A MASSIVE public campaign in support of fired pro-Palestinian and Arab-American scholar Steven Salaita has now generated more than 15,000 signatures calling for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to reinstate him. More than 2,000 faculty from around the world have signed pledges to boycott UIUC until Salaita is given his job back.
But Salaita has not been offered his job back, and his status remains uncertain.
On August 1, Salaita received an e-mail from UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise saying that his job offer to become an associate professor of American Indian Studies was not likely to be approved by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.
Salaita had already signed an offer letter--the equivalent in academia to an employment contract--to take the position as of October 2013. He sold his home in Virginia, where he was associate professor at Virginia Polytechnic University, and was in the process of moving with his family, including his two year-old son, when he received Wise's notice.
Salaita was fired after the Daily Caller and the News-Gazette newspapers in Champaign-Urbana published articles that included criticisms of Salaita's twitter posts opposed to Israel's Operation Protective Edge massacre in Gaza.
Send an e-mail expressing your support for Steven Salaita to UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise. Copy your e-mail to the chair of American Indian Studies Robert Warrior.
After Israel began its bombing campaign on Gaza in July, Salaita, who has written several books on Arab American literature and one critical of Israel state policy, tweeted his outrage at the loss of Palestinian life.
In an article published first at Mondoweiss, Phan Nguyen carefully examined Salaita's tweets, showing that Salaita was not only consistent in his criticism of Israeli state policy, but he had a long record of criticizing anti-Semitism. Nguyen documents his contention with numerous examples, including this tweet, for instance: "I refuse to conceptualize #Israel/#Palestine as Jewish-Arab acrimony. I am in solidarity with many Jews and in disagreement with many Arabs."
Nguyen's article also pointed out that Salaita critics like Cary Nelson had both misused and misinterpreted Salaita's twitter posts to accuse him of anti-Semitism. Nelson is a longstanding backer of Israel and critic of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise has also criticized BDS.
It is no coincidence then that Salaita has been fired for supporting the Palestinians and criticizing Israel.
More on this at: http://socialistworker.org/2014/08/19/support-floods-in-for-steven-salaita