An English professor of Arab descent has had a job offer to teach at the University of Illinois withdrawn because of, what many of his supporters claim, were "anti-Zionist" tweets.
Many faculty job offers (which are well-vetted by college officials before they go out) contain language stating that the offer is pending approval by the institution's board of trustees. It's just a formality, since many college bylaws require such approval.
Not so with a job offer made to Steven G. Salaita, who was to have joined the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this month. The appointment was made public, and Salaita resigned from his position as associate professor of English at Virginia Tech. But he was recently informed by Chancellor Phyllis Wise that the appointment would not go to the university's board, and that he did not have a job to come to in Illinois, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
The university declined to confirm the blocked appointment, but would not respond to questions about whether Salaita was going to be teaching there. (And as recently as two weeks ago, the university confirmed to reporters that he was coming.) The university also declined to answer questions about how rare it is for such appointments to fall through at this stage.
The sources familiar with the university's decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel's policies in Gaza. While many academics at Illinois and elsewhere are deeply critical of Israel, Salaita's tweets have struck some as crossing a line into uncivil behavior.
For instance, there is this tweet: "At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza." Or this one: "By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say antisemitic s**t in response to Israeli terror." Or this one: "Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just f***ing own it already."
Too many people hide behind the excuse that they're not really anti-Semitic, they're actually, "anti-Zionist." To my mind, this is a distinction without a difference - especially since the virulence of their criticism is usually as rabid as any Jew-hater.
This guy obviously has no business filling the heads of young people with his hate. Even if he could somehow prove his "anti-Zionist" ideology was not directed at Judaism, his hate should bar him from teaching. If he expressed such hatred of conservatives or liberals, he shouldn't be able to teach either.
The professor's language was beyond the pale and the U of I administrators were acting properly by withdrawing their offer.