Mondoweiss more than ever.

Far more people know my name today than did a year ago. That’s because last summer, 140 characters at a time, my grief and outrage threatened two giant, powerful institutions.

Steven Salaita (Photo: AP/Seth Perlman)

Steven Salaita (Photo: AP/Seth Perlman)

First, my tweets against the Israeli offensive in Gaza offended the machine that promotes Israel’s militarism in the U.S. Then, the big money fueling that machine sought to shut me up by putting pressure on the so-called “ivory tower” of academia. When major donors complained about my tweets and accused me of anti-Semitism, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign abruptly cancelled my tenured faculty position. The success of this pressure puts the lie to all claims of intellectual independence.

Mondoweiss has been an essential force in educating thousands of people about this travesty.

While I never intended to sacrifice my career to a principle, I am very glad that this sacrifice has not been in vain. Students and faculty across the country who until now avoided taking a stand on Palestine have been forced by my expulsion to understand the limits on academic freedom—and have stood up to oppose my silencing. Without Mondoweiss’s consistent and accurate reporting, far, far fewer people would have been awakened by my case.

While I have suffered career and economic turmoil, I have also been strengthened in my resolve to speak out. Because above all else, these actions show us something deeply heartening: the power of words.

I didn’t gather hundreds of thousands of people to block the entrance to the Capitol. I didn’t spend millions on electoral campaigns. But the modest tool I had—words pointing to injustice—was so powerful that it mobilized movers and shakers.

Through Mondoweiss, you and I can put this lesson to use. Day after day, year after year, Mondoweiss documents the facts and expresses our movement’s ideas. And because the site has hard-earned credibility and millions of readers, Mondoweiss’s words are even more powerful than those of a private individual like myself.

Please join me in supporting Mondoweiss, a vital institution that amplifies voices for justice. As advocates of Palestinian human rights, we need Mondoweiss for arguments, facts and insights, and to make the world see, listen and understand.

Yours in struggle,

Steven Salaita

P.S. I don’t know today what my livelihood will be a year from now. But I know that any amount I donate to Mondoweiss will multiply my impact on the goal I cherish: justice and human rights for all in Palestine. Take action now by giving at whatever level you can.

Fuel the Momentum

Steven Salaita

Steven Salaita's most recent book is Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine.

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11 Responses

  1. eljay on December 12, 2014, 10:12 am

    Well and eloquently put, Mr. Salaita.

    • bryan on December 13, 2014, 3:22 am

      I’ll second that. Only quibble is that the millions of readers referred to has a slight ring of exaggeration about it. The site must have stats on number of visits per month, and number of separate IP addresses accessing the site. It would be very interesting if these were to be published. It would also be fascinating to review recent historical trends – e.g. the extent to which events like the summer onslaught on Gaza drove traffic to the site, and is there a demonstrable upsurge in the public interest in America-Israel-Palestine. This would of course also represent sensible marketing in the current promotion. What can admin provide us with please.

  2. Jenin Express on December 12, 2014, 12:25 pm

    There’s no way we can accept that Salaita’s career is over. That’s simply inconceivable. Ensuring that Steven Salaita finds a position in some US university within the next months must be a central part of our fight from now on. Achieving that goal will not only correct the injustice that has been committed against him but will encourage others to follow in his footsteps by showing that speaking out does not have to be extremely costly, does not have to mean sacrificing your career.

    • pabelmont on December 12, 2014, 1:35 pm

      Any university which now offers Prof. Salaita a job will know that it is on a social-behavioral cusp — at a time of change (hence the “cusp”) being an early institution to dare the economic and social powers of The Lobby by declaring that telling the truth about Israel is not antisemitic and not anti-American. This will not be easy, for the enforcement power of The Lobby is enormous — witness its power over our brave Congress and president. We must all watch with interest — and attempt to intervene if possible.

  3. inL_A on December 12, 2014, 12:40 pm

    Steven, thank you for sticking your neck out and furthering the conversation. A conversation that’s desperately needed.

    … and thank you too, Adam ; )

    • bilal a on December 13, 2014, 11:06 pm

      but he didn’t stick a red neck out:

      Steven Salaita ‏@stevesalaita
      Rednecks need a new slogan. Instead of “kick their ass and take their gas,” how about “#Gaza is a disaster, but Netanyahu is my master”?

      I believe redneck is a term for working class whites who toil in the sun, ie creepy a__ed crackers, none of them tony enough to make tenure at a government diploma mill.

  4. catporn on December 13, 2014, 8:53 am

    Steven Salaita is an intelligent man, he’ll be back in work again sooner rather than later I hope.
    His experience at the hands of the Israeli lobby and it’s tentacles into American academia have been invaluable to the Palestinian cause. With the help of MW and other journalists we’ve all had confirmed what we knew already, that the Constitution of the United States is no match for AIPAC and friends. Steven had his head pushed above the parapet, but in doing so the pushers have revealed themselves and the depths they will go to, this is a watershed and I don’t think the next school will be so quick fire someone for their political views and their right to express them via free speech. I’ve just watched Norman Finkelstein on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head (watch it if you can), he believes tenure has been denied him because of his views, I’m sure there’s others, and even more who are guarded in what they say publicly for fear of repercussions.
    So the battle lines are drawn and we’re a little bit stronger because Steven Salaita had and has right on his side, hopefully one day he’ll look back at this period as one of the most important and valuable in his life.

    As for supporting Mundo, we all know how important the work they do is.. Even though I look forward to the day when they’re no longer needed.

    • michelle on December 13, 2014, 12:59 pm

      there will always be a need for ‘someone’ to hold injustice up for all to see
      G-d Bless

  5. tinywriting on December 13, 2014, 1:39 pm
  6. Krendall Mist on December 13, 2014, 6:07 pm

    Surely a post-Francis Jennings/Ward Churchill scholar of Native American history cannot be so naive to think that a helping hand from the accommodationist/apologist wing of the colonial usurper leads to any path toward genuine liberty. It may be he is just being polite–and politic. Or–and I hope not–he is Fatah.

  7. piotr on December 13, 2014, 9:56 pm

    Personally, I will not donate a penny until the “edit” option is added to comments. Abandoning that option was a lamentable instance of regress, and this site should be progressive. And I pledge to donate (as I did in the last few years) the moment I can see and use that option.

    That said, I would like to express my warmest wishes to Prof. Salaita, and to Mondoweiss. Soon we will celebrate Saturnalia, Christmas, coming of “Ded Moroz” or just enjoying long starry night of winter solstice.

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