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Salaita speaks out and warns of a ‘Palestinian exception’ to the first amendment and academic freedom

Samantha Brotman on

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Professor Steven Salaita spoke publicly for the first time since the termination of his employment. His focused and powerful address emphasized one clear message: the reaffirmation of his “commitment to teaching and to a position with the American Indian Studies program at UIUC.” Salaita and his lawyers repeatedly insisted that their goal was not to pursue legal recourse against the university, but for the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees to reinstate his position. However, it was clear that he and his legal team are prepared to pursue legal avenues to force his reinstatement if necessary.

Academics both ‘pleased and concerned’ with Salaita settlement with University of Illinois

Mondoweiss Editors on

Yesterday a settlement was announced in Professor Steven Salaita’s lawsuit against the University of Illinois for violating his academic freedom and right to free speech. Over 80 academics have responded by signing onto a letter saying: We are pleased that the University of Illinois trustees, through the payment of a substantial monetary settlement to Professor Salaita, have acknowledged how Professor Salaita’s termination amounted to a serious violation of both his constitutional right to free speech on matters of public concern, and principles of academic freedom. We recognize that UIUC’s unlawful treatment of Professor Salaita has had implications well beyond Professor Salaita individually. We feel strongly that the monetary settlement of Professor Salaita’s legal claim does not address the underlying breaches of academic freedom and widely accepted standards for the conduct of academic governance.

Top legal scholars decry ‘chilling’ effect of dehiring scholar Salaita

Corey Robin on

Corey Robin documents the growing backlash in the academic world to the dehiring of scholar Steven Salaita over his criticism of Israel. The latest is that scholars from law schools at Columbia, Cornell, Berkeley, Georgetown, and other universities have come out with a very strong letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to dehire Steven Salaita.

University of Illinois trustees vote to reject Salaita reinstatement

Samantha Brotman on

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees met today to vote on whether or not to reinstate Professor Steven Salaita to his position with the American Indian Studies department at UIUC. Despite a sizeable turnout of students, faculty and community members in support of Salaita’s reinstatement, the Board of Trustees voted not to reinstate Professor Salaita.

Jewish students, faculty and staff at the University of Illinois continue to stand in solidarity with Steven Salaita

Samantha Brotman on

Following the firing of Steven Salaita from his position at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), a group of Jewish faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members from UIUC issued a letter to Chancellor Phyllis Wise and the Board of Trustees. Now, the Jewish students, faculty and staff of UIUC who stand in solidarity with Steven Salaita seek support in reemphasizing and strengthening their message to the university administration.

Reading Salaita in Illinois (part 2) – Cary Nelson, academic freedom’s agent provocateur

Phan Nguyen on

This is the second of two articles on Cary Nelson’s involvement in the Steven Salaita affair. In this second half of Phan Nguyen’s study, he focuses on Nelson’s conflicts of interest when presenting himself as a professional authority on the Salaita case. Nguyen also traces the anti-BDS origins of the current attack against Steven Salaita.

Steven Salaita case recalls blacklisting of Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson

Terri Ginsberg on

Professor Steven Salaita’s words “while strident and vulgar were an impassioned plea to end the violence currently taking place in the Middle East,” writes an academic freedom committee of the Illinois AAUP. And Salaita is likely a better teacher for the passion he brings to his work. Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism also condemns U of Illinois decision to rescind appointment

Salaita’s stellar teaching record exposes political motivation behind his firing

Tithi Bhattacharya and Bill V. Mullen on

At a recent orientation meeting with senior faculty University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise, who fired Professor Steven Salaita, claimed she did so in part because she was concerned about Dr. Salaita’s classroom teaching. This is the clearest evidence we have thus far that University administrators at UIUC have caved in to pro-Israel propaganda in firing Salaita because his actual record as a classroom teacher is extraordinary.

‘Besides not having a job, everything’s great’: Steven Salaita on his firing and what comes next

Alex Kane on

Mondoweiss’ Alex Kane spoke with scholar Steven Salaita last week at the end of his three-week speaking tour. Salaita was set to join the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign’s American Indian Studies program when a pro-Israel pressure campaign targeted him. Salaita’s contract with the university was terminated, and he has become a cause celebre for academic freedom advocates and Palestine solidarity activists. Now, Salaita and his lawyers have sued the university for not releasing emails that would shed light on how the decision to fire him was made.

American University of Beirut students protest in support of Steven Salaita as school president intervenes to cancel hiring process

Students for Salaita on

Students at the American University of Beirut have been organizing on campus since AUB President Fadlo Khuri canceled the hiring of Professor Steven Salaita based on accusations of ‘procedural irregularities’ during the hiring process. As a #StudentsforSalaita press release explained, “Students are concerned this controversy follows Salaita’s persecution at UIUC, as well as the changing perspectives within the administration on the legitimacy of pro-Palestinian scholars.”

Untangling the Salaita case

Marjorie Heins on

Steven Salaita’s firing at the U of Illinois reminds us that the concept of academic freedom began in the early 20th century in response to politically motivated firings at the behest of conservative boards of trustees. The targeted were active outside their schools in labor organizing and socialism. In Salaita’s case, donors exercised pressure on the university after he vociferously supported Palestinian rights on twitter.

Reading Salaita in Illinois—by Way of Cary Nelson (part 1)

Phan Nguyen on

Ever since the news broke on Aug. 6 that Steven Salaita’s faculty appointment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) had been terminated due to tweets critical of Israel, the most prominent expert voice—indeed, the only expert mainstream voice—to emerge in support of the university’s decision has been UIUC English professor Cary Nelson. In part one of a two-part series, Phan Nguyen deconstructs the accusations and misinterpretations made by Nelson against Salaita’s tweets.

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

Philip Weiss on

Emails from University of Illinois chancellor Phyllis Wise in the Steven Salaita firing case show that she was frantic to meet Steven Miller, a large donor and member of Jewish pro-Israel organizations, even as she was failing to discuss the matter with her academic team. The case has become a “catastrophe” for the school, in the words of Katherine Franke, and it is reportedly seeking to settle financially with Salaita.

Is the firing of Steven Salaita the beginning of a new Blacklist?

Tithi Bhattacharya on

Steven Salaita’s case is a gag order for young academics. Because the Arab-American scholar dared to tweet against the Israeli assault on Gaza, he now has no job, no personal home to live in, and no insurance for his family, including his two year-old son. His landmark case shows that much like suspected Communist sympathy during the Cold War, support for Palestine is the “third rail” of political expression, from which Universities continue to retract professed support for academic freedom and free speech. The decision by University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise demonstrates that universities are not some neutral venue in the battle of ideas, and that the BDS movement was right to target support for Israel inside the academy.

Steven Salaita in NYC: ‘It’s not just Israel and Palestine that get people in trouble – it’s challenging power’

Rob Bryan on

Rob Bryan reports from a New York City event for Steven Salaita’s new book “Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom” where the author expressed his unwavering solidarity with the activists fighting to end Israeli apartheid in the face of formidable barriers including restrictions on speech and the attempted blacklist of anti-Zionists.

Five lessons from the struggle to reinstate Steven Salaita at the University of Illinois

Tithi Bhattacharya and Bill V. Mullen on

Tithi Bhattacharya and Bill V. Mullen share five lessons they learned from the efforts to reinstate Steven Salaita at the University of Illinois. As they watched the protests over Salaita’s firing they saw protesters connecting the dots between Apartheid Israel and the violation of labor rights at home and realized that the protesters at UIUC were showing us the way to a new social movement that could constitute a fighting force against neoliberalism, both at home and abroad.

Israel’s Dead Soul: Steven Salaita’s critical scholarship explains his dismissal from the University of Illinois

David Green on

Steven Salaita’s book “Israel’s Dead Soul” (2011) merits serious attention and ultimately effusive praise. It contains five critical essays that not only offer brilliant insight into the cultural and ideological practices of Zionism in both Israel and the United States, but implicitly explain why his conscientious efforts would be denigrated and rejected by the ostensibly liberal aspects of this culture at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Cornel West joins boycott of Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign over Salaita firing

Mondoweiss Editors on

Dr. Cornel West has cancelled a high-profile lecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in support of a boycott of the university over the firing of Professor Steven Salaita. In a statement West said, “My change of mind in regard to my cancellation of my lecture constitutes a line in the sand I could not cross,. The case of my dear brother Professor Steven Salaita is a moral scandal of great proportion and the suffering of precious Palestinians under a vicious Israeli occupation is a crime against humanity, even in a world in which ugly anti-Jewish hatred escalates.”