Hiring & Unhiring of Palestinian-American Prof

Hiring & Unhiring of Palestinian-American Prof

Dr. Steven G. Salaita

After giving up a tenured position at Virginia Tech, selling his house and relocating, Dr. Steven Salaita was left high & dry by the University of Illinois.  There’s controversy, however, on whether the alleged breach of academic freedom in this case takes precedence over issues raised about this individual’s professional competency and ethics.   This NY Times online piece covers the issue broadly, “Steven Salaita and the Quagmire of Academic Freedom“: 

The University of Illinois’s dehiring of Steven Salaita, a professor of indigenous studies, for allegedly anti-Semitic tweets demarcates new ground in the debate on academic freedom in the digital age.
Steven G. Salaita says the University of Illinois destroyed his career. The Palestinian-American professor was invited to teach in the university’s American Indian studies program earlier this year, but the board of trustees voted to block his appointment to the tenure-track position following “a campaign by pro-Israel students, faculty members and donors who contended that his Twitter comments on the bombardment of Gaza this summer were anti-Semitic,” according to The New York Times’s Robert Mackey.  . . .

The Times writer also includes a link and quote from Tablet, where Liel Leibovitz contends that academic freedom aside, it was a bad hire:

. . .  Writing for Tablet, [“Steven Salaita’s Academic Work Is Just as Hateful as His Tweets“] Liel Leibovitz supports Mr. Salaita’s dismissal — but more so on grounds of insufficient credentials than any inflammatory, anti-Zionist remarks. “The first thing one learns about Salaita is that very little of what he has written seems to have anything to do with the field of study in which he claims expertise and in which he was offered a job,” he writes.

“Look at the shelf of works authored by Salaita,” he insists, “And you’ll see ‘Arab American Literary Fictions,’ ‘Cultures and Politics; Anti-Arab Racism in the USA: Where it Comes from and What it Means for Politics Today’; ‘Modern Arab American Fiction: A Reader’s Guide’; a review of a book about Hamas, in which Salaita refers to the terrorist group as ‘an often contradictory and always compelling social movement’; and other titles that have absolutely nothing to do with the Sioux or the Seminoles.”

“Salaita’s most notable work about Native Americans,” Mr. Leibovitz writes, “‘The Holy Land in Transit,’ compares them to the Palestinians,” and adds, “One could argue that such a dearth of publications in a scholar’s stated area of scholarship is telling.”

There’s also this detailed piece by an academic, posted at History News Network (click on the title): “Why I Wouldn’t Want Steven Salaita as a Colleague.”

Postscript: The Jewish Currents website has an article that discusses Dr. Salaita’s case in a more sympathetic light.  Read the second section of this article (by clicking on the following title): 

Pro-Palestinian: An Exception to Free Speech?

By | 2014-10-07T11:15:00-04:00 October 7th, 2014|Blog|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Anonymous October 7, 2014 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Wow, more reactionary posts by Partners. Now you are highlighting Liel Liebovitz’s position on Steven Salaita’s academic qualifications as a scholar of Native American Studies?

    I am trying to remember Leibowitz’s qualifications to comment on that issue? Surely Partners knows because you chose to highlight his critique.

    I don’t know how people with progressive tendencies could not but be alienated by these kind of posts.

    After Partners excoriated Mairav Zonsein for her piece in the NYT, you then highlighted that Partners insists on calling Palestinian citizens of Israel of Arabs no matter what they identify themselves, and now you are decrying someone’s Native American Studies qualifications? Is Partners campaigning to allow the Washington Redskins to keep their name?


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