Another Anti-Zionist Professor Punished for His Views (Updated)

by Corey Robin on August 6, 2014

Until two weeks ago, Steven Salaita was heading to a job at the University of Illinois as a professor of American Indian Studies. He had already resigned from his position at Virginia Tech; everything seemed sewn up. Now the chancellor of the University of Illinois has overturned Salaita’s appointment and rescinded the offer. Because of Israel.

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….


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 shit 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 fucking own it already.”


In recent weeks, bloggers and others have started to draw attention to Salaita’s comments on Twitter. But as recently as July 22 (before the job offer was revoked), a university spokeswoman defended Salaita’s comments on Twitter and elsewhere. A spokeswoman told The News-Gazette for an article about Salaita that “faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees.”


I’ve written about a number of these types of cases over the past few years, but few have touched me the way this one has. For three reasons.

First, Steven is a friend on Facebook, and we follow each other on Twitter. I don’t know him personally but I’ve valued his unapologetic defense of the rights of Palestinians. Often he posts articles and information from which I’ve learned quite a bit.

Second, I have no doubt that an easily rattled administrator would find some of my public writings on Israel and Palestine to have crossed a line. If you’re in favor of Salaita being punished, you should be in favor of me being punished. And not just me. On Twitter, many of us—not just on this issue but a variety of issues, and not just on the left, but also on the right—speak in a way that can jar or shock a tender sensibility. We swear, we accuse, we say no, in thunder. That’s the medium. Though I’ve never really thought twice about it, it’s fairly chilling to think that a university official might now be combing through my tweets to see if I had said anything that would warrant me being deemed ineligible for a job. Or worse, since I have tenure, that an administrator might be doing that to any and every potential job candidate.

Third, Cary Nelson, who was once the president of the American Association of University Professors, has weighed in in defense of this decision by the University of Illinois Chancellor.

“I think the chancellor made the right decision,” he said via email. “I know of no other senior faculty member tweeting such venomous statements—and certainly not in such an obsessively driven way. There are scores of over-the-top Salaita tweets. I also do not know of another search committee that had to confront a case where the subject matter of academic publications overlaps with a loathsome and foul-mouthed presence in social media. I doubt if the search committee felt equipped to deal with the implications for the campus and its students. I’m glad the chancellor did what had to be done.”


Asked if he feared that the withdrawal of the job offer could represent a scholar being punished for his unpopular political views, Nelson said he did not think that was the case. “If Salaita had limited himself to expressing his hostility to Israel in academic publications subjected to peer review, I believe the appointment would have gone through without difficulty,” he said. Nelson added that harsh criticism of Israel is widespread among faculty members. “Salaita’s extremist and uncivil views stand alone. There is nothing ‘unpopular’ on this campus about hostility to Israel.”


Once upon a time I wrote an essay for an anthology Nelson edited on unions in academia. When I was the leader of the grad union drive at Yale, he came to campus and spoke out on our behalf. I thought of him as not only a champion of academic freedom but as an especially acerbic—some might even say uncivil—commentator willing to throw a few elbows at his fellow academics. One time, he even compared a fellow English professor to a vampire bat, and proceeded to make fun of his bodily movements and facial gestures. In an academic publication subject to peer review.

But in recent years Nelson has become an outspoken defender of the State of Israel and a critic of the BDS movement. A man who once called for the boycott of a university now thinks boycotts of universities are a grave threat to academic freedom. A man who serially violates the norms of academic civility—urging fellow academics to “give key administrators no peace. Place chanting pickets outside their homes. Disrupt every meeting they attend with sardonic or inspiring public theater”—now invokes those same norms against a critic of Israel. A man who once wrote that “claims about collegiality are being used to stifle campus debate, to punish faculty, and to silence the free exchange of opinion by the imposition of corporate-style conformity,” now complains about an anti-Zionist professor’s “foul-mouthed presence in social media.” A man who once called the movement against hostile environments and in favor of sensitive speech on campus “Orwellian,” now frets over a student of Salaita’s fearing she “would be academically at risk in expressing pro-Israeli views in class.”

I bring this up not to pick on Nelson, but to ask him, and all of you, a simple question: Should Nelson be deemed ineligible for another job at a university simply because of these statements he has written? Should l be deemed ineligible for another job at a university simply because of some “foul-mouthed,” perhaps even intemperate, tweets that I’m sure I have written?

But I bring up Nelson’s case for another reason. And that is that his hypocrisy is not merely his own. It is a symptom of the effects of Zionism on academic freedom, how pro-Israel forces have consistently attempted to shut down debate on this issue, how they “distort all that is right.” Nelson’s U-Turn demonstrates that we’re heading down a very dangerous road. I strongly urge all of you to put on the brakes.

In the meantime, do something for Steven Salaita. Write a note to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise (best to email her at pmwise@illinois.edu and pmischo@illinois.edu), urging her to rescind her rescission. Also, when you write your email, please cc Robert Warrior of the American Indian Studies department at the University of Illinois. His email is rwarrior@illinois.edu. Also cc the department: ais@illinois.edu. As always, be polite, but be firm. Don’t assume this is a done deal; in my experience, it often is not. We’ve managed through our efforts, on multiple occasions, to get nervous administrators to walk away from the ledge.

Update (12:30 pm)

In response to the article that first reported this story, Cary Nelson defended the University of Illinois decision thus:

When Salaita tweets “If you’re defending Israel right now you’re an awful human being” he issues a judgment about his future students that would justify them believing they would be academically at risk in expressing pro-Israeli views in class. When he gives us this definition–“Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948″ he crosses a line into hate speech. When he retweets a suggestion that a well-known American reporter should be met with “the point of a shiv” he crosses a line into inciting violence.


In accordance with Nelson’s dicta, I presume the following individuals would be not hireable at the University of Illinois.

1. Denis Diderot: “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” (Professor Diderot has crossed a line into inciting violence.)

2. Friedrich von Schlegel:  “Religion and morals are symmetrically opposed, just like poetry and philosophy.” (Professor Schlegel has issued a judgment about his future students that would justify them believing they would be academically at risk in expressing pro-religion views in class.)

3. George Orwell:  “As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.” (Professor Orwell has issued a judgment about his future students that would justify them believing they would be academically at risk in expressing pro-socialist or pro-Christian views in class.)

4. Mary McCarthy: “The average Catholic perceives no connection between religion and morality, unless it is a question of someone else’s morality.” (Professor McCarthy has issued a judgment about her future students that would justify them believing they would be academically at risk in expressing pro-Catholic views in class.)

5. Samuel Butler:  “The seven deadly sins: Want of money, bad health, bad temper, chastity, family ties, knowing that you know things, and believing in the Christian religion.” (See #3)

6. The Prophet Micah:

Hear this, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel,
who despise justice
and distort all that is right;
who build Zion with bloodshed,
and Jerusalem with wickedness….
Because of you,
Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.


(See #1. Also, maybe, hate speech.)

{ 168 comments }

1

Vance Maverick 08.06.14 at 3:27 pm

“If Salaita had limited himself to expressing his hostility to Israel in academic publications subjected to peer review, I believe the appointment would have gone through without difficulty,” he said.

Is Nelson saying that any speech other than through academic channels puts academic careers at risk? Sure sounds like it….

2

heteroskedastic 08.06.14 at 3:31 pm

Wasn’t there recently a defence of firing people whose opinions we dislike on this very blog? Why should we feel sorry for Steven Salaita but not for Brenden Eich?

3

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 08.06.14 at 3:34 pm

If Professor Steven Salaita had said the same thing about the Palestinians, I’m sure there would have been no problem.

First rule of Israeli war crimes: Don’t talk about Israel’s war crimes!
~

4

Bruce Baugh 08.06.14 at 3:48 pm

Just for starters, the Mozilla Foundation is not an accredited academic institution. It’s not even an unaccredited one. Other differences ma occur to you with more pondering.

5

christian_h 08.06.14 at 3:49 pm

I am also outraged, especially since the offending tweets can at most be accused of a failure to tone it down. They do not even compare to the kind of stuff one sees on social media every day, including of course from academics. (I will resist the admitted temptation to send the chancellor numerous examples of what I consider blatant sexist and racist hate speech on social media by members of the faculty at UI campuses.) It is entirely obvious that what motivated this decision by U of I was the political content of Salaita’s speech, and not the way it was expressed.

6

Ronan(rf) 08.06.14 at 3:54 pm

What is the ‘accredited academic institution’ argument here ?He wasnt at the job (afaict) so are there any legal or professional norm reasons for not hiring him ? I dont agree with the job offer being rescinded, but agree with heteroskedastic here; it seems a double standard to agree with the Eich situation or the firing of that dude at Business insider, but not this.

7

Doctor Science 08.06.14 at 3:54 pm

A very quick glance through Salaita’s twitter and publications suggests to me that he’s saying things that are anti-Zionist, but I don’t see anything that’s out-of-line for what anti-Zionist *Jews* say — or think. e.g. from the summary of Israel’s Dead Soul: He argues that endowing nation-states with souls is a dangerous phenomenon because it privileges institutions and corporations rather than human beings. Bingo, exactly what I’ve been thinking.

Do you know, Cary, if Chancellor Phyllis Wise or Cary Nelson are Jewish? Are they Christian Zionists? — the default position for many soi-disant Evangelicals.

I ask about their religions, because I wonder who’s pressuring them — whether it’s their personal religious communities, or Zionists in the academic community, or deep-pocket donors.

I assume (possibly incorrectly) that Salaita is *not* Jewish. I can easily see how a scholar of Native American Studies could draw some connections between the US and Zionism that would make lots of people *really* uncomfortable, but I figure that *should* be his job.

I have the impression that we give fellow Jews a lot more leeway on anti-Zionism than we do goyim. For instance, Emily Hauser can tweet:Israel is well on its way to being just another in the long list of Jewish disasters & it has only itself & our (Jewish) community to blame.without getting a huge amount of blowback, only some.

8

Ronan(rf) 08.06.14 at 4:01 pm

Is the objection that what he was tweeting wasn’t extreme enough to warrant the reaction ? Or that regardless of what he said(even if blatantly anti semitic) that the offer shouldnt have been rescinded?

9

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 08.06.14 at 4:05 pm

Why should we feel sorry for Steven Salaita but not for Brenden Eich?

This is indeed, a difficult question. After all, all opinions are the same, right?

“George Tiller is a baby-murderer, and he attends this church at this address every Sunday!”

“That’s a lovely cat picture, Cloudia!”

Same thing, eh?

To be more specific about the opinions in question:

1) Condemning Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians citizens.
2) Condemning the sexual orientation of people who are different from himself (including those who report to him at mozilla).

Same thing…if you’re a comfortable glibbertarian asshole. (Pardon the redundancy.)
~

10

Chris Brooke 08.06.14 at 4:07 pm

*** Before quitting the subject of freedom of opinion, it is fit to take some notice of those who say, that the free expression of all opinions should be permitted, on condition that the manner be temperate… ***

And so on.

11

Yama 08.06.14 at 4:07 pm

Looks like another unfortunate victim of the word police. This stuff stinks all over.

12

Donald Johnson 08.06.14 at 4:20 pm

“I assume (possibly incorrectly) that Salaita is *not* Jewish. I can easily see how a scholar of Native American Studies could draw some connections between the US and Zionism that would make lots of people *really* uncomfortable, “

That’s mostly correct. Oddly enough, the analogy is so close that BOTH sides use it. I have an old book by Norman Finkelstein (“Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict) where he draws out the similar reasoning given by the Puritans for settling Massachusetts, the Dutch in South Africa, the Nazis in Eastern Europe (and yes, he says the scale of atrocities are not the same) and the Zionists in Palestine. So I took for granted that the pro-Palestinian side would use this argument.

But in the last ten years, beginning with Benny Morris AFAIK, the Zionists also use it. The reasoning is that since the US did this, why can’t we? Morris is even blunter–he thinks the European Americans had a right to do it. I used to be able to find the whole interview at Ha’aretz, but have settled for this Counterpunch link–

interview with benny morris

Relevant quote “Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.”

13

Donald Johnson 08.06.14 at 4:29 pm

I have mixed feelings about the Mozilla case. If he can be fired for his (stupid and immoral) views on gay rights, could he be fired for his views on other issues? What if he offends Jewish or Arab-American workers with his views on the I/P conflict? Was he imposing his views on people at the company or was it just his own private activism? (I didn’t pay close attention to the issue). But that’s a corporation and whatever one thinks of free speech rights at corporations, free speech at universities is supposed to be a core value.

14

Ronan(rf) 08.06.14 at 4:30 pm

@9 – that’s pretty weak. The point of political correctness is that the offense is in the eye of the offended, so his comments could quite easily be viewed as hyperbolic for starters, excusing anti semitism for seconds(what if someone wrote an excuse for anti black racism by quoting African American crime rates?) and plausibly anti semitic(if you were so inclined)
The point is that Eich was primarily judged for his opinions, not how well he could do the job. Same here. *
Who’s judging all these people ? Do we have an independent panel ? Just because you can’t see the offense doesn’t mean others don’t (or don’t pretend to). This is the problem with turning society and the workplace into a place where you must abide by said political doctrine at all times or you will be shunned by all.

* same arguments for eich not being able to do the job apply here, more or less. (both are weak to irrelevant)

15

TF79 08.06.14 at 4:41 pm

A right wing professor recently got in some hot water at my university for writings in a non-academic medium. The arguments on either side made in that instance were basically identical to those made here, so it’s not immediately clear that this is necessarily a pro/anti Israel thing (though it certainly could be). I wouldn’t be surprised if these sorts of issues start to crop up more frequently – “your time, your computer, your speech” would seem to be a reasonable starting point (though those lines, particularly “your time” are blurry).

16

Yama 08.06.14 at 4:42 pm

Ronan, that is very well said. Thanks.

17

Ethan Gach 08.06.14 at 4:44 pm

“I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now I want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.” Erik Loomis

18

AcademicLurker 08.06.14 at 4:48 pm

If he can be fired for his (stupid and immoral) views on gay rights

He wasn’t fired.

19

Ronan(rf) 08.06.14 at 4:52 pm

Neither was Salaita (afaict)..he just wasn’t hired(seems identical to the Eich case in that respect) Although I accept there might be legal or professional differences here(so I, personally, am only really making a normative argument)

20

Joshua W. Burton 08.06.14 at 5:00 pm

If BDS insists on putting untenured faculty on the rooftops . . . .

21

rea 08.06.14 at 5:01 pm

There is, of course, a significant difference under American constitutional law between a private corporation forcing out an officer for his offensive speech, and a government agency like the University of Illinois doing the same thing.

22

MPAVictoria 08.06.14 at 5:02 pm

“he just wasn’t hired(seems identical to the Eich case in that respect)”

I would not say resigning a position and not being hired for on are identical….

23

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 08.06.14 at 5:08 pm

The point of political correctness

My eyes glaze over.

excusing anti semitism for seconds

Shove it.

My tolerance for “if you’re so tolerant, how come you won’t tolerate my intolerance, Harf! Harf! Harf!” was exhausted long ago.

There is power, and there are the people who it is used against. You don’t get fired for supporting Israel’s war crimes in this country. In fact, you’re more likely to get a job offer from Fred Hiatt at the Washington Post.

As for the guys who used to freely condemn (and discriminate against) gays, blacks, women, etc. and now feel that their rights are being trampled on? They can take it up with their local Men’s Rights Association.

“In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread.”

- Anatole France
~

24

Joshua W. Burton 08.06.14 at 5:12 pm

‘I am living as cheaply as I can, but my expenses are much increased by the law of the land. In England anyone may sleep in the open, provided he has a shilling on his person to rebut the charge of being without visible means of support. But in France, to quote Anatole France from memory, “The law with majestic impartiality forbids the rich, no less than the poor, to sleep in ditches or under haystacks.” That is the worst of equality.’ — J. B. S. Haldane

25

MPAVictoria 08.06.14 at 5:13 pm

““In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread.”

- Anatole France”

Exactly. I actually find some of this guys tweets really offensive, however I don’t think they should be used as a reason not to fire him.

26

J Thomas 08.06.14 at 5:14 pm

#14 The point of political correctness is that the offense is in the eye of the offended

I find this claim, that the point of political correctness is that the offense is in the eye of the offended, to be deeply offensive and nobody should be allowed to say it.

27

heteroskedastic 08.06.14 at 5:16 pm

To be more specific about the opinions in question:

1) Condemning Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians citizens.
2) Condemning the sexual orientation of people who are different from himself (including those who report to him at mozilla).

In other words, we should feel sorry for Salaita not because he was fired for following his conscience and speaking out about an issue of great importance to society, — a violation of his freedom of speech — but simply because he’s on our side.

Eich on the other hand (whom you mischaracterise: the issue IIRC was not that he publicly condemned “the sexual orientation of people who are different from himself”, but that he privately donated money to campaigners against gay marriage) is not, and so shouldn’t expect the same sympathy.

If that’s your position, I don’t see that you can properly have any argument with Salaita being fired — people found his (publicly expressed) views offensive, and they sacked him for it. That’s just as arbitrary as what happened to Eich (perhaps even less, by some measures, since Eich was not fired for his public statements but his private opinions).

28

Donald Johnson 08.06.14 at 5:21 pm

“He wasn’t fired.”

Okay. Maybe there was less to that issue than I thought.

29

tonycpsu 08.06.14 at 5:21 pm

Eich’s “private opinions” (wait, I thought political donations were “speech”?) called into question his ability to treat LGBT employees of the Mozilla foundation fairly. Said employees, upon learning of his hostility toward same-sex marriage, had a very real reason to fear material harm to their employment situation had Eich taken over as CEO. All the slippery slope arguments in the world don’t change that, so there was nothing wrong with people expressing their opinion that Mozilla go a different direction, and, ultimately, Eich stepped down, and while Mozilla could have fought for his right to have his opinions, they chose not to. The system worked as it should.

30

Joshua W. Burton 08.06.14 at 5:27 pm

MPAVictoria @25: Exactly. I actually find some of this guys tweets really offensive, however I don’t think they should be used as a reason not to fire him.

I really don’t think that’s what you meant to say (if it was, my apologies). But it so precisely captures my own view that I’d like to hastily adopt it, if possible before it even knows it’s been disowned. To paraphrase, whatever the merits of the hiring recission (a subject on which I think people of good will can differ, with or without the internal departmental and institutional inputs to which we lack access), I don’t think vulgarity of style or (outside of peer reviewed work) heterodoxy of content should be in itself a mitigating factor toward hiring the candidate. We all love this stuff, or we wouldn’t be here — but it’s too much like hiring the guy who thought to bring donuts to his own job talk.

31

RobNYNY1957 08.06.14 at 5:29 pm

The obvious difference is that the University of Illinois is a state actor, so the First Amendment applies to it. The First Amendment does not apply to Mozilla.

32

rea 08.06.14 at 5:35 pm

When Salaita tweets “If you’re defending Israel right now you’re an awful human being” he issues a judgment about his future students that would justify them believing they would be academically at risk in expressing pro-Israeli views in class.

Absolutely, we must punish professors who express unpopular views to show that we won’t tolerate professors punishing students who express unpopular views.

33

Tyrone Slothrop 08.06.14 at 5:35 pm

Ah, the distemper and tendentiousness on display in this thread should be absolutely splendid to behold…

I recall Mr. Salaita from his book reviews read way back in the day.

34

Joshua W. Burton 08.06.14 at 5:39 pm

Absolutely, we must punish professors who express unpopular views to show that we won’t tolerate professors punishing students who express unpopular views.

Paging Anatole France . . . .

35

Ze Kraggash 08.06.14 at 5:39 pm

“The First Amendment does not apply to Mozilla.”

On the other hand, in Eich’s case a much more fundamental freedom was violated, his freedom of conscience. He didn’t advertize his opinion of the definition marriage in California law.

36

matt w 08.06.14 at 5:43 pm

Ronan: “He wasn’t hired” is a ridiculous understatement. A job offer which he had accepted was rescinded, and he had already acted on assurance of that offer (indeed, he could hardly have done otherwise, because you can hardly pretend to your old university that you’re going to be around next year while you wait for the new one to go through the formalities).

I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know the extent to which that clause will insulate U of I from legal action, but that kind of retraction of an offer that someone has already offered on definitely has a different legal status from simply refusing to hire someone. It looks a lot like promissory estoppel to me — again, I don’t know if that’s actually going to be applicable here but it indicates the way in which telling someone three weeks before classes start “Sorry, you don’t have a job here after all, have a nice life” is different from not hiring them in the first place.

37

Ronan(rf) 08.06.14 at 5:46 pm

matt w – i agree it was abysmal behaviour on the part of the university

38

Corey Robin 08.06.14 at 5:49 pm

I’m asking all of you on this thread who care about the situation of Steven Salaita to get off Crooked Timber for 15 minutes and send an email to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise, urging her to rescind her rescission of a hiring offer to Salaita. It’s great to debate the ins and outs of this case here, but if you think that Salaita was unfairly unhired by Wise, please take the time to send her an email at chancellor@illinois.edu AND pmischo@illinois.edu. From past experience, I can tell you that your emails can have a profound effect on easily addled administrators. Right now, they are only hearing from the other side; they need to hear from you.

39

matt w 08.06.14 at 5:49 pm

Eich was not fired for his public statements but his private opinions

I’m not sure whether it makes a difference to the matter at hand, but he lost his job over giving money to an anti-gay cause, not just for holding anti-gay opinions. Just because the Supreme Court pretends that money is speech doesn’t mean we should too.

40

Doctor Science 08.06.14 at 5:49 pm

Donald Johnson @12:

With friends like Benny Morris, Israel doesn’t need external enemies. That is truly revolting.

And that’s what Salaita seems to be saying. I haven’t seen him saying anything anti-Jewish, nothing that would attack me, my family, or Corey here. He’s said things that are anti-Zionist, but so have Corey and I. What I’ve seem of Salaita’s writing shows a scrupulous care to avoid characterizing racial or ethnic groups as anything in particular. He’s just really hard on specific ideologies and individuals.

And the fact is, there are a *lot* of non- and anti-Zionist Jews in the US, especially among younger people.

41

Layman 08.06.14 at 5:50 pm

“On the other hand, in Eich’s case a much more fundamental freedom was violated, his freedom of conscience. He didn’t advertize his opinion of the definition marriage in California law.”

Of course he did. ‘Money is speech’, so we’re told, and he used his money to fund advertising intended to dehumanize gays. Advertising it is precisely what he did.

42

J Thomas 08.06.14 at 5:57 pm

If that’s your position, I don’t see that you can properly have any argument with Salaita being fired — people found his (publicly expressed) views offensive, and they sacked him for it. That’s just as arbitrary as what happened to Eich (perhaps even less, by some measures, since Eich was not fired for his public statements but his private opinions).

I didn’t hear the details about Eich. But if it’s really parallel to this new thing, probably it was wrong when it happened to him and wrong when it happens to Salaita too.

Not right when it happened to Eich and right for Salaita too.

43

Bruce Wilder 08.06.14 at 5:58 pm

The obvious difference is that the University of Illinois is a state actor, so the First Amendment applies to it. The First Amendment does not apply to Mozilla.

On the one hand: Do you think employers, generally, should be able to dictate one’s political views and expression?

On the other: How does the First Amendment limit the state as an employer from regulating employee political activity or expression? Do you know?

I’m not sure what I think about the general principles, if any, involved, so I won’t make any declarations of my own. I can empathize with the scary business of finding one’s self suddenly without a job, and possibly branded in a way that might make it difficult to find another, in a timely fashion. And, it is frightening to imagine that some activity — a hyperbolic tweet or a donation to a cause — is elevated by the internet from a semi-private expression to broadcast public act, with consequences. Most of us are not public figures, or used to acting with the circumspection of public figures.

Denis Diderot: “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”

Because the French Revolution was such a calm considered affair?

44

AcademicLurker 08.06.14 at 6:00 pm

Regarding Eich: to reiterate -

After his appointment to CEO, the controversy reemerged. In the ensuing public debate, OKCupid and two gay application developers called for a boycott of the company. A number of Mozilla employees asked him to step down, while others spoke out on their blogs in his favor. Three of Mozilla Corporation’s six directors resigned following Eich’s appointment, which the Mozilla Foundation attributed to “a variety of reasons. Two of the board members had been planning to leave for some time, one since January and one explicitly at the end of the CEO search, regardless of the person selected. On April 3, 2014, Eich stepped down as CEO and resigned from working at Mozilla.

He wasn’t fired.

45

matt w 08.06.14 at 6:02 pm

Corey@37: done.

46

Corey Robin 08.06.14 at 6:15 pm

matt w @44: Thanks.

47

MPAVictoria 08.06.14 at 6:20 pm

“Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948″

That is way out of line. Anti-semitism led to millions of people being gassed and then burned in giant furnaces. There is nothing honorable about it.

That doesn’t mean that the university should have rescinded their offer of employment.

48

Erik Loomis 08.06.14 at 6:22 pm

As someone who has directly benefited from CT’s activism in defense of academic freedom, I can attest to its power to affect wavering administrators. I urge everyone to write to the UI Chancellor, as I did.

49

Brett 08.06.14 at 6:22 pm

When he gives us this definition–“Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948″ he crosses a line into hate speech.

That absolutely is hate speech, to the point where I’d be concerned as to whether he’d mistreat any openly Jewish students. And I’m going to guess that if there was a white professor blocked from teaching a race relations class because he’d openly espoused the idea that black people are inferior and lynching an acceptable response to their “crimes”, you wouldn’t be going to bat for that guy in the way that you’re going to bat for your friend here on free speech grounds.

50

Ze Kraggash 08.06.14 at 6:24 pm

I don’t think firing/hiring is exactly the issue here. Rather it’s institutions’ susceptibility to social media witch-hunts. This seems to be a relatively new phenomenon. New kind of weapon.

51

J Thomas 08.06.14 at 6:25 pm

The chancellor of the university of Illinois must be under a whole lot of pressure.

Consider — if she decides that one guy’s off-the-job talk crosses the line a little bit too far, but somebody else’s is not quite far enough to take action, she’s going to have a whole bunch of cases to judge among the untenured staff. One after another, with potentially a great big public controversy each time.

She has to be under a whole lot of pressure to take action against free speech that sets her up for that to happen.

52

J Thomas 08.06.14 at 6:32 pm

“Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948″

That is way out of line. Anti-semitism led to millions of people being gassed and then burned in giant furnaces. There is nothing honorable about it.

We’re seeing that out of context Notice the single quotes around ‘anti-Semitism’.

Zionists take decent humanitarian action and call it anti-semitism, when it makes Israel look bad. They blur the meaning between good things — trying to help victims — and bad things — victimizing Jews.

It isn’t completely illogical because in a way if you do anything that helps the victims of Zionists that must hurt Zionists, and if Zionists are Jews then you are hurting Jews.

If you honorably object to Israelis blowing up children, that becomes ‘antisemitism’.

If that’s what he’s saying, is it such a terrible thing for him to say it?

53

MPAVictoria 08.06.14 at 6:34 pm

“If that’s what he’s saying, is it such a terrible thing for him to say it?”

No, however being a professor of the humanities he should have been able to say it in a clearer, less offensive way.

Right?

54

J Thomas 08.06.14 at 6:47 pm

…being a professor of the humanities he should have been able to say it in a clearer, less offensive way.”

I haven’t even seen the whole tweet, much less the context.

Meanwhile yesterday the counted dead increased to 1.865, not including people in tunnels or at the border who tend not to reach hospitals to be counted.

And people are arguing about whether this guy’s tweets were too “intemperate”. You want to talk about offensive? This attack was an official Israeli offensive.

55

MPAVictoria 08.06.14 at 6:51 pm

“I haven’t even seen the whole tweet, much less the context.”

Do you know what tweets are?

56

christian_h 08.06.14 at 6:52 pm

I think one should not try to express something complicated (what J Thomas explains in 51., and I agree this is likely what Prof. Saital meant) on twitter. Ever. It’s similar to chants at political rallies – they often make me squirm even though I know what they intend. So yeah, I think there was a lack of judgement here. But if an occasional lapse of judgement was reason to fire academics there wouldn’t be many of us left. And Wise (and Nelson) know this. Which suggests that this lack of judgement about how to express an opinion is not the actual reason for this firing. The politics of the content of those opinions is.

57

Barry 08.06.14 at 6:53 pm

Donald Johnson 08.06.14 at 4:29 pm

” I have mixed feelings about the Mozilla case. If he can be fired for his (stupid and immoral) views on gay rights, could he be fired for his views on other issues?”

Since you are either ignorant of the facts or lying, why don’t you STFU?

58

Luke 08.06.14 at 6:53 pm

Comparisions to the Eich business are utterly spurious. Legalistic arguments aside, this is because (1) Eich’s behaviour was personally offensive to his coworkers, and (2) the job of an academic working in the humanities is to have opinions, many of which will be controversial by necessity. If someone can be fired for having the ‘wrong’ position, then the faculty has just become an ideological rubber stamp.

59

christian_h 08.06.14 at 6:54 pm

For example there is no doubt in my mind Wise or Nelson would not object to hiring Benny Morris. Who actually applauds genocide and ethnic cleansing as indicated by Donald above.

60

Brett 08.06.14 at 7:00 pm

@J Thomas

It isn’t completely illogical because in a way if you do anything that helps the victims of Zionists that must hurt Zionists, and if Zionists are Jews then you are hurting Jews

There’s a major difference between “attacking someone holding an ideology who also may or may not be X” and “espousing an ideology hating all X people because some of them believe in an ideology.”

And people are arguing about whether this guy’s tweets were too “intemperate”. You want to talk about offensive? This attack was an official Israeli offensive

“Why are you Americans complaining about adjunct pay? Don’t you know that people are dying in third world factories?”

61

J Thomas 08.06.14 at 7:11 pm

#59 Brett

“It isn’t completely illogical because in a way if you do anything that helps the victims of Zionists that must hurt Zionists, and if Zionists are Jews then you are hurting Jews”

There’s a major difference between “attacking someone holding an ideology who also may or may not be X” and “espousing an ideology hating all X people because some of them believe in an ideology.”

Yes. And Zionists regularly try to get people confused between the two. When someone disapproves of the policies of the Israeli government, often Zionists call them antisemitic.

62

jonnybutter 08.06.14 at 7:13 pm

I’d like to just ‘retweet’ christian_h @ #58 and see if anyone defending this recinding has a direct counter argument. If you all are really interested in what’s right rather than what rhetorical trick you can get use in a given situation, surely you’ll have an argument.

…there is no doubt in my mind Wise or Nelson would not object to hiring Benny Morris. Who actually applauds genocide and ethnic cleansing as indicated by Donald above.

63

Donald Johnson 08.06.14 at 7:15 pm

“re is no doubt in my mind Wise or Nelson would not object to hiring Benny Morris. Who actually applauds genocide and ethnic cleansing “

Darn, that’s a great point. Should have thought of that myself. I’ll put it in my email to the chancellor.

64

novakant 08.06.14 at 7:27 pm

65

JDM 08.06.14 at 7:28 pm

Another difference is that this case is not hiring someone to be the head of an organization. For instance, I’d expect a candidate for pres or chancellor of a university to have their public statements combed thoroughly for any hint of possible controversy because they’re basically fundraisers. Part of their job description is to be inoffensive to practically everyone.

66

Donald Johnson 08.06.14 at 7:34 pm

“Since you are either ignorant of the facts or lying, why don’t you STFU?”

I did, on that issue. Scroll up and look.

67

christian_h 08.06.14 at 7:41 pm

Ali Abuminah actually interviewed Nelson and this happened: “When asked if he would oppose the hiring of a person who said that “someone who defends Hamas firing rockets towards Tel Aviv is an awful person,” Nelson answered: “No.””

http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/university-illinois-fires-professor-steven-salaita-after-gaza-massacre-tweets

Maybe Nelson should be fired for demonstrating lack of judgement?

68

MPAVictoria 08.06.14 at 7:43 pm

I am still not sure that J Thomas knows what tweeting is.

69

J Thomas 08.06.14 at 7:57 pm

“I am still not sure that J Thomas knows what tweeting is.”

I don’t do it myself. It’s messages limited to 140 characters, that fit into a network of other messages. People who follow your messages see them in order, so they fit together that way. They can be hashtagged to fit into an extending conversation, and I understand there’s at least one other way to set up a topic that people can respond to. People have conversations with twitter.

So the message length does not require people to send short messages into the void with no context.

The particular tweet we were discussing was 100 characters long, leaving room for another 40 characters in that same message, plus it was wrenched out of its context.

70

MPAVictoria 08.06.14 at 8:04 pm

“The particular tweet we were discussing was 100 characters long, leaving room for another 40 characters in that same message”

Ah yes but there is no requirement to use the whole 140 characters…

Okay thank you for responding.

71

Corey Robin 08.06.14 at 8:16 pm

University of Illinois Chancellor on December 27, 2013: “At Illinois, we value academic freedom as one of our core principles and cherish the critical importance of the ability of faculty to pursue learning, discovery and engagement without regard to political considerations.”

http://coreyrobin.com/2014/08/06/university-of-illinois-chancellor-comes-out-in-favor-of-academic-freedom-oh-wait-a-minute/

72

Tom 08.06.14 at 8:18 pm

I have written to the chancellor in support of Mr. Salaita but let me add few comments.

The argument in favor of Salaita is not that he is an academic but rather that freedom of speech is a value to defend. We hold this more true for universities but it should equally apply to corporations. Corey, Chris and Alex had a nice piece about this.

It is also for this reason that I agree with heteroskedastic above (nice name, by the way). If you believe that personal beliefs should not matter for being hired, or fired, then you should have protested in Eich’s case as well. Whether you share Eich’s values or not (I don’t, for that matter) should be irrelevant. The norm should shift so that employers are not allowed to punish people just for their personal beliefs.

p.s.: Oh, and by the way, it was inappropriate for the NBA to force Sterling out as well.

73

Sebastian H 08.06.14 at 8:20 pm

Academic “freedom” issues always make my head hurt. as a general principle you shouldn’t get fired (or rescinded or forced to resign) for outside opinions that don’t strongly impact your job. But I’m not willing to make the perfect the enemy of the good so it turns out that academics have such a protection lets work with it.

So on this case he shouldn’t have his job rescinded. But it is really weird knowing that Corey also vocally supports the BDS movement which may not be an attack on academic freedom if you draw the definition really tight (though I would say even then, it is). But it is absolutely an attack on ideology and discourse in a way to try to limit debate of the same style as more classic attacks on academic freedom.

74

Lynne 08.06.14 at 8:47 pm

Tom @ 72,

I agree.

“I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

-Voltaire

And this business of claiming that it’s Salaita’s “incivility” that was the problem is scary.

75

Trader Joe 08.06.14 at 8:51 pm

A story of two professors

So professor A goes and lies down in the street to protest his cause. The cops treat him to a ride downtown but he’s home in time to sip a latte and blog about it. The next day he’s a teachers lounge hero for his valiant stand. He’s tenured after all, so what can the University do. No one doubts the sincerity of professor A’s view and he’s rightly praised for taking a stand – a little ventured, a little gained.

Professor B tweets his view in no uncertain terms, occasionally using harsh language. Professor B isn’t taken for a ride downtown, but whist sipping his latte and contemplating just the right riposte for another blistering tweet he’s advised he’s been sacked. Professor B has no tenure, indeed he’s not even signed into a job. No one doubts the sincerity of professor B’s view and he’s rightly praised for taking a stand – apparently much more ventured, probably little gained.

Seems like tenure is what makes all the difference, not what was said, the rightness of the cause or how it was said.

76

The Temporary Name 08.06.14 at 9:17 pm

Somehow the link to the university’s code of conduct is missing here: http://www.ahr.illinois.edu/units/ler.html

But this was it: http://web.archive.org/web/20120118235254/http://www.ethics.uillinois.edu/policies/code.cfm

77

jonnybutter 08.06.14 at 9:17 pm

Seems like tenure is what makes all the difference, not what was said, the rightness of the cause or how it was said.

TJ at #75
hmmm, it isn’t clear that tenure makes *all* the difference. Key words in your sentence are ‘seems like’. If what you say is true, then that makes it normative to punish academics for saying whatever is out of fashion. In that case all academics ought to have rhetorical tenure..AKA freedom of speech.

78

jonnybutter 08.06.14 at 9:18 pm

BTW, I also sent my emails. They were very easy to write.

79

CJColucci 08.06.14 at 9:25 pm

It is my occasional professional obligation to handle First Amendment cases involving academics, so I have to be careful what I say here. In general, however, faculty (or prospective faculty) at public universities are protected by both the First Amendment and general principles of academic freedom from suffering adverse action (other than having people think they’re assholes) for what they say on matters of “public concern.” (“the Dean is a f*****g moron” doesn’t count as “public concern”) (Administrators have different responsibilities and the scope of their protected speech varies accordingly.) At private universities, the First Amendment does not apply and many private institutions, such as religiously-oriented ones, do restrict what their faculty can say. For most other private universities, however, general principles of academic freedom, usually embodied in a contract or collective bargaining agreement, give a kind of First Amendment-Lite protection to faculty, which is usuallly good enough. I say that because I doubt that even the most politically engaged academic considering offers from, say, the (public) University of Buffalo and the (private) Syracuse University would bother about the difference. Whether the prospective professor prefers chicken wings or salt potatoes would probably weigh more heavily than the First Amendment.

80

Brett Dunbar 08.06.14 at 9:27 pm

“Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948″

Does sound fairly appalling, however it was a tweet and they can end up being so abbreviated as to obscure the intended meaning. He may have meant:

“Zionists: transforming [being accused of] ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948″

As some of the more extreme Zionists have accused people like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of anti-Semitism. You might be proud to numbered alongside such men.

81

LFC 08.06.14 at 9:41 pm

I agree w Christian h (above) that Salaita exercised rather poor judgment in his tweets, but the job offer should not have been rescinded. Some professors really care that their students come to see things the way they do. I don’t like that style of teaching (it smacks too much of dogmatism for me) but it does exist. It should be distinguished from indoctrination and/or silencing or downgrading of students with contrary views, neither of which has any place in the classroom. Without evidence that Salaita has done the latter in the past, I don’t think Nelson’s speculations about Salaita’s future conduct, based solely on Salaita’s tweets, are persuasive.

82

J Thomas 08.06.14 at 9:44 pm

#74 Lynne

And this business of claiming that it’s Salaita’s “incivility” that was the problem is scary.

Yes. I’d hate to be in the Chancellor of U of Illinois’s shoes now.

Every time something comes up with a nontenured teacher and somebody accuses him of incivility, she has to decide whether it was incivil *enough* to fire.

And each time there may be a bunch of fanatics on both sides dragging the university’s name through the mud about it.

She’s likely to regret this for as long as she lasts.

83

Louis Proyect 08.06.14 at 9:50 pm

If that’s your position, I don’t see that you can properly have any argument with Salaita being fired — people found his (publicly expressed) views offensive, and they sacked him for it.

People get fired all the time when they embarrass their employer. Jimmy the Greek got fired from CBS for talking about how Black athletes became dominant because of breeding under slavery. Nobody in their right mind would argue that Sailita was going to embarrass U. of Illinois because of his tweets. This happened for the same reason Communists lost their jobs in the 1950s. There is a widespread effort by the Israel lobby to silence professors and students who are opposed to Zionism. If you have tenure, there is probably not much to worry about–at least for the time being. But Sailita got snookered in between jobs. This is going to be an important case for freedom of speech. I hope that you people can do a better job on this than you did with Ward Churchill.

84

T 08.06.14 at 9:56 pm

@73
Both Corey and Steven support boycotting scholars based on affiliation (BDS). Welcome to the slippery slope as predicted.

85

The Temporary Name 08.06.14 at 9:56 pm

The university should be understanding of the idea that, however prickly he was, he was prickly over people getting slaughtered. It is what it is. (Eich was worried about…what? Boys kissing?)

It’s fine for academics (in a safe position) to recognize when a great crime is being committed. It should also be time for an institution employing historians, political scientists and so on to acknowledge that people are being crushed to steal stuff. Divestment around South Africa did happen way back when, and it was a reasonable stance.

86

Doctor Science 08.06.14 at 9:59 pm

I can’t believe people are dragging Brenden Eich into this.

The problem with Eich was, first of all, *power*. Eich wasn’t forced out because of his *opinions*, he was forced out because he had *already* used his power (money) to actively harm same-sex families, by denying them the rights and protections of legal marriage. Supporting Prop.8 wasn’t just an opinion, it was a targetted harmful action.

Mozilla employees had every reason to fear that Eich would use his increased power against them, because he’d done it already.

There’s also a matter of culture or (almost) religion. I saw several remarks from Mozilla employees re: Eich, talking about the moral significance of open source and how this was tied, in their minds, to a general openness toward human diversity and respect. They felt that Mr. Eich’s narrow view of appropriate human relationships went against the open source credo, and they didn’t know if they could continue working with the organization if it didn’t take that credo seriously.

87

The Temporary Name 08.06.14 at 10:06 pm

Yes, the Eich comparison is stupid.

88

John Quiggin 08.06.14 at 10:11 pm

My understanding of the current US situation is that employees in general don’t have a protected right to private political expression, but that academic freedom protects both public (that is, with academic position stated) and private expression. I’d favor a general right of private expression, which would have protected Eich if it existed, but I don’t see why a boss should be protected while workers are not.

The Salaita case, by contrast, is an erosion of existing freedoms.

89

The Temporary Name 08.06.14 at 10:21 pm

but I don’t see why a boss should be protected while workers are not

Additionally, Eich was in the position of being the face of this thing he was trying to distribute. I heard of Salaita yesterday and he wasn’t going to run the U of I or anything.

90

Brett Bellmore 08.06.14 at 10:22 pm

I think the attitude here is, “We’ll uphold our employees’ freedom of speech, but this doesn’t require us to make somebody an employee when we find out they’re a loon before we’ve already hired them.”

91

jonnybutter 08.06.14 at 10:28 pm

Both Corey and Steven support boycotting scholars based on affiliation (BDS). Welcome to the slippery slope as predicted.

sigh. It is you, T at 84, who is deliberately creating a slippery slope with your slippery language. BDS doesn’t ‘boycott scholars’. One uses the ‘slippery slope’ argument because it imputes an arbitrary result, which is alarming. But BDS is not arbitrary.

I will say this for people like Benny Morris and others like that: they do come right out and say it. It’s repulsive, but at least you can deal with it for what it is; all the euphemizing it in the ‘civilized world’ (esp. the US) enables this tragedy in a crucial way.

92

roy belmont 08.06.14 at 10:43 pm

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© at 5:08 pm:

I grew up with a work by Anatole France on the living room book shelf.
Penguin Island. It’s about a delusional nearly blind monk who shipwrecks on an island and, mistaking penguins for humans, baptizes them. This creates a problem in heaven as the penguins now, through the magic of baptism, have souls, so must be granted free will and intelligence. It’s got some neat stuff in it.
-
For what it’s worth, I’ll send an email in support of Salaita as soon as I post this.
Because, surprise to you maybe Donald Johnson, I still believe in the importance of gesture too.
But.
Stephen Salaita is an Arab, Cary Nelson is a Jew.
These facts are central to this case, and they are still, even now, taboo subjects for above-ground discussion.
Netanyahu has contempt for America, and for Americans. He’s not alone in that.
You can pretend all you want but the world is moving inexorably toward the truth, and at the same time the one-sided carnage mounts.
The cease-fire will, seemingly at this point, end soon, if it hasn’t already been broken by Israel, and the clot of murderous wretches who have massacred 400 children in Gaza will resume their blood-drenched enterprise.
They are operating behind veils of enforced ignorance and nearly intentional illusion. The veils are tearing. The hideous nature of what’s behind them is going to be revealed.
You can’t stop that with politesse and timidity.
Either talk about it now, or talk about it after it blows up in your face.

93

LFC 08.06.14 at 10:55 pm

Louis Proyect @83
It’s not clear whom your comment is addressed to.

“I hope that you people can do a better job on this than you did with Ward Churchill.”

Who the hell are you addressing here w “you people”? There are all kinds of different people on this thread. Your mode of address is insulting.

94

T 08.06.14 at 11:37 pm

@91 @73

The resolution passed by the ASA supported by Corey and Steven prevents scholars affiliated with the management of Israeli institutions from speaking at ASA conferences (deans, gov’t official, institute heads, etc). That violates academic freedom in my book.

So now academic freedom is violated again. Goose/Gander

I guess by your standards no academic boycott is arbitrary if you think the cause is just. If so, we both could make a very long list of countries whose affiliated scholars we could boycott. Like what’s happening in China/Tibet? Saudi Arabia? Egypt? Myanmar? Or why not just name people?

There is a reason that the likes of AAUP oppose academic boycotts and why the South African boycott generally left out academics.

btw-when I think of slippery slope, I think of an exception to a principle (academic freedom in this case) that can lead to further exceptions, using similar justifications or not, since the bright line was erased.

95

roy belmont 08.06.14 at 11:52 pm

Ward Churchill was repeatedly ridiculed and accused of bigotry “here”, not to mention nationally. I was “here” and saw it. Anyone who defended his right to say what he felt was ridiculed and accused of bigotry. Heaven forfend someone should try to defend the actual content of his statements.
Any thread that touched on Israel/Palestine quickly devolved into that dynamic. It wasn’t anywhere near equally weighted, the abuse and viciousness was virtually entirely on one side directed at the other. It would get pretty inflamed, unless the beleaguered minority just up and left the field.
That led to quite a long time of zero-nada threads on the issue.
That was also the root problem that resulted in the infamous abb1 getting banned, though it was superficially about his instigation and intentional triggering of nasty responses generally. “Trolling” I believe is what the kids are calling that these days.
The seemingly inevitable procession was pretty visible. And it was tacitly sanctioned, though I think that had more to do with ethical confusion and polite timidity, and recognition of the futility of seeking resolve at that time, than any one-sidedness on the part of the site’s “owners”.
Proyect also was seriously mistreated “here” himself, repeatedly subject to the same barrage of scorn and vicious ridicule. I saw that as well. Which may explain the comment some.
You probably find that insulting because you have no operant sense of local history.
If you do, it’s facetious and specious to pretend there isn’t a massively disproportionate power dynamic on display, still, especially in the larger public arena.
That disproportion is point of fact the very thing Corey Robin’s put out the call to arms on.
The tide has shifted, at last.
Somewhat.

96

The Temporary Name 08.06.14 at 11:55 pm

Here’s what the ASA says the boycott means.

http://www.theasa.net/what_does_the_academic_boycott_mean_for_the_asa/

97

jonnybutter 08.07.14 at 12:05 am

just for T and others who won’t bother to click on The Temporary Name’s link, here is a sentence from the document: “We are expressly not endorsing a boycott of Israeli scholars engaged in individual-level contacts and ordinary forms of academic exchange, including presentations at conferences, public lectures at campuses, and collaboration on research and publication. “

98

T 08.07.14 at 12:31 am

@97
I asked Corey in an earlier tread if Jacob Frenkel now former head of the Bank of Israel (Central Bank) and prominent economic scholar would be allowed to speak at an ASA conference while still in his role as Governor. He said no. That’s a violation of academic freedom. That would go for any scientific institute chair, university dean, etc. It’s not meaningless.

99

jonnybutter 08.07.14 at 12:38 am

I asked Corey in an earlier tread if Jacob Frenkel…would be allowed to speak at an ASA conference while still in his role as Governor. He said no. … It’s not meaningless.

If it were meaningless, why would anyone do it?! If he is an Israeli government official, then…?

100

Corey Robin 08.07.14 at 12:40 am

T: “I asked Corey in an earlier tread if Jacob Frenkel now former head of the Bank of Israel (Central Bank) and prominent economic scholar would be allowed to speak at an ASA conference while still in his role as Governor. He said no.”

Could you give me the link where we had this exchange? I can’t find it.

101

godoggo 08.07.14 at 12:55 am

Proyect expressed his boiling rage (JOKE!) about getting banned here. Hope he doesn’t mind the link.

102

Doctor Science 08.07.14 at 1:06 am

roy belmont:
Stephen Salaita is an Arab, Cary Nelson is a Jew.

Are you saying this because you have personal knowledge? Or because that’s what they’re “acting like”?

103

T 08.07.14 at 1:44 am

Corey -
I recall a post w/Chris(?) where you each wrote a paragraph about the boycott, you pro and him con. My comments were limited to this point. I’ll look for it.

104

Corey Robin 08.07.14 at 1:53 am

T: Henry Farrell and I co-wrote a post about a bill to punish BDS supporters, where we acknowledged that I was pro-BDS and he was anti-. I’ve looked there and did a search for Frenkel and Bank and got nothing. I’ve done the same search on all of my posts related to Israel and BDS. Turned up nothing. I’d search for “T” but that’s not practical. I’d appreciate it if you had actual proof that I made the claim you attribute to me.

105

MPAVictoria 08.07.14 at 2:16 am

Forget about it LFC….. it’s roy town.

106

T 08.07.14 at 2:16 am

Corey –
http://crookedtimber.org/2014/02/04/anti-boycott-bill-discussion-post/

See your comment 291

“Stan Fischer: if he were currently a member of the Israeli government and officially representing it, no, he would not be allowed to speak. That he once was a member of the government would not, as far as I know, be grounds for a boycott.” (Fischer was also a former Governor of the Israeli Central Bank)

I don’t know if you consider barring Israeli academics (with gov’t, institute or university management roles) from speaking at academic conferences a restriction of academic freedom, but I do. Similarly for barring jointly sponsored academic conferences w/Israeli institutions. That’s a big deal in certain disciplines, esp. the hard sciences.

107

Glenn 08.07.14 at 2:20 am

I’m very careful to avoid charges of anti-Semitism.

Whenever I see horrible crimes against humanity, I pause before voicing outrage just in case the perpetrator is a Zionist, doing only what comes natural to him.

Zionists can’t help it because of the way they were raised.

Some poorly educated White people still want to treat Blacks the same way.

108

J Thomas 08.07.14 at 2:42 am

“Stephen Salaita is an Arab, Cary Nelson is a Jew.”

Are you saying this because you have personal knowledge? Or because that’s what they’re “acting like”?

Here is a source that claims Salaita is an arab-american. I don’t know how they reached this conclusion.
http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/authors.php?auid=11661

I did not immediately find a claim whether Nelson is Jewish, but I found an essay by him.
http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2013/12/asa-boycott-israelhighereducation.html

He says the UN was right to give Israel to the Zionists because of the Holocaust. Palestinians are victims too and they deserve some of the West Bank. But both sides feel like they are the only victims when both are victims who deserve stuff. For many Israelis, Judaism is about the land and they can’t practice their religion anywhere else. So they must have their own nation.

There cannot be peace, and a one-state solution would cause a lot of deaths on both sides so people who advocate are responsible for a lot of deaths. They need a two-state solution.

When we do an academic boycott that only makes Israelis feel more like victims and does nothing to help Palestinians. And it destroys academic freedom. He says what we should do is to have a boycott only of products from the West Bank and do nothing else, and that will force Israel to give part of the West Bank to Palestinians and then it will be OK. (Though he does not hope for peace in his lifetime.) But when bullies forced the boycott through, that victimized Nelson and people like him.

He sounds Jewish, but I haven’t seen proof.

109

Corey Robin 08.07.14 at 2:49 am

T at 98: “I asked Corey in an earlier tread if Jacob Frenkel now former head of the Bank of Israel (Central Bank) and prominent economic scholar would be allowed to speak at an ASA conference while still in his role as Governor. He said no.”

When you posted this upthread, I was focused on the “now former head” part of the comment and not the “while still in his role as Governor” part. As my comment in the earlier thread makes clear, if someone is a former member of the government, no, they would not be subject to it. But if they, to use my language, “were currently a member of the Israeli government and officially representing it,” then, yes, they would be. And no, I don’t see any argument for how refusing to invite a government spokesperson, in her capacity as a spokesperson, to an academic conference, is a violation of academic freedom.

110

LFC 08.07.14 at 3:17 am

roy belmont @95
This is all a side issue, so I’m not going to respond. Wd just become a distraction and waste of time. I shdn’t have made the orig comment (@93) in the first place, most likely.

111

MPAVictoria 08.07.14 at 3:31 am

“He sounds Jewish,”

And what exactly do Jews sound like?

112

MPAVictoria 08.07.14 at 3:32 am

Was kidding in the above.
/just in case that wasn’t clear.

113

Doctor Science 08.07.14 at 3:41 am

J Thomas:

The fact that Nelson says “For many Israelis, Judaism is a fundamentally land-based religion” actually makes me doubt that he is Jewish. Judaism hasn’t been “a fundamentally land-based religion” for millennia.

whoops, I’m wrong. He *is* Jewish — he’s also completely full of it about this “land-based religion”, imho. His biography leads me to suspect that he’s the kind of left-wing Jew with little respect for or knowledge of Judaism as a religion.

114

T 08.07.14 at 3:43 am

Guess we’ll have to differ. When the head of an Israeli scientific institute can’t shows up in their official capacity and discuss their institute’s research agenda or present a chemistry paper, academic freedom is infringed. And when joint conferences are barred with Israeli institutions that infringes academic freedom as well. And an academic boycott isn’t about “spokespeople,” it’s mostly about scientists and doctors.

Still trying to figure out the difference between “actual proof” and “proof.”

115

Tyrone Slothrop 08.07.14 at 3:44 am

Oddly enough, it appears some unknown but seemingly motivated individual edited Cary Nelson’s Wikipedia page in order to affix Zionistto the beginning of his description as professor of English and Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—that jaundiced (and unsourced) term was elided yesterday, but not quickly enough to have escaped Google’s cache for a spell.

It’s a weird world we live in…

116

J Thomas 08.07.14 at 4:25 am

“He sounds Jewish,”

And what exactly do Jews sound like?

He made a big deal about how the Holocaust means that Zionists deserve to have Israel, that Israelis are still victims no matter that they’re the ones who’re victimizing others now, there’s no way to do it fair so let’s just do something that Israel can live with. Of course there won’t be peace but Israel can live with that just fine. Israelis will have to give up most of the West Bank or lose their souls, and they aren’t willing to give that up, so let’s apply firm pressure to both sides. The pressure on Israel should be that we stop buying goods made in the West Bank and nothing else — too much pressure on Israel would get them upset and we shouldn’t upset the victims.

He sounds like a Zionist who thinks that Israel should someday give up most of the West Bank, someday when they’re ready to. Not necessarily a Jewish Zionist, but who else would put that much thought into it and reach those conclusions?

117

Meredith 08.07.14 at 5:16 am

Just sent my email to Chancellor “Wise.” I do urge everyone to write, just somethinganythingintelligent, need be nothing fancy (if you’re inspired, fine, but not necessary). Emails to administrators work. Think of it from their point of view. They’re busy busy busy (they really are) and are just trying to “manage” things. Path of least resistance, that sort of thing. Chancellor Wise probably got pressure from various places (I hate to think of all the possible whences) and just tried to minimize conflict in her own world. Let her know that her decision will not minimize conflict, and she’ll pay attention. Your email can help make it EASIER for her to change her decision.

118

Colin Danby 08.07.14 at 5:40 am

Ditto. Wise is a former provost at my campus and a capable administrator who certainly understands that rescinding an offer at this stage is an unusual breach of protocol. You just need a short statement of concern and support for Salaita.

119

Mario 08.07.14 at 7:51 am

“At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?”

Well, I would be, of course, and so would be anyone who is not completely insane. How can an allegedly intelligent person write such drivel? The other tweets are not much better. And they are all obviously hate speech.

But more generally – nobody who lacks such basic control over his or her emotions should be allowed on a position of responsibility like a professorship. It doesn’t matter if he talks that way about Israel, Gays, Libertarians, even the Islamic State, etc. My opinion, anyway.

120

Pete 08.07.14 at 9:00 am

The fundamental problem is:

- condemning atrocities is morally correct (possibly obligatory)
– Israel is fundamentally a race-based state
– condemning atrocities by Israel is therefore morally obligatory racism.

The two are intertwined. The atrocities are committed on behalf of and in the name of the Jewish people: this is the stated position of the Israeli government and many of its high-profile media supporters.

(Other thought of the day: why does this attract more outrage than, for example, the ISIS ongoing driving of tens of thousands of people from their homes into unsurvivable conditions? Because ISIS don’t have a media and political operation trying to get us to support them.)

121

Ronan(rf) 08.07.14 at 9:32 am

““Stephen Salaita is an Arab, Cary Nelson is a Jew.””

Sounds like the beginning of a pitch for a remake of The Odd Couple.

122

Niall McAuley 08.07.14 at 10:01 am

Stephen Salaita is an Arab, Cary Nelson is a Jew.

Together, they fight crime!

123

Ze Kraggash 08.07.14 at 10:31 am

“The atrocities are committed on behalf of and in the name of the Jewish people: this is the stated position of the Israeli government and many of its high-profile media supporters.”

It’s curious how a common negative response to Salaita is “Professor Blames Jews For Anti-Semitism”, thus in effect re-stating that ‘Zionist’ is synonymous with ‘Jew’, and thus confirming Salaita’s point. Weird.

124

PGD 08.07.14 at 10:42 am

The Brendan Eich comparison is kind of trolling, but it’s valuable because it makes clear that there are many on the left who don’t really support the principle that employers should not sanction employees on the basis of private political speech. Saliata’s speech was much more inflamatory than anything Eich did — all Eich did was contribute money to a political campaign that was supported by the majority of the state of California, and which supported a conception of marriage that until very recently was held by the majority of Americans, including the current President of the United States.

The most relevant distinction between the two cases to me is that Eich was up for the leadership role in the organization; in that case personal speech takes on a different role because you become the public face of the organization. And one’s career continues even if you are not a high-level appointee. I don’t think people would have a problem if Saliata’s tweets disqualified him from being chancellor of the U of Illinois. But the clear goal here is to destroy his capacity to work in his field altogether.

125

PaulB 08.07.14 at 11:09 am

The tweet about the necklace of children’s teeth is quite different from the other two. It’s dog-whistle anti-semitism.

I don’t know whether the public use of coded racist language should cause one to be unhired from an academic post.

126

Lynne 08.07.14 at 12:23 pm

“The tweet about the necklace of children’s teeth is quite different from the other two. It’s dog-whistle anti-semitism.”

Why is it anti-semitic to criticize Netanyahu? Of course it’s hyperbole, but it’s pointed hyperbole, given the death-count among Gaza’s children.

127

details matter 08.07.14 at 2:32 pm

@ 113
learn to read
it is *Israelis* who treat their religion as fundamentally land based
yes, the majority of jews – those in the diaspora – are not land based; however, it is clear that the ultra orthodox of the state of Israel are really different then people like me; you would know htis if you knew anything about jews

(and I have to get moderated for politeness to appear in a thread on censorship; the irony, it burns)

128

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 08.07.14 at 3:01 pm

In other words, we should feel sorry for Salaita not because he was fired for following his conscience and speaking out about an issue of great importance to society, — a violation of his freedom of speech — but simply because he’s on our side

heteroskedastic @27, I don’t think I could possibly be more clear about the differences without repeating myself.

Power matters. The facts matter.

What I hear you saying is that all speech is the same, and must therefore be defended. Otherwise, hypocrisy!

Perhaps you should change your name to homoskedastic, it would be a better fit for your regression analysis.
———–
all Eich did was contribute money to a political campaign that was supported by the majority of the state of California, and which supported a conception of marriage that until very recently was held by the majority of Americans, including the current President of the United States.

Sure, PGD @124. And all Jefferson Davis did was organize a vigorous defense of property rights that had recently been held by the majority of Americans.
~

129

Lee A. Arnold 08.07.14 at 3:48 pm

Embarrassment all the way around. The University of Illinois has made a big error. Both Salaita and Nelson should issue public apologies.

Salaita should apologize for being an emotional twitterer. He should also promise to avoid any further attempts at expression at only 140 characters at a time. He is not up to the task.

As should everyone else avoid it. What the hell is wrong with all of you? Just because Twitter exists, you have to twit? Cognition isn’t atomized enough for you already? Why do we have to deal with adults as if they are children?

SALAITA SHOULD GET THE JOB, but he should immediately be fired if he continues to demonstrate that he cannot think clearly.

Nelson should apologize for wearing those horrible ties, but especially apologize for being a craven hypocrite about the effects of a boycott on Israel, and for splitting hairs to defend himself on the subject. I mean the real world usually expects university professors to be unreal idiots, but that story is just pathetic.

You should be having a boycott of Israel in support of making them get it right. You think “mowing the grass” every 5 years is a just, humane, or strategically intelligent policy? Nelson, what in hell is wrong with you? I mean Jesus Christ.

Embarrassments, all the way around.

130

Ronan(rf) 08.07.14 at 4:02 pm

The oracle awakens. ; )

131

J Thomas 08.07.14 at 4:44 pm

You should be having a boycott of Israel in support of making them get it right. You think “mowing the grass” every 5 years is a just, humane, or strategically intelligent policy? Nelson, what in hell is wrong with you?

I have read only two essays he wrote about the issue, but here’s what I hear him say:

1. Israel should withdraw from most of the West Bank and let Palestinians have their own nation. (I agree with that, except that it isn’t an end-point. If Israel did that tomorrow, then day after tomorrow Israel would accuse Palestine of committing acts of war and would invade and re-take the whole thing. So I don’t see it as a solution.)

2. He says that both sides are victims so we shouldn’t blame people. Especially we shouldn’t blame Israelis. They just want to live their lives. There is no just, fair solution. since we can’t make it fair we have to find a solution people can live with. (He means by this that we have to find a solution Israelis can live with.)

3. There can’t be a solution that Israelis and Palestinians can both live with, so there will be war that will continue for at least the rest of Nelson’s life. Israelis will just have to live with that and try to arrange that they can live their lives without too much disruption from it.

4. There are a lot of people who don’t like Israel who want it to go away. This is wrong, Israel deserves to exist because of the Holocaust. They are wrong to blame Israel or Israelis. Israelis are victims who do not deserve blame.

5. Israel deserves to have the 1967 borders but does not deserve to have the West Bank. We should put pressure on both sides to make sure that Palestinians agree they deserve nothing more than “most of” the West Bank, and that Israel gives it to them. But this pressure is there to get that result, not to blame anybody. We don’t want to use pressure that hurts innocent Israelis.

6. Anything that affects Israeli academics, hurts innocent Israelis and disrupts academic freedom. That’s wrong and bad. What we should do to pressure Israel into releasing the West Bank is BDS only against products made in the West Bank. If we refuse to buy anything from the West Bank, that will not hurt innocents, only the bad guys who try to export products from the West Bank. That’s the pressure that Israel needs.

I did not see him say that “mowing the grass” was good. Only that there is no fair solution so there will be war for an indefinite but long time.

I agree that boycotts and sanctions do hurt innocent people. Like, when we wanted to stop Saddam from making poison gas we didn’t let him buy chlorine. So Iraqi cities couldn’t purify their water and a lot of children died of water-born diseases. Usually the argument in favor of sanctions is the same as that in favor of war — if the enemy will just surrender and do the right thing, then all the bad stuff we do to his people will stop. So it’s entirely his fault and not our fault that we are forced to hurt innocents.

Even when we tried to do pinpoint airstrikes on places we thought Saddam was, we wound up killing lots of innocent people and not Saddam. Similarly, when Israel tried to use pinpoint airstrikes to kill Arafat in Lebanon. They’d get a tip that he was at some particular hospital so they’d bomb it, and then they’d get a tip that he was at a school so they’d bomb that, and so on. They kept missing him by minutes. If Arafat had only let them kill him instead of hanging out in places he shouldn’t, they wouldn’t have had to bomb the hospitals and schools so it was all his fault.

I figure that Nelson is a zionist whose heart is in the right place. He wants Israel to set the Palestinians free to have their own nation in most of the West Bank.

And since he’s a Zionist he wants to make sure that innocent Israelis never have to suffer. Regardless what Israel does, they should not suffer bad consequences because they are innocent Israelis who after all have very little influence on the Israeli government. He thinks we should pressure Netanyahu but only in ways that do not affect innocent people.

132

The Temporary Name 08.07.14 at 4:47 pm

Saliata’s speech was much more inflamatory than anything Eich did

Salaita is writing about people dying. Eich was interested in constricting ways in which other people were allowed to be nice to each other – including his own employees – when he wasn’t looking. I’d hope there was a difference in scale there.

133

Dave 08.07.14 at 4:49 pm

Corey, I really think you have this one wrong. Guy resigns before he has his new gig finalized. Guy proceeds to act the a$$hat on the internets. People at new gig decide they don’t want to hire an a$$hat. Pretty simple. Not a test case for some expansion of academic freedom protections. He resigned before he had new gig sewed up. He acted the a$$hat. Some people didn’t feel compelled to hire him. What am I missing?

134

Lee A. Arnold 08.07.14 at 5:52 pm

J Thomas #131: “…there is no fair solution…”

And that is Nelson’s p0orly examined criterion?

135

J Thomas 08.07.14 at 6:48 pm

#133 Lee Arnold

J Thomas #131: “…there is no fair solution…”

And that is Nelson’s p0orly examined criterion?

Here you go.

What happened to Palestinian families in 1948 was unquestionably a tragedy. So too was the Holocaust. There is tragic history on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Americans, however, seem to prefer an absolute oppressor/victim dichotomy. They appear to think either that history is irrelevant and only present-day power differentials matter, or that only one group’s history counts. If you consider the multiple stories that bear on the conflict, it is clear that no perfect solution that compensates for all the relevant violence and injustice is possible.

I think he’s right. With a one-state solution Palestinians will have to live among Israelis who have oppressed them for generations, and those Israelis will be relatively rich and will control most everything, while Palestinians are poor.

With a two-state solution Palestinians will be restricted to a small poor land (stuff that Israel mostly didn’t want the first time around) and live in poverty while Israel next door continues to suck away their water and lives in luxury.

I say they could make it “fair” in three generations with a single nation if Israelis and Palestinians thoroughly intermarried. If one of my great-grandfathers killed another of my great-grandfathers and stole all his possessions, it isn’t unfair to *me*. But currently it is hard for Israelis and Israeli-arabs to marry.

He implies that it would not be fair if Israel went away. (Like to America.) Israel belongs to Israelis because of the Holocaust. So that would not be fair to them.

By his reasoning there is no possible fair solution.

136

PaulB 08.07.14 at 7:11 pm

Why is it anti-semitic to criticize Netanyahu?

It isn’t. Go ahead, he’s a murderer.

It’s also not necessarily racist to speak for states’ rights. It depends how you say it.

137

Jeff R. 08.07.14 at 7:42 pm

@134: Are you claiming that there is a possible fair solution by your reasoning? Because your additional possibilities involve inducing two populations that largely hate one another to throroughly intermarry and breed, and I don’t see any non-incredibly awful way to make that happen, and on the other hand, ethnic cleansing of the Jews from the river to the sea, which, if you actually think that is ‘fair’ you have found a new low for evil opinions expressed over here.

138

roy belmont 08.07.14 at 8:03 pm

Salaita should apologize for being an emotional twitterer
The only thing that can save humanity now is the intervention of heartlessly logical high-function sentient alien neuro-parasites.
Or AI versions of the same. Into the Borg, children, quickly!
Humans, with their fuzzy emotions and sentiments, are way too mushy-gushy to save themselves.

139

Ze Kraggash 08.07.14 at 8:11 pm

“ethnic cleansing of the Jews from the river to the sea”

Hmm. Being downgraded from privileged to equal rights and having to pay compensation for stolen land and property hardly qualifies as ethnic cleansing. Some might even call it ‘justice’.

140

J Thomas 08.07.14 at 8:19 pm

#136

Are you claiming that there is a possible fair solution by your reasoning? Because your additional possibilities involve inducing two populations that largely hate one another to throroughly intermarry and breed, and I don’t see any non-incredibly awful way to make that happen

I have no easy suggestion how to make that happen. I say that if it *did* happen, within a few generations it would be pretty much fair. Like, the USA white/black racism thing would go away if we all miscegenated, but I certainly wouldn’t suggest forcing people to do that.

ethnic cleansing of the Jews from the river to the sea, which, if you actually think that is ‘fair’

I wouldn’t recommend involuntarily “transferring” the Zionist Israeli population even if they were militarily no stronger than the Palestinians. Since they have nukes that is out of the question. If they did agree, it would be a very good thing but I don’t imagine they would agree to leave in the foreseeable future. (For me the foreseeable future has shrunk to something like 4 years, with the possibility of big surprises within that time. Things have gotten kind of unpredictable there.)

For questions of abstract fairness, I don’t see that their mistreatment by Germans gives them a right to land Palestinians were living on. I’d welcome them here — most of them would be an asset to the USA. If they want their own nation I’d be willing to give them one here, say Alabama where I have lived — a green and pleasant land, a trifle hot, about 5 times the size of Israel.

Nobody can make it fair, but if we choose to give them stuff we can make it pretty much fair for them. If we agree to do it then it doesn’t matter that it isn’t fair to us.

It isn’t what most of them want. But then I don’t see that they necessarily deserve to get what they want.

We could offer the same sort of deal to the Palestinians. But we would not do that.

141

SamChevre 08.07.14 at 8:34 pm

I don’t see that their mistreatment by Germans gives them a right to land Palestinians were living on.

That is not an argument that makes sense, practically or historically. Try answering “does their mistreatment and dispossession by their Arab neighbors give them a right to some land that Arabs were living on” . (Remember that the majority of Israelis previously lived in the Middle East, not Europe.)

142

MPAVictoria 08.07.14 at 8:57 pm

If people only having a right to land that their ancestors have lived on sense time immemorial we are going to have a very, very hard time making peace anywhere in the world.

You have to deal with the situation as it is now. Are you really willing to send around trains to forcibly collect millions of Jews and take them somewhere against their will for the second time in less than 80 years?

143

J Thomas 08.07.14 at 9:28 pm

#142

If people only having a right to land that their ancestors have lived on sense time immemorial we are going to have a very, very hard time making peace anywhere in the world

Agreed. Similarly, if we agree that they have a right because their ancestors once lived there, that will prevent peace too.

You have to deal with the situation as it is now. Are you really willing to send around trains to forcibly collect millions of Jews and take them somewhere against their will for the second time in less than 80 years?

No. I sure am not. On the other hand I don’t want my government money spent to help them push around other people who live there.

Sometimes I think maybe when people in one place just won’t get along, that we ought to blockade the area and don’t let people or products in or out until they learn better.

Just for a mental exercise, to reach an Israel/Palestine agreement I’d propose we agree that Israel gets 27,000 square kilometers and Palestine gets 6,200 square kilometers, borders to be determined later.

But before the agreement is complete, every time an Israeli kills a Palestinian, we give 10 square kilometers of Israel to Palestine, and the Palestinians get to choose them anywhere they want. And everytime a Palestinian kills an Israeli, we give 10 square kilometers of Palestine to Israel and the Israelis get to choose it wherever they want.

I imagine that might reduce the death rate considerably.

And if Israel killed 2,700 more Palestinians than Palestinians killed Israelis? Then we evacuate Israel. But more likely the death rate would go way way down and the knee-capping rate would go way way up.

144

Tyrone Slothrop 08.07.14 at 10:13 pm

What Israeli wouldn’t happily quitclaim the land wherein their Abrahamic faith arose for a sturdy plot located within the humid expanse of Alabama—a state well-lauded by the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd? Hell, the two words are almost spelled the same…

145

CJColucci 08.07.14 at 10:15 pm

As long as we’re throwing around fantasy scenarios, how about giving the Israelis (and diaspora Jews who might want to go) Texas? We’d have a friendly power sitting on oil, no beef with the Arabs, and the Jews would civilize Texas.

146

J Thomas 08.07.14 at 10:47 pm

As long as we’re throwing around fantasy scenarios, how about giving the Israelis (and diaspora Jews who might want to go) Texas?

You are welcome to see if your idea gets more traction than mine. Texas is around 25 times as big as Israel, and has nearly 26 million people living there already while Alabama has less than 5 million. Assuming we would give Texas to Israel empty, without a bunch of second-class citizens already living there, that’s about 5.5 times as many we’d need to move out as in Alabama. (Incidentally, Alabama has some competing claims from Choctaw indians in the center west, and Creek in the northeast. There are shrines etc. If Israel let them have their most important sites for their nations, well under 10% of Alabama, I expect they’d be good neighbors. It’s a lot more than we’ve given them.)

I have lived in both Alabama and Texas. Alabamians tend to be down-to-earth, self-effacing, “I’m just a country boy”. If the US government told them we need to give Alabama to Israel, they would hesitate, and ask for the explanations slower, and hesitate some more, and eventually when the deal was completely they would get more land and better land and more money than they were giving up. Meanwhile Alabama has fertile farmland, forests, mineral wealth, a decent port with oil and offshore natural gas, access to the upper Mississippi through the Tenn-Tom canal — it could be quite a prosperous place in the right hands and with enough capital.

Tell Texans that they have to move out of Texas so Israelis can move there, and they might quite likely secede. Then they might invite the Israelis to come join them and consider the best route for the Texas/Israeli army to take to have ports on both oceans, and there would be the question what land they needed to take so they could have defensible borders.

… and the Jews would civilize Texas.

Good luck with that.

147

Donald Johnson 08.07.14 at 10:58 pm

If we’re just getting completely ridiculous here, I too have sometimes fantasized about taking Texas or some other place with a high concentration of Christian Zionists and giving it to the Zionists. One would need a time machine and some way to convince the Woodrow Wilson that a Balfour Declaration awarding a chunk of the US to the Jews as a homeland was no big deal, but after that, things should work out fine. I can’t imagine Texans 100 years ago or so being anything but welcoming, unless you’re a Mexican.

148

Donald Johnson 08.07.14 at 11:00 pm

Actually, that idea (a Texas Balfour declaration) was inspired by someone I know in real life, from Texas, who was sneering at the Palestinians for their pogroms in the 1920’s. Given what the Texans were doing then, the sneering seemed inappropriate.

149

roy belmont 08.07.14 at 11:12 pm

Great use of your time and erudition, Johnson.

150

Lee A. Arnold 08.07.14 at 11:25 pm

J Thomas #135: “By his reasoning there is no possible fair solution.”

And by my reasoning, his reasoning is faulty. Even some of the premises of his that you express here (e.g. that Americans seem to prefer an absolute oppressor/victim dichotomy; that a two-state solution must leave Palestinians in poverty) are not in any way fundamentally true. If you are his lawyer, tell him to jettison this “no fair solution” braincrutch and demand that the Israeli government to get onto another flight path, quick. If it takes a boycott, do it that way.

151

J Thomas 08.07.14 at 11:30 pm

Actually, that idea (a Texas Balfour declaration) was inspired by someone I know in real life, from Texas, who was sneering at the Palestinians for their pogroms in the 1920′s. Given what the Texans were doing then, the sneering seemed inappropriate.

Inappropriate sneering? The Palestinian actions were pretty much ineffective. Can we say as much for the Texan ones?

152

J Thomas 08.07.14 at 11:37 pm

And by my reasoning, his reasoning is faulty. Even some of the premises of his that you express here (e.g. that Americans seem to prefer an absolute oppressor/victim dichotomy; that a two-state solution must leave Palestinians in poverty) are not in any way fundamentally true.

I have to agree with you. Things could happen that no one particularly expects, that could change the whole situation.

Given today, it seems to me almost impossible that Israelis would allow palestinians to prosper. For one thing there’s only so much wealth, water, jobs, etc to go around and whatever Palestinians have is denied to Israelis. For another, many zionists believe that Palestinians are implacably hostile to them. The more wealth you let your enemy have, the more he can use it against you. By this reasoning Israel must keep Palestinians (and arabs in general) in poverty. (Except for oil states that can’t be impoverished without first taking their oil from them.)

But that’s just today. It looks inevitable to me that it will stay that way for a long time, but that’s because I don’t know all that much. Maybe tomorrow something will happen that I can’t imagine that would change those attitudes. In a day. I don’t know enough to say that won’t happen.

It’s hard for me to come up with a plausible scenario where it happens. But that’s just my lack of imagination, that isn’t reality.

153

Lee A. Arnold 08.07.14 at 11:51 pm

International guarantees for Palestinian security and aid for economic development. And do it without shoveling money to Hamas or Fatah. Don’t forget, the state of Israel was an international creation. This isn’t something that accidentally happened. The UN should be on the hook for solving this problem.

154

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 12:06 am

International guarantees for Palestinian security and aid for economic development.

That’s worth trying. Palestine got economic aid back when Israel was agreeing to gradually pull out of the West Bank. But then when Israel invaded and destroyed the computers and the optics labs that made glasses for Palestinians and all that, the europeans who had put something like a billion dollars of aid into Palestine in a pretty short time got upset but there was nothing they could do.

Give Palestinians security that can fight off the Israeli army, and then Palestine can have economic development too.

The UN should be on the hook for solving this problem.

The UN can’t do much over a US veto, right? If the USA is willing to allow the problem to be solved, then maybe there’s hope.

155

MPAVictoria 08.08.14 at 1:50 am

Why not give them Alaska?

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Yiddish_Policemen's_Union

/interesting book

156

MPAVictoria 08.08.14 at 1:54 am

“Give Palestinians security that can fight off the Israeli army”

I have a sad suspicion that a stronger Palestinian military would just use it’s strength to attack Israelis….

157

Donald Johnson 08.08.14 at 3:05 am

I know that’s just your little revenge seeking, Roy, but I had a semi-serious purpose. Americans (particularly Texans) who look down on Palestinians for being violent in the 1920’s ought to think twice about that, given what was happening in the good ole USA in roughly that time period. In Oklahoma in 1921 the local whites also bombed out the black district in Tulsa
link to wikipedia article

It was a massive pogrom, not the term usually used in this country, but that’s what it was, aimed at blacks.

I find this sort of thing useful to think about, whenever some bigot makes a crack about Palestinian violence. So you’re welcome, Roy.

158

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 3:09 am

#156

“Give Palestinians security that can fight off the Israeli army”

I have a sad suspicion that a stronger Palestinian military would just use it’s strength to attack Israelis….

Of course you do. Over here the news is always that Israel is required to retaliate against unprovoked Palestinian attacks. You know, Israel is like the local cop on the beat, and palestinians keep attacking the cop’s truncheon with their heads….

But the topic is a defense organized by an international force, that keeps Palestinians disarmed and responds to Israeli attacks itself. I thought it would be a good thing if Palestinians were allowed to join, and train, and serve some roles under international-force orders.

As it is, when Palestinian security forces have gotten good at suppressing their own people and stopping terrorist attacks, Israel attacked the security forces and damaged them to the point they could no longer suppress their own people.

I don’t know what the Israelis were thinking….

159

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 3:14 am

Americans (particularly Texans) who look down on Palestinians for being violent in the 1920′s….

Ah! I thought they were looking down on Palestinians for being so thoroughly *incompetent* at violence.

Like, if it was Texans fighting to keep invaders from getting control of Texas, there would not be any invaders in positions of authority in Texas afterward.

160

Donald Johnson 08.08.14 at 3:25 am

“I thought they were looking down on Palestinians for being so thoroughly *incompetent* at violence.”

That would make more sense, in its own weird way, but no, that’s not what this person meant.

161

MPAVictoria 08.08.14 at 3:37 am

“But the topic is a defense organized by an international force”

Oh is that the topic?

162

J Thomas 08.08.14 at 3:54 am

“But the topic is a defense organized by an international force”

Oh is that the topic?

Yes, see Lee Arnold #153 that I was responding to. He suggested international guarantees of Palestinian security.

But how can there be an international guarantee without a force ready to fight off the IDF? Without that there is no guarantee at all.

163

ZM 08.08.14 at 4:34 am

Donald Johnson,

“One would need a time machine and some way to convince the Woodrow Wilson that a Balfour Declaration awarding a chunk of the US to the Jews as a homeland was no big deal “

There were proposals to make some sort of a Jewish homeland in Australia and also New Guinea (as well as other places). I do not think the proponents asked the Indigenous people of the areas at all, and the proponents also sometimes thought it a good idea because Jewish settlements in the north would be a defence and a bulwark in the soon to begin WW2 (I think Jewish people would not have liked to settle as bulwarks). But the government decided that Jewish people were aliens and also that they likely would move to the major cities instead of staying in the specified lands, and did not implement most of the various schemes proposed – one in Shepparton, Victoria, did work fairly well for some time.

” Daunted by the seemingly insurmountable political and agricultural obstacles [of settling in Palestine] which confronted Zionist idealists , pragmatists like British novelist Israel Zangwill, head of the Jewish Territorial Organisation, believed that the foundation of a Jewish state in a more hospitable and less-contested part of the world was a more feasible objective.

In the 1930s, a number of organisations and individuals approached the Federal Government about the possibility of settling groups of Jewish refugees in unpopulated or under-populated regions of Australia – partly as a safeguard against the invasion of an unguarded north should hostilities break out

a bid by J H Catts, of Australian Business Services, to establish a Jewish national home in New Guinea (an area, according to Catts, larger than Palestine and having ‘better possibilities’ without the difficulties ‘besetting the Balfour experiment’) failed to find support.

http://guides.naa.gov.au/safe-haven/chapter2/kimberley-scheme.aspx

164

Meredith 08.08.14 at 5:49 am

This is about allowing the arguments here (and elsewhere) to continue (and, one hopes, produce something of value). Write Chancellor Wise!

165

Donald Johnson 08.08.14 at 1:35 pm

“Write Chancellor Wise!”

Agreed. I did already.

166

tab 08.08.14 at 2:26 pm

I echo the general call for freedom of expression. I sent a note to UIC supporting reinstatement.

Entirely separately, Salaita has an online piece with the title: “Dershowitz and Finkelstein: comrades at heart?”

Here’s Salaita’s summing up –

“Ultimately, on the issues that matter most, those fundamental to the cessation of the Zionist colonial project, there is little disagreement between Dershowitz and Finkelstein, certainly none of significance. There is also little to distinguish in their patronizing and pedantic tone with Palestinians.”

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PGD 08.11.14 at 6:06 pm

Sure, PGD @124. And all Jefferson Davis did was organize a vigorous defense of property rights that had recently been held by the majority of Americans.

Your brilliant analogy between the rights of gay people living in San Francisco in 2008 and the rights of enslaved blacks in the antebellum south has certainly helped me see the error of my ways. Don’t you have any shame in making this kind of comparison?

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bensday823 08.13.14 at 6:55 am

As someone who spent over a decade as a centrist democrat before switching parties, I am amazed at how far the level of discourse has fallen.

“This is indeed, a difficult question. After all, all opinions are the same, right?”

Are you really this obtuse?

“1) Condemning Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians citizens.”

The war just ended, and you’ve already concluded that Israel is guilty of war crimes…BRILLIANT!!!!

When did the left become this aggressively stupid? What happened?

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