Steven Salaita Can't Get an Academic Job. He Thinks It's Because He's an Anti-Zionist. It's Because He's an Anti-Semite.

July 26 2017

In 2014, a professor of English named Steven Salaita had a job offer rescinded after a series of anti-Semitic tweets attracted public attention. (They included: “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?” and “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”) Since then, Salaita has held a series of temporary posts, but apparently no one will offer him a tenured or tenure-track appointment, and so he has decided to leave academia.

This means, Jonathan Marks writes, that we

will now be endlessly subjected to the claim that Salaita cannot find a job merely because, as he puts it, he has “disdain for [Zionist] settler colonialism.” The problem is, he says, that academia is a “bourgeois industry that reward self-importance and conformity.”

That is nonsense.

First, Steven Salaita’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—roughly, that Zionism is the problem and that turning Israel into a pariah state is a prudent and moral way of dealing with it—may be foolish and morally obtuse. But it is hardly out of bounds in academia, and well over a thousand academics have expressed public support for the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Many of them occupy tenured positions at prestigious colleges and universities and, at least as far as I can tell, pay no professional cost for holding the very same set of views Salaita wants us to think are too hot for academia to handle.

Second, in the field Salaita inhabits, a pro-BDS position is not a nonconformist position. It is famously the official line of the American Studies Association (ASA). The Association for Asian American Studies, which preceded the ASA in passing a boycott resolution, passed the resolution unanimously with nary an extension. Over four years ago, I observed that not one scholar in that field had publicly dissented. As far as I know, that remains the case today. Salaita himself, in spite of a thin scholarly record, was offered a job at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the flagship of the Illinois system, presumably on the strength of his activism. There is no doubt in my mind that were it not for his disgusting tweets, he would be happily tenured at U of I spouting the same line he was spouting before he got into trouble. . . .

[In sum,] Salaita’s views are not what undid him. He was undone by his own callousness and recklessness, neither of which has he found any reason to regret.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Academia, Israel & Zionism, Politics & Current Affairs


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy