University professors defend anti-Semitic U. of Illinois prof fired over bigoted tweets

A former University of Illinois professor who was fired for a posting a series of anti-Semitic tweets is being defended by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The far left academic group censured U of I for firing Steven Salaita after hiring him in the summer of 2014.

AAUP claims the issue is one of "academic freedom."

Fox News:

"We take this decision by the AAUP seriously," Wise said in the email. "We understand that it will have repercussions on the scholarly activities of many in our community, and we intend to address both the censure and the underlying concerns through our established processes of shared governance."

An AAUP censure could damage a university’s reputation in the academic world. Some faculty members the university has said they believe it might lead job hunters working at other schools choose not to work at the Urbana-Champaign campus.

The school rescinded Salaita’s job offer after some donors complained that some of his tweets were anti-Semitic. He has since sued the school. The censure vote came one day after a judge ordered the university to turn over thousands of pages of documents sought by Salaita.

On Saturday, his attorneys issued a statement calling the censure "a serious blemish on the university's record."

In October 2013, Salaita was offered a professor's job in the university's Native American Studies Department, starting in August 2014. He accepted and quit his job at Virginia Tech University.

But in the summer of 2014, Salaita, whose father is from Jordan, wrote a long series of Twitter messages complaining about Israeli military action in Gaza. Some of those messages included profanity and a few were considered anti-Semitic by university donors who wrote to Wise.

"Zionists: transforming 'anti-Semitism' from something horrible into something honorable since 1948," he wrote in one message.

In August, just before school was set to begin again and after Salaita had received his class assignments, Wise told Salaita he wouldn't get the job after all. She later said the university was concerned about the "abusive nature" of his messages.

His lawsuit claims he had already been hired. The university counters that the board of trustees had not yet approved his hire, a step required for all tenured faculty members.

Salaita claimed at the time of his firing:

The professor strongly rejected those accusations, telling The Jewish Daily Forward that a selection of his most inflammatory comments, quoted in letters of complaint to the university’s chancellor, Phyllis Wise, were “pulled out of a much larger history of tweeting and general political commentary that indicates quite strongly and clearly that I’m deeply opposed to all forms of bigotry and racism including anti-Semitism.”

Oh, really? Not according to the Chicago Tribune:

For example, Salaita celebrated the kidnapping (and subsequent murder) of three Israeli teenagers and proudly called for more such crimes to be committed: "You may be too refined to say it, but I'm not: I wish all the (expletive) West Bank settlers would go missing." He once retweeted a vile suggestion that journalist Jeffrey Goldberg ought to get "the pointy end of a shiv."

No anti-Semitism there, right?

A freedom of information request to the University revealed emails from donors outraged that the school had hired a bigot. While there may be a legitimate question about how much influence donors should have over decisions regarding the hiring and firing of faculty, there is no evidence that this was the sole reason the board took the action it did against Professor Salaita. In fact, the president cited the "abusive" nature of the tweets as a primary reason they were used against him.

Since the board had not signed off on the hiring of Salaita, the university is claiming they were within their rights to withdraw the job offer. A court will decide that issue. In the meantime, Salaita is being feted by the BDS crowd - a cause he enthusiastically endorses, as does the AAUP. 

Funny how the bigots all stick together when challenged.



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