U of I Campus Faculty Association Resist Salaita Persecution

 

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Campus Faculty Association (C.F.A.) has responded to the coordinated viewpoint cleansing and firing of Professor Steven G. Salaita, a tenured associate professor in the American Indian Studies Program. Yesterday, the chancellor and all the university’s top administrators issued coordinated statements to stop the hemorrhaging of the university’s reputation. Namely scholars in the United States and abroad are horrified at the cruel and arbitrary dismissal and firing of Professor Salaita. What I find particularly disturbing is that both Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise and the follow-up letter of President Robert A. Easter and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees Christopher G. Kennedy rhetorically present carefully crafted innuendos in explaining why they would engage in viewpoint cleansing of a tenured faculty member, two weeks before his appointment would begin and ten months after he returned his contract.

They do not state specifically, or it should be assumed, university counsel won’t state directly that Professor Salaita was fired for his humanistic but provocative response to the mass killings of civilians in Gaza. They merely suggest that his tweets were not civil and contained statements unsuitable for polite discourse. This is mere obfuscation of the real reason: the professor criticised a foreign country, a nuclear power that was blasting away at a trapped civilian population in Gaza. One does not have to concur with his analysis or hyperbolic language, but to destroy his career possibly and render him without income for his antiwar advocacy and compassion for innocent victims of war are reflective of a lack of ethical humanism. One would hope that Chancellor Wise and other officers of the university respect diversity of viewpoints even if it contravenes the ideology of the powerful. Such toleration of both rhetorical flourishes and substantive analysis must prevail in a democratic society and especially on a campus of the stature of the University of Illinois .

Again, it was probably those University of Illinois lawyers who urged that inferences not directness prevail in this assault on shared governance in determining the composition of the professoriate. Lawyers in all likelihood suggested they not charge directly that Salaita would fail students with whom he disagrees or might offend the delicate sensibilities of students who might not embrace every idea and opinion that is enunciated in class. Yet pusillanimous inferences and innuendos were clearly intended to damage the reputation of Professor Salaita and exculpate his viewpoint-cleansing oppressors. This egregious violation of academic freedom, due process, free speech, and professional treatment of an appointed colleague to the faculty cannot stand and should be construed as a salvo against free-thinking faculty.

This is the C.F.A. statement and I am honoured to be linked to a blog post. It is their courage, however, and their risk taking under this oppressive academic environment that should be lauded as they resist the illegitimate actions of the senior administrative officers of their university. They are not alone!

CHANCELLOR DECREES FACULTY AT ILLINOIS ARE SUBJECT TO CIVILITY TEST; TRUSTEES BACK HER TO THE HILT

Chancellor Wise broke her long silence on the Salaita case by launching a frontal assault on academic freedom and shared governance. Her campus massmail of August 22 seems perfectly reasonable at first reading – this campus is generally a friendly and cordial place, and who would want to change that? – but what she actually asserts is alarming:

“What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.”

Universities exist in order to investigate, challenge, and (when necessary)  “demean and abuse” viewpoints. But the Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will not tolerate the utterance of words that demean “viewpoints” if, in her sole judgment, those words are “personal and disrespectful.” We are presumably now forbidden, for example, from bluntly disparaging the viewpoints of creationism or homophobia on this campus.

This newly-invented civility test has been applied so far only to Steven Salaita, yet we must assume the Chancellor intends for all faculty and staff to be bound by her decree. Further, her treatment of Salaita demonstrates that she sees no need for due process in such cases. Salaita was fired without the Chancellor even informing the director of the American Indian Studies Program in which he was to teach. The Chancellor seems to regard shared governance as an irritation to be discarded when convenient.

The Chancellor’s statement is troubling also for non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty, who have little enough job security as it is, what with the administration refusing so far even to recognize their new union (CFA Local 6546). On the Chicago campus, faculty are protected by their union contract from the whims of administrators. But here, NTT faculty in particular now have to look over their shoulders and worry about their social media posts – for the Chancellor might decide that some future student could be uncomfortable about comments made in the faculty member’s personal life.

The follow-up statement by the Board of Trustees and President Easter supporting the Chancellor (August 22) is just as bad. They say “we must constantly reinforce our expectation of a university community that values civility as much as scholarship.” Civility is pleasant enough, to be sure, but scholarship justifies the university’s existence. To rank the two as equally important betrays a sophomoric understanding of the institution that the Trustees and the President purport to lead.

For more extended analysis and skewering of the Chancellor and Trustees’ statements, we recommend the blog post by Peter Kirstein here, and here (second link added) the Academe Blog posts by John K. Wilson here and here.

Contact us now at <campusfacultyassoc@gmail.com> to join the movement for a tenure-stream faculty union – and restore power to the faculty.

 – Campus Faculty Association Executive Committee

contact: kirstein@sxu.edu I chair the American Association of University Professors Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure that issued the first comprehensive statement on this matter.

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Piling On: Wise Firing of Salaita Backed by Administration {Updated}

I think it reasonable to assume that the August 1 letter that University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise sent to Steven Salaita was vetted by the executive committee of the board of trustees or the president or some combination. It is almost certain that Chancellor Wise’s firing of Steven Salaita for tweets during the time of significant civilian casualties in Gaza was not a unilateral decision, but was either mandated by or was in consultation with senior administrators and board membees. That is generally how it works.

I think it is revelatory that the purpose of this statement is to support Chancellor Wise and buttress her declining reputation as chancellor, despite her assault on the basic premises of the tenure system and academic freedom. It is clear their letter, with not one dissenter, is defencive in nature–a circling of the wagons, as it were, to defend their collective authority to engage in viewpoint cleansing at the University of Illinois campus.

It is obvious this was a staged, choreographed roll out of oppression. First the chancellor’s letter to the faculty, then the follow-on letter from the president, board chair and other viewpoint-cleansing collaborators. Their claim that they are the great defenders of students rings hollow since students are also victimized. The purpose of higher education is the search for the truth. If the truth is defined through heavy handed, brutal administrative diktat, then students will receive an education shorn of critical thinking, much less exposure to antiwar protest of civilian bombardment in one of the world’s most significant areas: the Middle East. In this specific case, students are denied a pedagogy that apparently outside pressure groups and Israel-lobby partisans were determined to suppress.

Other victims are colleagues in the American Indian Studies Program who exercised due diligence in conducting a national search and submitting the appointment recommendation to the administration. They have courageously voted no confidence in the chancellor’s capacity to carry out her duties. Additional casualties of viewpoint cleansing are the tenure system, academic freedom and, in particular, American Association of University Professors (AAUP) guidelines that UIUC claims as its basic principles. So they say. Actions speak louder than printed statements in statutes and enclosures of iconic AAUP documents with contract offers.

Here is the full statement from President Robert A. Easter, Board Chairperson Christopher G. Kennedy and other University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign officials as published in the News-Gazette of Urbana-Champaign:

Earlier today, you received a thoughtful statement from Chancellor Phyllis Wise regarding the university’s decision not to recommend Prof. Steven Salaita for a tenured faculty position on the Urbana-Champaign campus.

In her statement, Chancellor Wise reaffirmed her commitment to academic freedom and to fostering an environment that encourages diverging opinions, robust debate and challenging conventional norms. Those principles have been at the heart of the university’s mission for nearly 150 years, and have fueled its rise as a world leader in education and innovation.

But, as she noted, our excellence is also rooted in another guiding principle that is just as fundamental. Our campuses must be safe harbors where students and faculty from all backgrounds and cultures feel valued, respected and comfortable expressing their views.

We agree, and write today to add our collective and unwavering support of Chancellor Wise and her philosophy of academic freedom and free speech tempered in respect for human rights – these are the same core values which have guided this institution since its founding.

In the end, the University of Illinois will never be measured simply by the number of world-changing engineers, thoughtful philosophers or great artists we produce. We also have a responsibility to develop productive citizens of our democracy. As a nation, we are only as strong as the next generation of participants in the public sphere. The University of Illinois must shape men and women who will contribute as citizens in a diverse and multi-cultural democracy.

To succeed in this mission, we must constantly reinforce our expectation of a university community that values civility as much as scholarship.

Disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice is not an acceptable form of civil argument if we wish to ensure that students, faculty and staff are comfortable in a place of scholarship and education. If we educate a generation of students to believe otherwise, we will have jeopardized the very system that so many have made such great sacrifices to defend.

There can be no place for that in our democracy, and therefore, there will be no place for it in our university.

Chancellor Wise is an outstanding administrator, leader and teacher. Her academic career has been built on her commitment to promoting academic freedom and creating a welcoming environment for students and faculty alike. We stand with her today and will be with her tomorrow as she devotes her considerable talent and energy to serving our students, our faculty and staff, and our society.

We look forward to working closely with Chancellor Wise and all of you to ensure that our university is recognized both for its commitment to academic freedom and as a national model of leading-edge scholarship framed in respect and courtesy.

Sincerely,

Christopher G. Kennedy, Chair, University of Illinois Board of Trustees

Robert A. Easter, President

Hannah Cave, Trustee

Ricardo Estrada, Trustee

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Trustee

Lucas N. Frye, Trustee

Karen Hasara, Trustee

Patricia Brown Holmes, Trustee

Timothy N. Koritz, Trustee

Danielle M. Leibowitz, Trustee

Edward L. McMillan, Trustee

James D. Montgomery, Trustee

Pamela B. Strobel, Trustee

Paula Allen-Meares, Chancellor, Chicago campus, and Vice President, University of Illinois:

Susan J. Koch, Chancellor, Springfield campus, and Vice President, University of Illinois

Donald A. Chambers, Professor of Physiology and Biochemistry; Chair, University Senates Conference

Jerry Bauman, Interim Vice President for Health Affairs

Thomas R. Bearrows, University Counsel

Thomas P. Hardy, Executive Director for University Relations

Susan M. Kies, Secretary of the Board of Trustees and the University

Walter K. Knorr, VP/Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller

Christophe Pierre, Vice President for Academic Affairs

Lawrence B. Schook, Vice President for Research

Lester H. McKeever, Jr., Treasurer, Board of Trustees

contact: kirstein@sxu.edu  I chair the American Association of University Professors Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure that issued the first comprehensive statement on this matter.

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Chancellor Wise “Defends” Decision to Fire Salaita {Update}

 

Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  has just released this statement on the blacklisting of Dr. Steven Salaita for tweeting against Israeli military actions in Gaza. It comes after these preambular comments on this outrage and cruelty toward a faculty member. While she denies this is viewpoint discrimination, the facts are clearly otherwise. We have seen this before. In the Finkelstein case, it was the case of violating Vincentian values in writing books that upset readers and other academics. Here we have a similar accusation based on tweets that Dr. Salaita does not tolerate disparate views. What evidence is there that he is intolerant of different opinions?

As with the Finkelstein tenure travesty, outside groups and individuals pressured a university to destroy a career of an academic due to viewpoint discrimination on the Middle East. This is the state of play in Illinois and elsewhere. It is a state of play that must be resisted in order to preserve a century of tenure in this country and the academic freedom that buttresses it. Without it, we will devolve into an academic community without passion, risk taking and inspiring our students in search of the truth. It is our students whom we serve: not powerful interests that wish to replace the independent professoriate with a consensus ideology to preserve a monolithic narrative none dare challenge!

The chancellor then alleges that students in Dr. Salaita’s classes would be discriminated against or even more libelous, abused:

“A Jewish student, a Palestinian student, or any student of any faith or background must feel confident that personal views can be expressed and that philosophical disagreements with a faculty member can be debated in a civil, thoughtful and mutually respectful manner.”

Illinois AAUP Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, that I chair, was very clear that an institution must not draw inferences about quality of teaching based on extramural utterances. Chancellor Wise has done that in a gratuitous, indefensible manner that is vindictive and discriminatory against those very viewpoints she claims are not being purged from the university. This is an excerpt from Illinois Committee A on the unacceptable linking of extramural utterances with classroom teaching:

[I]n the AAUP 1964 Committee A Statement on Extramural Utterances it states in reference to the 1940 Statement:

[An] administration may file charges in accordance with procedures outlined in the Statement if it feels that a faculty member has failed to observe the above admonitions and believes that the professor’s extramural utterances raise grave doubts concerning the professor’s fitness for continuing service…

Furthermore, there is nothing in the Salaita statements about Israel or Zionism that would raise questions about his fitness to teach. These statements were not made in front of students, are not related to a course that is being taught, and do not reflect in any manner his quality of teaching. What one says out of class rarely, in the absence of peer review of teaching, confirms how one teaches. Passion about a topic even if emotionally expressed through social network does not allow one to draw inferences about teaching that could possibly rise to the voiding or reversal of a job appointment.

One must not conjecture about a link between extramural statements and the quality of classroom teaching, absent an unmistakable link that would raise issues of competence. None exist here. Indeed, we affirm that fitness to teach can be enhanced with conviction, commitment and an engagement with the outside world.

CHANCELLOR WISE’S STATEMENT Received on August 22, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

As you may be aware, Vice President Christophe Pierre and I wrote to Prof. Steven Salaita on Aug. 1, informing him of the university’s decision not to recommend further action by the Board of Trustees concerning his potential appointment to the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.Since this decision, many of you have expressed your concern about its potential impact on academic freedom. I want to assure you in the strongest possible terms that all of us – my administration, the university administration and I – absolutely are committed to this bedrock principle. I began my career as a scientist challenging accepted ideas and pre-conceived notions, and I have continued during my career to invite and encourage such debates in all aspects of university life.

A pre-eminent university must always be a home for difficult discussions and for the teaching of diverse ideas. One of our core missions is to welcome and encourage differing perspectives. Robust – and even intense and provocative – debate and disagreement are deeply valued and critical to the success of our university.

As a university community, we also are committed to creating a welcoming environment for faculty and students alike to explore the most difficult, contentious and complex issues facing our society today. Our Inclusive Illinois initiative is based on the premise that education is a process that starts with our collective willingness to search for answers together – learning from each other in a respectful way that supports a diversity of worldviews, histories and cultural knowledge.

The decision regarding Prof. Salaita was not influenced in any way by his positions on the conflict in the Middle East nor his criticism of Israel. Our university is home to a wide diversity of opinions on issues of politics and foreign policy. Some of our faculty are critical of Israel, while others are strong supporters. These debates make us stronger as an institution and force advocates of all viewpoints to confront the arguments and perspectives offered by others. We are a university built on precisely this type of dialogue, discourse and debate.

 

What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them. We have a particular duty to our students to ensure that they live in a community of scholarship that challenges their assumptions about the world but that also respects their rights as individuals.

As chancellor, it is my responsibility to ensure that all perspectives are welcome and that our discourse, regardless of subject matter or viewpoint, allows new concepts and differing points of view to be discussed in and outside the classroom in a scholarly, civil and productive manner.

 

A Jewish student, a Palestinian student, or any student of any faith or background must feel confident that personal views can be expressed and that philosophical disagreements with a faculty member can be debated in a civil, thoughtful and mutually respectful manner. Most important, every student must know that every instructor recognizes and values that student as a human being. If we have lost that, we have lost much more than our standing as a world-class institution of higher education.

As a member of the faculty, I firmly believe that a tenured faculty position at the University of Illinois is a tremendous honor and a unique privilege. Tenure also brings with it a heavy responsibility to continue the traditions of scholarship and civility upon which our university is built.

 

I am committed to working closely with you to identify how the campus administration can support our collective duty to inspire and facilitate thoughtful consideration of diverse opinions and discourse on challenging issues.

 

Sincerely,

Phyllis M. Wise
Chancellor

contact: kirstein@sxu.edu  I chair the American Association of University Professors Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure that issued the first comprehensive statement on this matter.

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Stanford’s Palumbo-Liu Quotes Illinois AAUP in Salaita Aljazeera Article

The University of Illinois has a clearly articulated policy that is quoted in Aljazeera:

The University of Illinois Statutes (Article IX, Section 3.a.) provide that only the Board of Trustees has the authority to make formal appointments to the academic staff.  New academic staff members will receive a formal Notification of Appointment from the Board once the hiring unit has received back from the candidate all required documents, so the appointment can be processed. {Emphasis added}

So basically the Board does housekeeping and because it frequently meets AFTER an initial appointment has already commenced, it merely affirms that paperwork is in order. It was the News-Gazette that initially released these documents that are referred to in the article. The Chicago Tribune’s Jodi Cohen probably was the first national reporter to reference them in her article on the Salaita affair, but it was the scrappy News-Gazette that published them.

I am particularly pleased that Dr. Palumbo-Liu quoted extensively from the first academic organisation statement on this academic freedom travesty: the American Association of University Professor (AAUP) Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure:

For its part, even the AAUP, which opposes the academic boycott favoured by USACBI, has taken an immediate stand against this action, stating Salaita’s academic freedom has been violated. Both the Illinois chapter of the AAUP and the national office of the American Association of University Professors have come to Salaita’s defence:

The Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors supports the honoring of the appointment of Steven G. Salaita in the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Reports that the university has voided a job offer, if accurate, due to tweets on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be a clear violation of Professor Salaita’s academic freedom and an affront to free speech that we enjoy in this country…Professor Salaita’s words while strident and vulgar were an impassioned plea to end the violence currently taking place in the Middle East…Yet the University of Illinois cannot cancel an appointment based upon Twitter statements that are protected speech in the United States of America.

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The Progressive Magazine Quotes Kirstein News-Gazette op-ed

Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive has written an analytic article on the Steven Salaita blacklisting and firing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In it the article contains references to the national American Association of University Professors (AAUP) statement of support as issued by President Rudy Fichtenbaum and First Vice President and Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure Chair Henry Reichman, as well my comments in an op-ed in the News-Gazette of Urbana-Champaign:

On August 19, the chair of the AAUP’s Illinois committee on academic freedom, Peter Kirstein, wrote in the News-Gazette: “Academic freedom requires that both substance and from are protected speech when engaging in extramural utterances.” Kirstein was especially distressed by the way in which the chancellor rescinded Salaita’s job offer.

“In their egregious dismissal letter of Aug. 1, no reason is given why a contract offered ten months ago is voided,” he wrote. “It is unconscionable that an academician would be fired in this manner. . . . The absence of an explanation is one of the worst cases of administration abuse of a faculty member I have ever witnessed.” -

Howard Zinn, my advisor and professor at Boston University, was a frequent contributor to The Progressive. He would frequently mention it as a valuable resource in his classes. It is gratifying to be included in their venerable publication on a matter of such significant public concern.

contact: kirstein@sxu.edu

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Kirstein and Burbules e-mail Exchange: Salaita Op-Eds

Nicholas Burbules

Nick Burbules, co-author of op-ed supporting the firing of Steven Salaita

Professor Nick Burbules of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign e-mailed me this morning. He co-authored an op-ed with Professor Joyce Tolliver in the News-Gazette that supported the firing of tenured Associate Professor Steven G. Salaita. I wrote an op-ed that challenged many of their assumptions and reiterated the position of the Illinois AAUP Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. I posted both of our op-eds for comparative purposes here:

In my preambular introduction to the op-eds, I wrote this sentence:

Joyce Tolliver and Nick Burbules, support the non-appointment of Steven Salaita and even asserted “there is…no evidence” that he was fired for his tweets on the Israel/Palestinian conflict.

Professor Burbules asked me to delete this sentence because he claimed it misrepresented the professors’ position. While he did not respond to two specific offers to post his entire e-mail complaint, Professor Burbules asserts their op-ed does not claim that tweets were unrelated to his contract not being forwarded for Board of Trustees’ approval.

In his e-mail, Professor Burbules claimed Salaita was not “fired” for his “controversial” positions on the Middle East conflict in Gaza. He stated many people share Salaita’s views but the University of Illinois was merely responding to the “tone and expression” that characterised his tweets. It was not his views on Israel and Palestine but the mode of expression.

User Photo

Joyce Tolliver: op-ed co-author that supports firing of Salaita

In their op-ed they wrote:

The first is the frequent assertion that Salaita’s position offer was terminated because of his stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There is, at this point, no evidence that this is the case: Many faculty hold similar views on the Middle East, and no one has suggested that they are not entitled to engage in open debate over this controversy. The real issue is with the form and substance of Salaita’s comments.

In my op-ed I responded:

They claim it is speculative to assert that Professor Steven Salaita was fired due to his comments on the Israel/Palestinian conflict: “There is, at this point, no evidence that this is the case.”

Then they undermine their stunning claim by asserting that “the real issue is with the form and substance of Salaita’s comments.”

Academic freedom requires that both substance and form are protected speech when engaging in extramural utterances. It does not differentiate between the two. It is, in fact, impossible to separate the rhetoric style from the topic. The former gives vitality and expressive force to the latter.

Well, I reiterate my op-ed claim that Salaita was fired for his tweets. They state there is no evidence he was fired for his tweets that contain his “stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

I believe I have fairly presented his concern and my response. The reader is invited to scrutinise both op-eds and determine the validity of our approaches on this epic academic freedom and free-speech case.

contact: kirstein@sxu.edu

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Competing Op-Eds in News Gazette on Salaita Academic Freedom Case

Competing opinions of three professors on the Salaita-firing case at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were published in The News-Gazette of Urbana-Champaign. It is interesting that two professors at the university, Joyce Tolliver and Nick Burbules, support the non-appointment of Steven Salaita and even asserted “there is…no evidence” that he was fired for his tweets on the Israel/Palestinian conflict. I am grateful that the paper allowed my response as the two professors repeatedly refer to the American Association of University Professors Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure statement that was issued in support of academic freedom and countering the rise of the New McCarthyism that grips many campuses in the United States.

It is interesting that the scrappy News-Gazette was the first paper under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to release the Salaita Papers. It is ironic that the University of Illinois apparently includes with each offer of an academic appointment two seminal AAUP documents including the 1940 Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure. The latter, according to our statement, was egregiously violated when tweets were used to bar a professor some ten months after he signed his contract from assuming his promised duties.

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Steven Salaita: photo courtesy of the News-Gazette of Urbana-Champaign

Illinois AAUP defends Salaita’s academic freedom

By Peter N. Kirstein

Professors Joyce Tolliver and Nick Burbules of the University of Illinois in their Sunday, Aug. 17, op-ed, “Salaita case calls for honest debate,” support the firing of tenured Associate Professor Steven G. Salaita. However, as chair of Illinois American Association of University Professors Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, I wish to offer a different viewpoint.

They claim it is speculative to assert that Professor Steven Salaita was fired due to his comments on the Israel/Palestinian conflict: “There is, at this point, no evidence that this is the case.”

Then they undermine their stunning claim by asserting that “the real issue is with the form and substance of Salaita’s comments.”

Academic freedom requires that both substance and form are protected speech when engaging in extramural utterances. It does not differentiate between the two. It is, in fact, impossible to separate the rhetoric style from the topic. The former gives vitality and expressive force to the latter.

The professors might consult the landmark Supreme Court case, Cohen v California (1971). Justice John Marshall Harlan in his majority opinion averred that, “words are often chosen as much for their emotive as their cognitive force. We cannot sanction the view that the Constitution, while solicitous of the cognitive content of individual speech, has little or no regard for that emotive function.”

While the professors twice cite Illinois AAUP Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure report’s description of Salaita’s tweets as “strident and vulgar,” we defended his academic freedom to express himself as bombs were flying into children, U.N. safe houses and mosques in blockaded Gaza. We do not make such a fine distinction as apparently Professors Tolliver and Burbules do between “substance” and “form” when assessing tweets as protected extramural utterances.

Professors Tolliver and Burbules refer to Professor Salaita’s tweets as being characterized as “incendiary and anti-Semitic.” I wonder if they are familiar with the full range of his tweets from 2014. These include:

— It’s a beautiful thing to see our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world deploring #Israel’s brutality in #Gaza. (July 18)

— My stand is fundamentally one of acknowledging and countering the horror of antisemitism. (July 19)

— Equal rights for everybody, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, etc. (July 20)

— I refuse to conceptualize #Israel/#Palestine as Jewish-Arab acrimony. I am in solidarity with many Jews and in disagreement with many Arabs. (July 27)

If there is any ambiguity concerning why Professor Salaita’s appointment was not sent to the board of trustees, the fault lies with Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Vice President for Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre. In their egregious dismissal letter of Aug. 1, no reason is given why a contract offered nine months ago is voided. It is unconscionable that an academician would be fired in this manner. While I believe there are legal grounds for reversal from a promissory estoppel — a promise of appointment — to the suppression of First Amendment rights of free speech, the absence of an explanation is one of the worst cases of administration abuse of a faculty member I have ever witnessed.

Professors Tolliver and Burbules, with a “cri de coeur,” defend administrators from the “familiar frame of faculty victims being silenced by evil administrators.” Certainly AAUP has not used such language. It has, however, used widely accepted documents such as the seminal 1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure that affirms, “When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.”

While the sounds of silence from the University of Illinois remain deafening, only the restoration of Professor Salaita to his appointment in the American Indian Studies Program can restore academic justice to Salaita and his peers that chose him as a colleague.

Peter N. Kirstein, a history professor at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, is vice president of the Illinois Conference of the American Association of University Professors and is chair of the Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

Salaita case calls for honest debate

By Joyce Tolliver and Nick Burbules

The sides are lining up over the University of Illinois’ decision not to seek board of trustees approval for Dr. Steven Salaita’s tenured faculty position. Since neither the university nor Salaita has spoken publicly about the issue, there is much we do not know. The national American Association of University Professors has rightly decided not to take a final position until all the facts are known.

However, the Illinois branch of the AAUP did weigh in, releasing a statement asserting that Salaita’s recent comments, “while strident and vulgar,” were protected by academic freedom and hence that it was not defensible for the university to withhold Salaita’s appointment. The Campus Faculty Association was quick to attack the campus administration’s decision. The faculty union up at UI Chicago has also jumped into the fray, criticizing our campus and calling for a national investigation.

There are two aspects of this public debate that are based on questionable assumptions. The first is the frequent assertion that Salaita’s position offer was terminated because of his stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There is, at this point, no evidence that this is the case: Many faculty hold similar views on the Middle East, and no one has suggested that they are not entitled to engage in open debate over this controversy.

The real issue is with the form and substance of Salaita’s comments. He has made numerous public statements over the summer that are not just “strident and vulgar,” but are, in the view of many people, incendiary and anti-Semitic.

Of greatest concern to an academic community is that many of his comments preclude any possibility of dialogue, disagreement or reasoned examination. This is not what one would expect from a thoughtful, reflective teacher and scholar.

The question is not whether Salaita has a First Amendment right to make such comments — of course he does. It is whether, in light of this new information, the university has the right to choose not to proceed with hiring someone who speaks and writes that way in public.

There is a serious policy question here of how to manage a situation in which new and damaging information comes to light about a prospective hire after an initial letter of offer is sent, but before the beginning of the appointment period and before final board approval.

At Virginia Tech, his previous institution, the university chose to publicly disavow some of his extreme comments, in order to protect its own reputation. And apparently they have made no effort to retain Salaita after he received word that board approval would not be sought for his appointment at Illinois.

The other questionable assumption of the current debate is that the university’s action violates Salaita’s academic freedom. But the principle of academic freedom is not an absolute, open-ended license; the AAUP’s own statement on principles of academic freedom emphasizes that faculty are also bound by the standards of professional ethics: “As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, (and) should show respect for the opinions of others ….” Salaita’s comments raise legitimate questions about the limits of academic freedom.

An honest debate about this case would engage these serious and difficult questions, instead of invoking the familiar frame of faculty victims being silenced by evil administrators. That framing might serve other political agendas, but it does not serve the campus or the wider academic profession well — and it does not fit the facts of this case as we know them, so far.

Nick Burbules and Joyce Tolliver, current members of the UI faculty, are past leaders of the campus academic senate.

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M.L.A. Supports Salaita: Endorses AAUP Position

The Modern Language Association (M.L.A) is one of the largest academic organisations in the world. It consists of teachers of language and literature and has supported Steven Salaita in his struggle for justice, following the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign violation of his academic freedom. Its executive committee sent the following letter to Chancellor Phyllis Wise who refused to submit his appointment for board approval, ten months after Salaita returned a written contract. This is an organisation that resists the New McCarthyism that has gripped American post-secondary education for several decades. It represents a growing awareness in post-secondary education that the right to speak for the oppressed, the downtrodden, the colonised, the occupied without coercion, suppression and blacklisting is worth defending:

Letter to the Chancellor of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The Executive Council approved the letter to Chancellor Wise in August 2014.

15 August 2014

Dear Dr. Wise,

The members of the Modern Language Association’s Executive Council strongly urge you to reconsider your decision to revoke Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment to a tenured position in the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. According to the facts reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education on 7 August 2014 (http://chronicle.com/article/Denial-of-Job-to-Harsh-Critic/148211/) and Inside Higher Ed on 6 August 2014 (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/08/06/u-illinois-apparently-revokes-job-offer-controversial-scholar), your decision seems to abrogate long-established principles of academic due process and to violate the principles of academic freedom of expression to which your university expressly adheres (see art. 10, sec. 2, at http://www.bot.uillinois.edu/statutes). We urge you to submit Professor Salaita’s appointment to the board for confirmation or to allow your university’s Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure to review your decision.

Professor Salaita held a written offer from the university with the common stipulation that final approval of his appointment would be subject to the decision of the university’s board. With the encouragement of the faculty and administration at UIUC—including a written acknowledgment that he had signed your university’s contract—he resigned his tenured position at Virginia Tech and made plans to move his family so that he could begin an appointment with a starting date of 16 August 2014. You informed him in a letter dated 1 August 2014 that his appointment would not be submitted to the board, but your letter did not give a reason. Members of the UIUC faculty with varying positions on this case have observed that the abrupt withdrawal of the offer directly followed publicity over Professor Salaita’s comments on social media about Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

The members of the MLA Executive Council join with the American Association of University Professors, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and many other groups and individuals in viewing the rescinding of Professor Salaita’s offer as a troubling response to his expression of views about a significant and controversial topic. The MLA is on record as believing that “[w]hen academic freedom is curtailed, higher education is compromised,” and the MLA has for years called on “college and university administrators and faculty members to support a culture of academic freedom for all teachers, regardless of rank and status” (http://www.mla.org/academic_freedom_2009). Believing that the right to express unpopular views on important issues in various media is critical to the health of our democratic society and to its institutions of higher education, we call on you to redress what seems an unjustified decision.

Yours sincerely,


Margaret W. Ferguson, MLA president

Roland Greene, MLA first vice president
——————————————————————————————————————————————————-
I have added for the convenience of the reader the relevant Article and section that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign claim within their statutes support academic freedom and tenure. While Emerson wrote: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” in this case consistency is sorely lacking and should be adhered to:
:
Article X Academic Freedom and Tenure

Section 2.              Academic Freedom

a.       It is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage full freedom within the law of inquiry, discourse, teaching, research, and publication and to protect any member of the academic staff against influences, from within or without the University, which would restrict the member’s exercise of these freedoms in the member’s area of scholarly interest.  The right to the protection of the University shall not, however, include any right to the services of the university counsel or the counsel’s assistants in any governmental or judicial proceedings in which the academic freedom of the staff member may be in issue.

b.       As a citizen, a faculty member may exercise the same freedoms as other citizens without institutional censorship or discipline.  A faculty member should be mindful, however, that accuracy, forthrightness, and dignity befit association with the University and a person of learning and that the public may judge that person’s profession and the University by the individual’s conduct and utterances.

c.       If, in the president’s judgment, a faculty member exercises freedom of expression as a citizen and fails to heed the admonitions of Article X, Section 2b, the president may publicly disassociate the Board of Trustees and the University from and express their disapproval of such objectionable expressions.

d.       A staff member who believes that he or she does not enjoy the academic freedom which it is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage shall be entitled to a hearing on written request before the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the appropriate campus senate.  Such hearing shall be conducted in accordance with established rules of procedure.  The committee shall make findings of facts and recommendations to the president and, at its discretion, may make an appropriate report to the senate.  The several committees may from time to time establish their own rules of procedure.

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Jonathan Turley Cites Kirstein Role in Salaita Travesty

Jonathan Turley is J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law; Director of the Environmental Law Advocacy Center; Executive Director, Project for Older Prisoners at George Washington University. He is one of the nation’s leading constitutional lawyers and legal experts. Professor Turley defended Professor Sami Al-Arian with consummate skill for eight years. Dr Al-Arian was persecuted and virtually tortured in terms of gratuitous oppression, job loss and incarceration. Professor Turley has quoted me and reproduced the entire text of the Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure statement in support of Steven Salaita including the names of all the committee members.

This advocate for social justice and for the marginalised has posted an extensive commentary on the Steven Salaita firing fiasco at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On his website, he uses the Latin motto: Res ipsa loquitur (“The thing itself speaks”). Indeed, Professor Turley does speak for the application of the law in a manner that does not ignore justice and the need to restrain the powers of repression and coercion in this country.  I will reproduce some seminal statements of his balanced but clearly strong advocacy for the restoration of Professor Salaita’s position at the University of Illinois. This is the link:

Hundreds of academics have signed a petition demanding that the University reinstate the offer and pledging to boycott the university if the decision stands. They insist that he is being denied academic freedom as well as the freedom of speech outside of his employment. Peter Kirstein, vice president of the Illinois chapter of the American Association of University Professors, called the action “outlandish” and “highly irregular” as well as a violation of “academic freedom, due process.” Likewise, the legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, Baher Azmy called the action “unprecedented and plainly unlawful in violation of the most elementary principles of academic freedom.” She added that “It is quite transparent that they terminated him because they disliked what he was saying about atrocities in Gaza…”

Clearly, the university has a stronger legal claim based on the lack of final approval of the position. However, it has a less compelling basis under academic freedom principles which are the very touchstone of any legitimate academic institution. There are many professor with outspoken pro-Israeli (and sometimes anti-Palestinian) views who are quite outspoken on those who attack Israel. It is part of the diversity of positions that characterize universities. Students and faculty have sharply different views on the subject and a campus is where such views are expressed openly and freely.

Frankly, I find many of the sentiments expressed by Salaita to be highly disturbing. I do not like to see faculty flippantly referring to killings or disappearances even in the heat of a debate or controversy. As academics we are committed to intellectual exchanges and reason, not joking about journalists being stabbed or settlers disappearing.

However, he has also written more substantively on the Israeli issue. I am very troubled by the action taken in this case and the unclear line being drawn over statements made by academics in such disputes. Indeed, one of my greatest concern is that this decision is not being made by the faculty of his department but by the board, which has little academic standing. I have always been critical of the role of such boards which are often composed of simply big donors, celebrities, or well-connected individuals with precious little understanding of the academic mission or academic freedom.

Contact: kirstein@sxu.edu

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Full Text: University of Illinois Letter of Firing to Salaita

The following is typed word-for-word copy from a PDF letter of dismissal from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to Professor Salaita. I have excised some of the letterhead and the addresses at the bottom. Note, no reason is given for such a shattering letter for an academician to receive. Note, not one word of commiseration or affect appears. I wonder what kind of people could write a letter  without demonstrating adequate cause, without allowing due process, without prior to this outrage convening an adversarial hearing before one’s peers. This is simply a cold and calculated effort to purge, due to viewpoint discrimination, a professor for the purpose of stability and academic law and order on the UIUC campus.

As I have written elsewhere, I believe it is highly probative that the Board of Trustees meeting would not have occurred until AFTER Professor Salaita had assumed the full powers and duties of his appointment. It looks like UIUC knew this and took this action in a preemptive and indefensible manner.

Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs

377 Henry Administration Building

506 South Wright Street

Urbana, Il. 61801

Christophe Pierre

Vice President

August 1, 2014

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

Professor Steven Salaita

via e-mail: salaita@vt.edu

A BLACK BOX OF REDACTED MATERIAL APPEARS HERE: PNK

Dept. of English MC 0112

180 Turner Street, NW

Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Dear Professor Salaita,

As you are aware, on October 3, 2013, Brian H, Ross, Interim Dean of the College of  Arts and Sciences, wrote to you to inform you that Professor Jodi Byrd, Acting Director of American Indian Studies, had recommended you for a position on the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As Dean Ross’ letter later stated: “The recommendation for appointments is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.”

We write to inform you that your appointment will not be recommended for submission to the Board of Trustees in September, and we believe that an affirmative Board vote approving your appointment is unlikely. We therefore will not be in a position to appoint you to the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We write to you today so that you would be aware of this fact and would be able to act accordingly.

Thank you for your interest in and consideration of the University of Illinois.

Sincerely,

Christophe Pierre                                                      Phyllis M. Wise

Vice President for Academic Affairs                      Chancellor

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (this appears under “Chancellor” in the letter of termination.)

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Steven Salaita Appointment Included AAUP 1940 Statement

I have seen scanned pdf copies of the actual documents sent to Steven Salaita by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that range from his proffer of an appointment to the egregious notification that the appointment would not be submitted to the Board of Trustees. At this point, I am describing the stunning, hypocritical irony of this viewpoint discrimination case:

One can assume that each professor, upon receiving their written appointment letter at the University of Illinois, receives accompanying AAUP statements that allegedly affirm the university’s commitment to academic freedom. Brian H. Ross, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, included in the appointment letter of October 3, 2013 to Salaita copies of two AAUP documents.

One is the iconic, magna carta of the “higher law” in post-secondary education:                The 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure

The other AAUP document included with the appointment letter was the Statement on Professional Ethics. This statement includes the obligation to search for the truth:

Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure concluded the 1940 Statement was violated when Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment was rescinded based upon tweets that were critical of the Israeli disproportionate response in Gaza to Hamas rocket attacks on some of its cities. We concluded in our report that his academic freedom was violated. This is the specific reference in our widely disseminated statement:

The AAUP 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure states in reference to extramural utterances: “When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.” It affirms that “The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.” While Professor’s Salaita’s tweets are construed as controversial, the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure affirms the virtue of controversial speech. While the Statement refers to classroom teaching, the virtual classroom today has no limits. In 1970 the 1940 Statement was revised with new “Interpretive Comments.”  The second Interpretive Comment would encompass Professor Salaita’s right to be controversial: “The intent of this statement is not to discourage what is “controversial.” Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster.”

Apparently without any sense of shame, the University of Illinois included, as a matter of course, AAUP documents when Professor Salaita received his appointment letter only to arbitrarily violate the same document eight months later and two weeks before Professor Salaita was to begin teaching!

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Wall Street Journal Cites Illinois Committee A Salaita Statement

The Wall Street Journal article cites the statement on the Steven Salaita firing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign of the American Association of University Professors Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. I am chair of the commitee. Subscription maybe necessary. Contact: kirstein@sxu.edu

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Washington Post References, Links ILL AAUP Salaita Statement

As the firing of Associate Professor Steven Salaita becomes one of the most widely covered education stories of the year, the Washington Post has also referenced the Illinois Conference of the AAUP Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

This is the excerpt from the article:

The Illinois chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) posted a statement to its blog defending the professor:

Reports that the university has voided a job offer, if accurate, due to tweets on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be a clear violation of Professor Salaita’s academic freedom and an affront to free speech that we enjoy in this country.

Professor Salaita resigned his position at Virginia Tech and was about to assume his  new appointment at the University of Illinois. We stand by the appointment and by Professor Salaita and defend his right to engage in extramural utterances.

Contact for ILL AAUP: Peter N. Kirstein, kirstein@sxu.edu

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Steven Lubet’s Op-Ed Challenged in Chicago Tribune

Jodi Cohen reported in the Chicago Tribune that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Board of Trustees’ next scheduled meeting is September, 2014. This meeting would be several weeks after the beginning of the fall semester and nine months after Steven Salaita had a signed contract offering him an appointment as a tenured associate professor in the American Indian Studies program at the U. of I. I wonder if Professor Lubet, who wrote an op-ed claiming Salaita had virtually no legal recourse in challenging his firing, was aware of that? I believe his op-ed was submitted prior to the Cohen article. Yet he did not have all the facts.

Understand, Steven Salaita would have begun his semester; he would have met his classes; he would have been assigned an office; he would have possibly attended his American Indian Studies program meetings; he would have begun advising students; he would have assumed the full duties of his appointment. Would the board have the right, under those circumstances, to fire him because of tweets that the Israel Lobby or ardent hawkish supporters of Israel disagreed with? I aver that if a university board meets to confirm appointments after a semester has already begun, it is obvious that rubber stamping appointments is a pro forma ritualistic exercise. I believe that a good lawyer would have a field day with this latest revelation in Cohen’s significant article.

Professor Lubet, a law professor at Northwestern, claimed the American Association of University Professors Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure report misrepresented Professor Salaita’s passion for peace as babies were being slaughtered, United Nations “safe havens” bombed and children blown up on the beaches of Gaza:

A committee of the Illinois AAUP, for example, argued that Salaita had merely made “an impassioned plea to end the violence currently taking place in the Middle East.” This is manifestly untrue. Salaita has not called for an end to violence against Israelis. Quite the contrary, he has reveled in it.

I think Mr Lubet has not familiarised himself with the full scope of Professor Salaita’s tweets. As reported in the esteemed website, Mondoweiss, Salaita’s tweets were taken out of context, perhaps deliberately, by those who wish to deny a public space for the criticism of Israel:

#ISupportGaza because I believe that Jewish and Arab children are equal in the eyes of God. July 23.

@johnellsmar Equal rights for everybody, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, etc. July 20

@mikehesselmial My stand is fundamentally one of acknowledging and countering the horror of antisemitism. July 19

Furthermore, it is humanistic to feel great passion and emotion as innocents are being killed by the Israel Defence Forces. It is also egregious for rocketry to be fired on Israel’s cities. I oppose all war for any purpose, even in the case of self-defence. However, as chair of the Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, I stand by our report and maintain that the legal niceties as presented by Professor Lubet are much more complex and in my non-legal opinion, may possibly conclude with significant litigation and reversal of this outrage.

Contact: Peter N. Kirstein, kirstein@sxu.edu

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Chicago Tribune on Salaita Case and Kirstein, Illinois AAUP Role

Chicago Tribune reporter Jodi S. Cohen

This is a link to the richly sourced Jodi Cohen piece on the Steven Salaita dismissal and firing travesty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am quoted in the article as defending Professor Salaita from the latest auto-da-fé when speaking out on the Israel/Palestine conflict that challenges elite opinion in this country.

From this in depth article, I excerpt Cary Nelson and my “debate” on the limits of academic freedom, if any, in this disturbing situation:

U. of I. English professor Cary Nelson, former president of the American Association of University Professors, said Salaita’s actions are not protected by academic freedom because he has not yet been hired. Instead, he said, he supports the university’s decision that Salaita was “not the right fit for the campus.”

“It was valid for the campus to basically say … we better take another look at this guy,” Nelson said.

“A lot of people have been disturbed by the character of his social media because it is in the same areas that he does his scholarship. If it was a musician saying that global warming is a bunch of nonsense, who would care? It is because the tweets are an extension of his publication, they are central to his work and many feel they cross the line into anti-Semitism,” Nelson said. “The anti-Semitism does (bother me) and what appears to be almost a solicitation of violence.”

Peter Kirstein, vice president of the Illinois chapter of the American Association of University Professors, called the revocation of Salaita’s job “outlandish.”

“This is highly irregular. It is not the way a great university or any university conducts its hiring practices. You have academic freedom, due process,” said Kirstein, chair of the organization’s academic freedom and tenure committee and a history professor at Saint Xavier University.

“He could have been a little more careful in the language he used, but he had the right.”

CONTACT: Peter N. Kirstein, kirstein@sxu.edu

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Richmond Times-Dispatch Cites Kirstein on Salaita Firing at Illinois

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has run the Tonia Moxley piece that previously appeared in the Roanoke Times on the University of Illinois hiring-reversal travesty of Steven Salaita. This is the link to the article.

Professor Salaita resigned a tenured position at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In addition to the national and international coverage of this blacklisting and persecution of the professor, Virginia media has construed it as a local story. Professor Salaita, to his credit, has defied the American exceptionalism narrative before and was known in Virginia as a critical thinker who expressed views that challenged American hauteur with pledges of allegiance prior to even understanding what type of nation demands filial obedience. His questioning the “support the troops” mantra is consistent with internationalism and peace and justice: but not in this country!

For contact information on Illinois AAUP statement and position: kirstein@sxu.edu

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University of Illinois Kaler Remains Mum on Salaita Firing

I tried what others have done with similar lack of success. I asked Robin Kaler, Associate Chancellor, Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to comment on the Professor Steven Salaita contract reversal and dismissal. Before I replicate the email, I concur with her refusal to comment substantively. In my case, and there are many similarities to Salaita, St Xavier University was all over the place trashing my character, saying I had “fallen off the deep end,” putting me on their website as a virtual F.B.I. most wanted person for five to six months and deriding my ethos as “anti-military” (Indeed! I don’t like humans killing others!). Should I be pro-military? I am a veteran and son of an army captain and, yes, anti-military. Is that a crime to hate war and militaries who fight them?

I think Robin is absolutely correct in not commenting on the Salaita apparent firing for disturbing pro-Israeli military supporters of their ruthless actions in Gaza. Although I had to ask her twice for a response, she is clearly acting in a manner consistent with university ethics in terms of release of information. I suspect if there is a settlement, my money is on it, then the two parties, Salaita and UI-UC would issue a joint statement and then neither will discuss it further. However, if Steven Salaita does not get at least three years of salary and benefits, he should walk and go for it in court in a lengthy and highly publicised trial!!

I will have a lot more to say if there is a settlement but I concur totally with Associate Chancellor Kaler. Time will allow, if necessary, other remedies in demanding answers: law suits, AAUP investigation, UIUC Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure investigation.

From: Kirstein, Peter N.
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 1:01 PM
To: Kaler, Robin Neal
Subject: RE: Silence is Golden: Speech is Super Golden

Thanks, Robin:

It is good policy! I wish all practiced it.

Peter

From: Kaler, Robin Neal <rkaler@illinois.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 12:55 PM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
Subject: RE: Silence is Golden: Speech is Super Golden

Dear Prof. Kirstein:

As a matter of University policy and practice, we do not comment publicly upon nor discuss generally any personnel matters, including matters involving employment or tenure.

Warm regards,

Robin Kaler

From: Kirstein, Peter N. [mailto:kirstein@sxu.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 12:52 PM
To: Kaler, Robin Neal
Subject: RE: Silence is Golden: Speech is Super Golden

Is it customary to respond to requests for information? If it is, can you respond, please if you are on the job today and able to do so?

Best regards,

Peter

From: Kirstein, Peter N.
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 9:28 AM
To: rkaler@illinois.edu
Subject: Silence is Golden: Speech is Super Golden

Hi, Robin:

I would be pleased, if honoured, to make any corrections, deletions, mea culpas in this matter if you would clarify any issues concerning the Salaita “affair.”

We have been unable to penetrate the labyrinth of silence. I do feel somewhat uneasy about the role I have played in this but in addition to sending our report to the chancellor, I am clearing my conscience in also asking you for any comment you have on the situation and the AAUP role in it.

You might even ask those above you, whether they are prepared to provide some response to this. We are not on a crusade; we work on principle and seek the truth. I am pretty sure at some point, you will get permission to speak on this matter. I know at some point Steven will: who comes first unless a settlement?

Peace and with all due respect and sincerity,

Peter

Peter N. Kirstein, Ph.D.                                                                                                                               Vice President A.A.U.P. Ill.                                                                                                                     Chair: Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure                                          Professor of History                                                                                                                              Saint Xavier University  Blog/

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Kirstein in Chicago Reader on Salaita Travesty

Deanna Isaacs article on Salaita case at University of Illinois and Illinois AAUP role in supporting his academic freedom in the so-called land of the free, home of the brave! Graphic language within this post is derived from the article in The Chicago Reader. 

Did a controversial tweet cost Steven Salaita his U. of I. professorship?

The AAUP steps into a #controversy sparked by an author and pro-Palestinian activist.

Salaita-teaser-alt.jpg

Do professors have freedom of tweet?

Is it the same thing as freedom of speech?

If they tweet “Fuck you #Israel,” should they have to worry about losing their jobs?

Last week, the American Association of University Professors did something very unusual: it stepped into a situation that was still largely hypothetical, issuing a statement of support for a professor who’s said to have lost a job he hadn’t yet started, apparently because some people didn’t like his tweets.

The professor is Steven Salaita, who had given up his post as associate professor of English at Virginia Tech to take a tenured position as a professor in the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was to have started this week.

The allegedly offending tweets were comments on the current bloodshed in Gaza. Like this one, posted July 20: “Fuck you #Israel. And while I’m at it, fuck you, too, PA, Sisi, Arab monarchs, Obama, UK, EU, Canada, US Senate, corporate media, and ISIS.”

The statement from the national office of the AAUP came on the heels of a similar stand taken a day earlier by the Illinois AAUP’s committee on academic freedom and tenure. The chair of that committee, Saint Xavier University professor Peter Kirstein, said in an interview last week that if reports about what happened to Salaita are correct, it would be “a clear violation of his academic freedom” and “a travesty.”

Neither the university nor Salaita (who didn’t respond to interview requests for this story) is talking about the situation. Most of what’s known about it surfaced in academic trade papers last week, in articles citing unnamed sources.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Salaita got a letter last October from the interim dean of the U. of I.’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offering him the job, pending approval by the board of trustees. Nearly ten months later, as he was preparing to make the move, he got a drastically different letter from the university. Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise and vice president for academic affairs Christophe Pierre wrote to inform him that his appointment would not be presented to the board after all, since, as the Chronicle put it, approval was “unlikely.”

In effect, job offer rescinded.

What happened? According to an August 6 article posted on Inside Higher Ed, “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.”

Salaita, whose scholarship focuses on colonialism, indigenous peoples, and Palestine (he’s been a leader in the BDS movement, which calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel), had been tweeting his anger over the damage Israel was inflicting on Gaza. Those tweets drew the attention of Daily Caller education editor Eric Owens, who on July 21 published a post on the conservative website under the headline “America 2014: University of Illinois Professor Blames Jews for Anti-Semitism.”

Owens characterized Salaita as a “disgusting scumbag” and “world-class Israel hater,” and posted a selection of his tweets as evidence, including this one, posted by Salaita on July 19: “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

The Daily Caller piece, in turn, was cited in an article published in the Champaign-Urbana-based News-Gazette on July 22. It noted that Salaita was scheduled to start work at the U. of I. on August 16 at a salary of $81,000. It also mentioned controversy over an essay he’d published on Salon last fall about the ubiquitous call to “support our troops,” and quoted a few more tweets like this one from July 21: “While Israel bombs children in #Gaza, Zionists are busy trying to get #BDS activists fired.”

When the News-Gazette contacted the university for comment for that story, spokesperson Robin Kaler confirmed that Salaita would be on board as an associate professor, adding “Faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all our employees.”

By last week, when I called Kaler, the university had clammed up. Her e-mailed response: “As a matter of university policy and practice, we do not comment publicly upon nor discuss generally any personnel matters, including matters involving employment or tenure.”

In its statement, the Illinois AAUP committee wrote that it stands by Professor Salaita’s appointment.

“AAUP has a firm position that electronic communication and social networking are protected speech,” Kirstein told me last week. “You’re speaking as a citizen on public issues.” And then there’s the matter of due process, he added: as far as we know, “This man has not been able to defend himself.”

Kirstein added that this is a pattern we’ve seen here in Illinois, “where professors are persecuted and destroyed or have a course taken away or are denied tenure because they take positions which some don’t like with regard to Israel and Palestine.”

At the end of last week, an online petition addressed to Wise in support of Salaita’s appointment was closing in on 11,000 signature

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Kirstein Illinois AAUP Report in Roanoke Times (Salaita Affair)

This is the article in the Roanoke Times on the Steven Salaita firing. Tonia Moxley has covered the Steven Salaita tweets for years and is an authority on his career and struggles against the thought police. She is one of the few reporters to have reached Salaita but he has not commented on the event. He apparently has not tweeted since August 1 which is unfortunate if he has been silenced due to apprehension of his livelihood and pursuit of his profession. It is terrible!

Posted: Friday, August 8, 2014 2:37

A former Virginia Tech English professor who sparked a national debate last year by criticizing the prolific “support the troops” slogan has apparently tweeted himself out of a job at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Steven Salaita, who writes widely on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict both in popular venues such as Salon.comand as an academic author, taught at Tech from 2006 until he recently resigned to take a job at Illinois.

The controversy began when Salaita took to Twitter last month to rail against the Israeli bombardment of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

“Only #Israel can murder around 300 children in the span of a few weeks and insist that it is the victim,” Salaita tweeted.

“If you haven’t recently been called a terror-loving anti-Semite, then I’m sorry to say that your critique of #Israel is totally weak,” read another Salaita tweet.

“#Israel’s message to #Obama and #Kerry: we’ll kill as many Palestinians as we want, when we want. p.s.: [expletive] you, pay me,” Salaita tweeted.

These and other tweets were picked up by pro- and anti-Israeli bloggers, and went viral. Soon after, Salaita’s job offer at the University of Illinois was apparently rescinded.

Salaita had already resigned from Tech, where he had taught in the English department. Tech spokesman Larry Hincker confirmed that Salaita was no longer employed in Blacksburg.

Reached Thursday, Salaita declined to comment on the employment controversy, saying he was unable to give an interview. The University of Illinois has also so far remained silent about the affair.

“As a matter of University policy and practice, we do not comment publicly upon nor discuss generally any personnel matters, including matters involving employment or tenure,” administration spokeswoman Robin Kaler wrote in an email to The Roanoke Times.

But the Illinois chapter of the American Association of University Professors has publicly questioned why Salaita’s job offer was rescinded. The AAUP is a membership and advocacy organization for college and university faculty.

“I don’t approve of everything he wrote,” said Peter Kirstein, vice president of the Illinois AAUP and a history professor at St. Xavier University in Chicago.

“I think you have to be somewhat careful in what you say,” Kirstein added. “But you know this is a country that values free speech and to take away someone’s job because they don’t like what he says about Israel. It’s outrageous; it’s disgusting.”

The national AAUP issued a statement signed by President Rudy Fichtenbaum and Hank Reichman, first vice-president and chair of the AAUP’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure. It reads, in part: It “is not certain whether the job offer had already been made in writing when Professor Salaita was informed that he would not be hired and hence whether or not Salaita could be considered to have already acquired the rights accruing to a faculty member at Illinois.”

However, if he did have a contract with the university, “there is good reason to fear that Professor Salaita’s academic freedom and possibly that of the Illinois faculty members who recommended hiring him have been violated,” the statement continued.

Kirstein said that Salaita’s comments came during a military action, when heated rhetoric and knee-jerk reactions are common. But, he also suggested that the University of Illinois, after first defending Salaita’s right to his opinions may have come under political pressure.

“You had pro-Israel groups calling him an anti-Semite,” Kirstein said. “It happens all the time in this country around the Israel-Palestinian matter. Clearly there was public pressure on the university by pro-Israeli sources.”

“You don’t have to like his language,” Kirstein said of Salaita’s comments, some of which were laced with obscenities. “I believe he should have exercised better judgement …. But you have rights. And that’s the issue here. He has rights.”

On Friday, the trade journal Inside Higher Ed published a defense of the University of Illinois action written by longtime Illinois professor Cary Nelson. Nelson is also a former AAUP president.

“A decision not to present the appointment to the Board of Trustees was made by the chancellor,” Nelson wrote. It is “my understanding is that he had not received a contract,” and therefore did not have a right to a due process hearing before his appointment was rescinded.

“While universities need to study all positions on an issue, even the most outrageous ones, I see no good reason to offer a permanent faculty position to someone whose discourse crosses the line into anti-Semitism,” Nelson wrote.

Nelson also broached concern about Salaita’s tolerance for students whose views might differ from his own.

“Will Jewish students in his classes feel comfortable after they read [one of Salaita's July 8 tweets]: ‘Let’s cut to the chase: If you’re defending Israel right now you’re an awful human being,’” Nelson wrote.

Nelson also commented that he believed the university’s decision was not political because the Illinois faculty includes many who criticize Israeli policy and military actions.

Salaita’s Twitter feed has been inactive since Aug. 1.

He was set to start teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Aug. 16, according to The (Ill.) News Gazette.

The News Gazette reported last month that Salaita was to be a tenured professor teaching American Indian Studies. His salary was reported as $81,000.

In that report, Kaler was quoted as defending Salaita’s Twitter comments: “Faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees.”

But soon the university stopped commenting on Salaita.

This is the not the first time Salaita has been at the center of a political controversy. Last year he published aSalon.com commentary titled “No thanks: Stop saying ‘Support the Troops.’”

That commentary criticized the ubiquitous “support the troops” meme as a barrier to questioning of American foreign policy and treatment of returning war veterans. It caused a social media firestorm that pulled in Virginia Tech, too. Opponents called for the university to censure or fire Salaita, and the professor received death threats that were handled by Tech police, officials said at the time.

Hincker, the Tech spokesman, defended Salaita’s right to publicly express his opinion in that case, and said the university would defend his rights. But Hincker distanced the administration from Salaita’s statements, saying Tech was pro-military and pro-veterans, and that officials disagreed with the professor’s opinions. That stance caused some Tech faculty to call for stronger university support for Salaita.

Salaita is the son of immigrants from Nicaragua and Jordan. He was born in Bluefield, WVa., and raised in Bluefield, Va., and is a graduate of Radford University.

Over his academic career, Salaita has published six scholarly books that examine Middle East politics, Arab-American literature and culture and American treatment of Arab-Americans. His most recent book, a critique of Zionism titled “Israel’s Dead Soul,” was published in 2011.

Salaita is an outspoken supporter of the U.S. Campaign for the Ac

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Cary Nelson, Salaita and Speaking for AAUP

Cary Nelson and I are friends but have significant disagreement on the academic freedom limits of opposition to Israeli policy and military action related to Palestine. We disagree on the Salaita case since I wrote with Committee A (Illinois) on Academic Freedom and Tenure approval the first academic response to the egregious University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign firing of Steven Salaita.

He was quoted in an Inside Higher Ed piece on the Salaita case that broke the story in approving the firing of Steven Salaita for provocative tweets on Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Professor Nelson is the past president of the American Association of University Professors and my first thought was, “Who is he? He does not speak for the association.” Yet he does not claim to do so. He was identified accurately in the piece as “a longtime English professor at Illinois and a past president of the American Association of University Professors.” Dr Nelson does not claim to speak for anyone but himself.

While the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure contains an unnecessary and archaic burden, that professors “should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution,” it does not require such unnecessary disclaimers from A.A.U.P. members. While the initial story might have included opinion that opposed the Salaita firing, Nelson was merely responding, as he had every right, to a request for his viewpoint on the limits of academic freedom as it pertains to electronic, extramural communication. His association with the University of Illinois also contributed I am sure to his inclusion in the story.

The solid and useful A.A.U.P. statement that followed the Illinois Committee A rapid response to this mean spirited if not vicious blacklisting of Professor Salaita, appropriately distanced itself from the Nelson position and A.A.U.P. should be lauded for such a stance. Yet it stated that Cary does not speak for the A.A.U.P.:

We feel it necessary to comment on this case not only because it involves principles that A.A.U.P. has long defended, but also because Cary Nelson, a former president of the Association and a current member of our Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, is quoted as approving the Illinois Chancellor’s action. Professor Nelson is entitled to his opinions. Indeed, one of A.A.U.P.’s great strengths is our ability to bring together many differing viewpoints and ideas, including about the meaning of academic freedom. However, we wish to make clear that Professor Nelson’s comments do not reflect an official position of A.A.U.P. or of its Committee A.

I am not sure why A.A.U.P. felt it necessary “to make clear” that Dr Nelson was not speaking for the association. Admittedly his public position on Israel, opposition to BDS and support of firing Salaita certainly afforded him significant public space on this issue. I would prefer that Cary be challenged, vigorously so, as I have done but without suggesting that he has assumed a status within A.AU.P. that exaggerates his authority or position. Again, he has not.

Having said that, I am pleased that the current officers, Rudy Fichtenbaum and Hank Reichman are more zealous in tolerating disparate views on the Israel/Palestine conflict than we have seen under prior A.A.U.P. presidents. In addition, while both the Nelson and Fichtenbaum administrations opposed academic boycotts of Israel, I think the association has demonstrated greater vigilance, than during the Nelson presidency, to avoid demonizing or coercing faculty members or organisations that support the boycott of Israel. The intent behind the boycotts is noble to end the apartheid and ethnic cleansing that has prevailed for almost seventy years. The practice of boycotts does divide and lend itself to violations of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. Yes I do express my views and defend the rights of others to do so as well.

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Prior Salaita Battles at Virginia Tech Against Thought Police

Need we parrot this mantra to keep our jobs and “defend” our freedoms?

 

Professor Steven Salaita prior to his egregious termination at the University of Illinois, was frequently subjected to public outrage for his daring rhetoric in challenging American imperialism and ethnic cleansing. Similar to my own experiences in failing to be sufficiently patriotic: support the troops, pro-military, pro-war; pro-empire; pro-Zionist etc.

The Roanoke Times, in one of the loveliest regions of the country where Hollins, Washington and Lee. and Virginia Tech are located, has frequently covered Professor Salaita’s battles against the censors. Tonia Moxley, a reporter for the Virginia paper, Roanoke Times, was interviewing me on the Salaita firing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the middle of our interview, she received a tweet from Salaita, claiming he was under a gag order She read it to me as we were talking on the phone. Yes, it is ironic that a reporter makes news in this manner!

After our conversation, I searched her prior articles on Professor Salaita and I am linking a very interesting piece here. She is obviously a very skilled and objective reporter. I find it interesting that Professor Salaita is the son of immigrants. His mother is from Nicaragua and father is from Jordan. He was born in Bluefield, West Virginia and raised in Bluefield, Virginia. How often does that occur? He graduated from Radford University, an institution that has several faculty I have known since either graduate school or previously at St. Xavier. His prolific scholarly oeuvre is well-known and need not be summarised here.

Professor Salaita is correct in debunking the notion of “supporting the troops.” I have frequently stated that such a slogan is nothing more than a diversion from the horror and  bestiality of war. By personalizing war, not with the murdered or wounded, but with the sacrifice and heroism of our troops, it makes it more difficult to oppose the actions of humans killing others. That is what war is: the human species turning on itself and killing its members. That is why Professor Salaita is apparently out of a job: for opposing THAT in Gaza!

Remember, our troops are not fighting for our freedom or liberty but for the imperial and financial gluttony of the ruling elites who benefit from war. Troops are not sacrificing themselves for your freedoms or mine, but for the shareholders of Boeing, the shareholders of ExxonMobil and the global ambitions of the hyperpower in the United States. Our troops are pawns in the game of imperial detritus and merit our empathy, and understanding but not idolatry. To think that a person with his ethos and passion for social justice and anti-discriminatory practices would be subjected to endless abuse and discrimination, is sad commentary on the fragility of freedoms ranging from free speech to academic freedom that we allegedly proclaim in the United States.

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CNN Cites Illinois AAUP Committee A Report on Salaita Case

CNN has cited Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure report on the Salaita case.  Peter N. Kirstein is the committee’s  chair and contact person for any information concerning our report. kirstein@sxu.edu

(CNN) – A pro-Palestinian college professor’s tenure offer at the University of Illinois was allegedly rescinded after he made anti-Israel tweets about the war in Gaza.

Dr. Steven Salaita’s case “is sort of unprecedented in a way,” said Baher Azmy, the legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights. The organization’s legal team has advised Salaita as they consider potential legal avenues.In October 2013, the university offered Salaita a tenured position in the American Indian Studies program, which Salaita accepted, according to Azmy. But on August 1, 2014, Salaita received a letter from Chancellor Dr. Phyllis Wise terminating the appointment.

By then, Azmy said, Salaita had resigned from his tenured position at Virginia Tech, rented his home in Virginia and was preparing to move his family to Illinois.

Virginia Tech Department Chair Joseph Eska confirmed Salaita had resigned and would not be returning in the fall. According to University of Illinois protocol, once an offer is made, the chancellor’s office must make a recommendation to the board of trustees for final authorization. Azmy said Wise rescinded the offer before it went to the board. Azmy said he believes the reason was Salaita’s “political expressions” in social media.

Salaita’s Twitter feed includes messages like “#Israel’s message to #Obama and #Kerry: we’ll kill as many Palestinians as we want, when we want. p.s.: f— you, pay me. #Gaza”Another post reads, “Only #Israel can murder around 300 children in the span of a few weeks and insist that it is the victim. #Gaza #GazaUnderAttack”

University spokeswoman Robin Neal Kaler said, “As a matter of university policy and practice, we do not comment publicly upon nor discuss generally any personnel matters, including matters involving employment or tenure.” In an open letter sent to Wise, Azmy cites “viewpoint discrimination” as the reason for the dismissal, calling it a “serious First Amendment violation.”

“He resigned from a job that gave him tenure, the pinnacle of academic achievement, with the expectation that he would have tenure at the next university and it was taken away in an unlawfully retaliatory way for his political views,” Azmy said.

CNN was not able to reach Salaita but spoke to his wife, who declined to comment other than to confirm her husband had been consulting with Azmy. CNN also was unable to reach Wise for comment. Neal Kaler did not clarify why last month she defended Salaita’s right to tweet his views during an interview with The News-Gazette, a local newspaper. She said then, “Faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom of speech rights of all of our employees.”

Salaita’s controversial views were no secret at the time the university made him an offer. He is the author of six books, including “Israel’s Dead Soul” and the “Anti-Arab Racism in the USA.” Salaita’s opinions, Azmy said, constitute the basis for his scholarly research, which was the reason he was offered the position to begin with.

Salaita believed the principles of academic freedom “would permit him to share his views without fear of censure or reprisal,” said Azmy. Wise’s move to block the appointment has drawn criticism and support. Cary Nelson, a longtime English professor at the university and a past president of the American Association of University Professors, supported Wise. He said, “I believe the decision not to offer him a job was the right one.” “I find many of his tweets quite loathsome —as well as sophomoric and irresponsible,” he said, adding that “while universities need to study all positions on an issue, even the most outrageous ones, I see no good reason to offer a permanent faculty position to someone whose discourse crosses the line into anti-Semitism.” Nelson has written on the topic of academic freedom in the past. In an essay posted on his website, he said academic freedom “is the principle that guarantees faculty members the right to speak and write as they please without interference from the university, the state, or the public.”

The Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors released a statement supporting Salaita.

“Professor Salaita’s words while strident and vulgar were an impassioned plea to end the violence currently taking place in the Middle East,” the statement read. “The University of Illinois cannot cancel an appointment based upon Twitter statements that are protected speech in the United States of America….”

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Salaita Case as a Warning for Prospective Hires

Not so fast University of Illinois!!

While the apparent firing or refusal to honour a contract based on tweets appears to be the crux of the travesty in the University of Illinois dismissal of Professor Steven Salaita, this should be a warning to others in search of employment within post-secondary education. Know your rights!

The American Association of University Professors’ (A.A.U.P.) document The Ethics of Recruitment and Faculty Appointments should be required reading for anyone seeking a job within the professoriate.

First: An oral offer means nothing unless it is in writing. Don’t rely on handshakes or other informal modalities until you receive a written contract “signed by the responsible institutional officer.” That would probably be a provost, president or academic vice president. It appears Professor Salaita did receive a contract and possibly last October.

Second: You are entitled to a written job offer within ten days of the phone call or even e-mail informing one of a successful job search. Ten days! That gives the university time to rescind or cancel the job offer. Sometimes budgets prohibit but dear reader, the university has ten days to withdraw a non-written job offer. It appears that the University of Illinois did not rescind this offer for at least nine months after it was proffered in October!

Third: A faculty member has a moral and ethical duty to resign if employed by another institution. While I suppose a leave of absence could be mutually agreed upon, AAUP does require that a resignation follow the acceptance of a written job appointment.  Most contract offers require a response within a certain period. I don’t know what was in the Salaita contract but I imagine he complied with the request for acceptance by a certain date. It would be bizarre if he did not, given the fact he honourably resigned a tenured position at Virgina Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Fourth: A contract must contain a significant welter of detail and explanations of the specific posiition and duties. Among these are:

Details of institution­al policies and regulations that bear upon the appointment. Specific information on other relevant matters also should be conveyed in writing to the prospective appointee.

If the University of Illinois voided a signed contract without explicit prior stipulation on matters unrelated to teaching, scholarship and service, it would be a violation of academic freedom and a breach of contract. There must be adequate cause, the right of an adversarial hearing and an explicit statement of charges prior to dismissal or voiding a written proffer of an appointment. If it is true that Chancellor Phyllis Wise’s letter to Professor Salaita contained no reason for his termination, that is also a prima facie violation of a multiplicity of A.A.U.P. documents and principles.

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Professor Salaita Apparently is Gagged: Free Advice

I was told while being interviewed by the Roanoke Times in Virginia that Steven Salaita had tweeted the reporter that he had been “gagged.” My guess is he has an attorney. If he is reading this, you are smart to remain silent.

I was on a gag order by my university as they were trashing me and speculating I went “off the deep end.” That will never happen again!! Since the University of Illinois has said nothing negatively about you, I see no reason for you to publicly enter the fray at this time.  If you are going for a settlement, I hope it is substantial, at least three years, and a last resort. I would also stop tweeting anything that could be used against you.

We don’t have a free country, never have had, if you count slavery and Jim Crow. I count that! So meanwhile don’t add fuel to the fire. Keep your views and positions, just cast them a little differently. I stand for principle all day long; I am giving you hard scrabble advice from one who knows what you are going through, although not identical in career implications.

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Kirstein Interviewed on WILL: NPR/PBS at University of Illinois

On August 7 Jim Meadows a reporter at WILL Radio in Urbana interviewed me by telephone on the Professor Salaita appointment travesty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The station is part of NPR and also includes a television station. This is their article on the Salaita firing from their website. The embedded links to webpages are from the original.

Illinois Public Media logo

august 07, 2014

Professors’ Panel Criticizes Reported Dismissal Of Salaita

By Jim Meadows

A committee of university professors says the University of Illinois is violating academic freedom and standards of free speech, if it has withdrawn its pending appointment of Steven Salaita.

The online publication Inside Higher Ed cites anonymous sources in reporting that Salaita lost his appointment to teach this fall in the university’s American Indian Studies program on the Urbana-Champaign campus, after controversy arose over statements he made on Twitter critical of Israel’s policies in Gaza.

Professor Peter N. Kirstein of Saint Xavier University in Chicago says he’s seen persecution of professors who criticize Israel before. But he says if the news reports are accurate, the U of I’s action is a rare one, “where they would be so cruel to a professor, and essentially render him possibly destitute. I heard he resigned from Virginia Tech, so I assume he has nothing. Nothing. For tweets? Unbelievable.”

Kirstein is vice president of the Illinois Conference of the American Association of University Professors, and chairs its Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

In a statement released Wednesday, the committee stated that while Salaita’s tweets may be “strident and vulgar”, they are protected speech under the U-S Constitution. The statement says that while off-campus speech can be valid grounds for dismissal, university administrators need to make and defend their charges through appropriate channels.

A spokeswoman for the University says they don’t comment on personnel matters. Salaita has not returned calls from Illinois Public Media seeking comment.

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Illinois Committee A E-mail to U of I Chancellor re Salaita Debacle

From: Kirstein, Peter N.
Sent: Thursday, August 7, 2014 10:22 AM
To: pmwise@illinois.edu
Cc:
Subject: Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure Statement of Salaita Firing

Chancellor Phyllis Wise​                                                                                                                University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dear  Chancellor Phyllis Wise​:

I am sending you a copy of our statement on the Salaita firing for his apparent tweets.

We hope that you will reverse course and let this man teach his courses. It is essential you honour you commitment to him and to the academy to defend free speech even if it deviates from the standard narrative.

We are ready to communicate further on this matter.

Sincerely,

Peter    

Peter N. Kirstein, Ph.D.                                                                                                       Vice President A.A.U.P. Ill.
Chair: Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure
Professor of History

Saint Xavier University

                                                                              

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AAUP Blog Publishes Ill AAUP Statement on U of I Salaita Firing

Academe Blog of the American Association of University Professors OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Steven Salaita, denied academic freedom

CONTACT COMMITTEE CHAIR PETER N KIRSTEIN kirstein@sxu.edu

Illinois AAUP Committee A Statement on Steven Salaita and UIUC

The following is a statement by the Illinois AAUP Committee A on the case of Steven Salaita at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

The Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors supports the honoring of the appointment of Steven G. Salaita in the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Reports that the university has voided a job offer, if accurate, due to tweets on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be a clear violation of Professor Salaita’s academic freedom and an affront to free speech that we enjoy in this country.

Professor Salaita resigned his position at Virginia Tech and was about to assume his  new appointment at the University of Illinois. We stand by the appointment and by Professor Salaita and defend his right to engage in extramural utterances.

The AAUP 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure states in reference to extramural utterances: “When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.” It affirms that “The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.” While Professor’s Salaita’s tweets are construed as controversial, the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure affirms the virtue of controversial speech. While the Statement refers to classroom teaching, the virtual classroom today has no limits. In 1970 the 1940 Statementwas revised with new “Interpretive Comments.”  The second Interpretive Comment would encompass Professor Salaita’s right to be controversial: “The intent of this statement is not to discourage what is “controversial.” Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster.”

Professor Salaita’s words while strident and vulgar were an impassioned plea to end the violence currently taking place in the Middle East. Issues of life and death during bombardment educes significant emotions and expressions of concern that reflect the tragedy that armed conflict confers on its victims. Speech that is deemed controversial should be challenged with further speech that may abhor and challenge a statement. Yet the University of Illinois cannot cancel an appointment based upon Twitter statements that are protected speech in the United States of America.

The AAUP 1940 Statement does require a professor to be “accurate, to exercise appropriate restraint, to show respect for the opinions of others….” However in the AAUPCommittee A Statement on Extramural Utterances it states in reference to the 1940 Statement:

[An] administration may file charges in accordance with procedures outlined in the Statement if it feels that a faculty member has failed to observe the above admonitions and believes that the professor’s extramural utterances raise grave doubts concerning the professor’s fitness for continuing service.

We are unaware that the university has afforded Professor Salaita any due process. In the absence of due process, particularly if a contract was signed, any institutional action to reverse an offer of appointment would be a grave violation of academic due process. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Salaita statements about Israel or Zionism that would raise questions about his fitness to teach. These statements were not made in front of students, are not related to a course that is being taught, and do not reflect in any manner his quality of teaching. What one says out of class rarely, in the absence of peer review of teaching, confirms how one teaches. Passion about a topic even if emotionally expressed through social network does not allow one to draw inferences about teaching that could possibly rise to the voiding or reversal of a job appointment.

One must not conjecture about a link between extramural statements and the quality of classroom teaching, absent an unmistakable link that would raise issues of competence. None exist here. Indeed, we affirm that fitness to teach can be enhanced with conviction, commitment and an engagement with the outside world. As a professor who was proffered an appointment in American Indian Studies, we are particularly concerned if a university would void a contract of a professor exercising a right of citizenship in protesting actions of another country that much of the global community including the U.N. Secretary General and even the U.S. State Department have found “disgraceful.”

Peter N. Kirstein, Chair of Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, Saint Xavier University contact at kirstein@sxu.edu

Iymen Chehade, Columbia College

Loretta Capeheart, Northeastern Illinois University

J. Walter Kendall III, John Marshall School of Law

John Wilson, Illinois State University

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Illinois AAUP Committee A on University of Illinois and Steven Salaita Appointment

contact kirstein@sxu.edu

August 6, 2014

The Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors supports the honoring of the appointment of Steven G. Salaita in the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Reports that the university has voided a job offer, if accurate, due to tweets on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be a clear violation of Professor Salaita’s academic freedom and an affront to free speech that we enjoy in this country.

Professor Salaita resigned his position at Virginia Tech and was about to assume his  new appointment at the University of Illinois. We stand by the appointment and by Professor Salaita and defend his right to engage in extramural utterances.

The AAUP 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure states in reference to extramural utterances: “When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.” It affirms that “The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.” While Professor’s Salaita’s tweets are construed as controversial, the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure affirms the virtue of controversial speech. While the Statement refers to classroom teaching, the virtual classroom today has no limits. In 1970 the 1940 Statement was revised with new “Interpretive Comments.”  The second Interpretive Comment would encompass Professor Salaita’s right to be controversial: “The intent of this statement is not to discourage what is “controversial.” Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster.”

Professor Salaita’s words while strident and vulgar were an impassioned plea to end the violence currently taking place in the Middle East. Issues of life and death during bombardment educes significant emotions and expressions of concern that reflect the tragedy that armed conflict confers on its victims. Speech that is deemed controversial should be challenged with further speech that may abhor and challenge a statement. Yet the University of Illinois cannot cancel an appointment based upon Twitter statements that are protected speech in the United States of America.

The AAUP 1940 Statement does require a professor to be “accurate, to exercise appropriate restraint, to show respect for the opinions of others….” However in the AAUP Committee A Statement on Extramural Utterances it states in reference to the 1940 Statement:

[An] administration may file charges in accordance with procedures outlined in the Statement if it feels that a faculty member has failed to observe the above admonitions and believes that the professor’s extramural utterances raise grave doubts concerning the professor’s fitness for continuing service.

We are unaware that the university has afforded Professor Salaita any due process. In the absence of due process, particularly if a contract was signed, any institutional action to reverse an offer of appointment would be a grave violation of academic due process. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Salaita statements about Israel or Zionism that would raise questions about his fitness to teach. These statements were not made in front of students, are not related to a course that is being taught, and do not reflect in any manner his quality of teaching. What one says out of class rarely, in the absence of peer review of teaching, confirms how one teaches. Passion about a topic even if emotionally expressed through social network does not allow one to draw inferences about teaching that could possibly rise to the voiding or reversal of a job appointment.

One must not conjecture about a link between extramural statements and the quality of classroom teaching, absent an unmistakable link that would raise issues of competence. None exist here. Indeed, we affirm that fitness to teach can be enhanced with conviction, commitment and an engagement with the outside world. As a professor who was proffered an appointment in American Indian Studies, we are particularly concerned if a university would void a contract of a professor exercising a right of citizenship in protesting actions of another country that much of the global community including the U.N. Secretary General and even the U.S. State Department have found “disgraceful.”

Peter N. Kirstein, Chair of Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, Saint Xavier University

Iymen Chehade, Columbia College

Loretta Capeheart, Northeastern Illinois University

J. Walter Kendall III, John Marshall School of Law

John Wilson, Illinois State University

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5 Atomic Myths of Hiroshima: Gaza Comparisons

Captain Van Kirk, left, who was known as Dutch, with Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., center, and Maj. Thomas W. Ferebee in 1945 after they flew the Enola Gay to Hiroshima to drop an atomic bomb. Credit U.S. Air Force, via Agence France-Press — Getty Images    Photo and text courtesy of New York Times. The plane’s name was that of Tibbets’s mother.

Sixty-nine years ago tomorrow the United States destroyed Hiroshima with a single atomic bomb. Since that time, several myths have emerged that have shrouded the event with inaccurate revisionist history. These five myths are a corrective and a real revisionist history that challenges the prevailing narrative.

MYTH NUMBER 1: The U.S. prior to the initial atomic attack gave Japan an explicit atomic warning. Like the Israeli mass murder in Gaza, that is “justified” because the occupier told stateless persons to get out of Dodge before they are bombed, only to be murdered in U.N. safehouses, there is on-going perception that Japan knew an A-bomb was imminent.

No it was a cowardly, terrorist attack that came without an atomic warning. There were no atomic leaflets, like Israeli conventional bombing litter in their concentration camp of Gaza, that were dropped from aircraft warning of an impending attack. At least I have not seen any. The Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945 did warn of “prompt and utter destruction,” a war crime if there ever was one. The US, Great Britain and China signed the document that contained no reference of an atomic bomb. President Truman would not even inform explicitly Russian Premier Josef Stalin at the same Potsdam Conference that an atomic bomb was at hand. There is no historical evidence of any warning that an atomic bomb would be dropped on Japan. Like Pearl Harbor it was a sneak attack with far more deadly consequences.

MYTH NUMBER 2: Hiroshima was a major, military area that was a legitimate target of war. The New York Times  in its obit of July 19, 2014 on the death of Theodore (Dutch) Van Kirk, the last surviving  crew member and navigator of the Enola Gay, stated inaccurately that Hiroshima “was the site of an important army headquarters.”

No: This is nothing more than an effort to justify the killings of 150 to 175,000 civilians in that city.  The specific purpose in deploying the uranium core, fission bomb was to test or “demonstrate” the weapon and keep Russia at bay as it was prepared to carry out its long-sought promise at Yalta to enter the Pacific War. Hiroshima was a “virgin target,” one of Japan’s few wooden-constructed cities that had not yet been fire bombed by the cowardly US Army Air Corps: the wonderful air force would later become a separate department of genocide and hyperpower mass murder in Vietnam, thank you.

MYTH NUMBER 3: The atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9 abruptly ended the horrid war and World War II came to a rapid end on August 14, followed by the September 2  surrender ceremony on the Missouri.

Probably not: History does not always produce facts that are indisputable. However, consider this: The great Keynesian economist J. Kenneth Galbraith and the hawk Paul H. Nitze were members of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. It was a fancy name for folks who investigated the impact of city-busting bombing–a la Gaza mass murder by Israel–and concluded in their virtually ignored report of July 1, 1945:

Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

MYTH NUMBER 4:  An American amphibious invasion with the loss of a “million” lives, including many Japanese, was no longer necessary due to the atomic bomb and Japan’s surrender.

No: While related to the third myth, it is somewhat different. The argument that the A-bomb saved American and Japanese lives in an invasion is the most misunderstood aspect of the carnage. The invasion was not to begin until November on the southern island of Kyushu and the actual assault on Tokyo would not begin until spring 1946. So why the rush with very few ongoing US casualties at that point? Also, while criminal, the continued blockade of Japan, the withering conventional bombing of its cities and the Russian invasion that began in Manchuria on August 8, would most likely if not certainly have induced surrender prior to the planned invasion phases. There was no need to invade at any time: Japan was trapped, surrounded, defeated and would have surrendered without an invasion. Henry Stimson the secretary of war, is responsible for lying about the projected casualties in a Harper’s article and never addressed even the need for an invasion.

MYTH NUMBER 5: Japan deserved such a pounding as retaliation for its egregious attack on America at Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i and atrocities such as the Bataan Death March and the Rape of Nanking in China. President Harry Truman stressed the revenge theory in the White House release that announced the atrocity of the Hiroshima bombing as the president was returning from the Potsdam Conference near bombed-out Berlin.

No: The residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not bomb anyone. Gazan civilians did not fire rockets. It is unacceptable to target a civilian population as revenge for military actions for which they were not responsible. Non-combatant immunity must be enforced when humans otherwise try to kill one another and destroy their land and homes. Also Pearl Harbor, which should NOT have been attacked, was at least a hard, military target with about 2,403 casualties: planes, ships and crew persons were killed but virtually no civilians. Japan’s atomic cities were soft targets in which 250,000 were killed, which were intended to spread terror among the country, wreak untold misery on its population and annihilate a race that the U.S. deemed inferior and eligible for extirpation. Sounds like Gaza which thus far has been restricted to conventional weapons. At some point without resolution of the outstanding issues of oppression and colonization, a second nuclear war may emerge in the Middle East.

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Pulitzer Prize Winner Glenn Greenwald on Israeli Butchery in Gaza

The great Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio De Janeiro, exposed the terrorist–there is that word again–National Security Agency spying and invading the privacy of hundreds of millions of Americans, has written a factual based account on the disproportionate use of force that the Israeli Defence Forces have used against trapped civilians in the open-air concentration camp of Gaza. It appears on the Intercept website:

Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza

By 1,076
Featured photo - Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza Palestinian relatives mourn for victims of the Duheir family, near the rubble of their home, after it was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Rafah on July 29, 2014, in the southern of Gaza strip. Photo Credit: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

 

 

As I’ve written many times before, “terrorism” is, and from the start was designed to be, almost entirely devoid of discernible meaning. It’s a fear-mongering slogan, lacking any consistent application, intended to end rational debate and justify virtually any conduct by those who apply the term. But to the extent it means anything beyond that, it typically refers to the killing of civilians as a means of furthering political or military goals.

Below are two charts reflecting the deaths of civilians, soldiers and “militants” in both Gaza and Israel since the July 8 Israeli attack began. The statistics used are unduly generous toward Israel, since “militants” in Gaza are often nothing more than residents who take up arms to defend their homes against an invading and occupying army. Even with that generous interpretation, these numbers, standing alone, tell a powerful story:

graph (1)

 

graph (2)

If you landed on earth from another planet this week, knowing nothing other than the most common use of the word “terrorism,” which side do you think would most frequently be referred to as “terrorists”?

Often, the most vivid illustration of the criminality of this attack comes not from data but from isolated stories. Yesterday, for instance, “in Khan Younis, five members of the Najjar family, which lost 21 people in a previous strike, were killed.” Meanwhile, “in the Al Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, an airstrike from an F-16 killed the mayor, Anis Abu Shamala, and four others in his home, some of whom had taken refuge there from intense artillery shelling nearby.”

At the same time, the Israeli government’s messaging machine quickly switched from hyping rocket attacks, which were causing relatively little damage, to featuring what it began calling “terror tunnels”. The U.S. media dutifully followed suit, with CNN anchor (and former AIPAC employee) Wolf Blitzer touring a “terror tunnel” led around by the IDF and his flashlight, while the New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren did the same in an article headlined “Tunnels Lead Right to the Heart of Israeli Fear,” quoting “Israeli military officials”, “an Israeli military spokesman”, and “Israeli experts”. But a separate article in the NYT highlighted how these “terror tunnels” are actually used:

The strikes during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr came after the latest humanitarian halt to hostilities was punctured by attacks on both sides, culminating in the most deadly incursion yet by Palestinian militants through an underground tunnel from Gaza into Israel.

Colonel Lerner said Tuesday that between four and eight gunmen had burst from the tunnel near a military watchtower near the border and killed five soldiers in an adjacent building with antitank missiles.

In American media discourse, when Palestinians overwhelmingly kill soldiers (95% of the Israeli death toll) who are part of an army that is blockading, occupying, invading, and indiscriminately bombing them and killing their children by the hundreds, that is “terrorism”; when Israelis use massive, brutal force against a trapped civilian population, overwhelmingly killing innocent men, women and children (at least 75% of the Palestinian death toll), with clear intentions to kill civilians (see point 3), that is noble “self-defense.” That demonstrates how skewed U.S. discourse is in favor of Israel, as well as the purely manipulative, propagandistic nature of the term “terrorists.”

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Rise of Antisemitism in Europe: A Response

Much is being written of an  alleged resurgence of antisemitism in Europe. I am certain the ramifications of such a recrudescence pales in comparison to the murderous anti-Islamic prejudice in the Middle East. The deliberate killing of babies, schools full of children, UN sanctuaries harboring a terrified, refugee population and the general suffering of the Palestinian population in Gaza are much more lethal. While any form of racialism should be condemned: humans should respect one another and tolerate different cultures and pathways, the issue of antisemitism is really a sideshow and a diversion from the monstrous, war crimes being committed by nuclear-armed Israel against a defenceless civilian population. The issue of antisemitism has been a taboo on higher education and the pursuit of the truth ranging from the history of the Middle East to the Nakba and displacement of 750,000 Palestinians so Jews could carve out their country as a settlement in Palestine Mandate.

Academics in the United States in particular are fearful of condemning the bestiality and terrorism of the State of Israel because they might be labeled antisemitic. The fig leaf of antisemitism has been used increasingly by Israelis and the Israel Lobby in the United States to discourage criticism of Israel. I don’t doubt that antisemitism rises when a country that demands it be recognised as a Jewish state is extirpating an entire culture in its quest for a greater Israel.

Yet obviously the reasons for this alleged upsurge of antisemitism needs to be placed on the doorstep of Tel Aviv and Haifa. A more civilised Israel that would cease its ethnic cleansing, colonialisation of the Palestinians and reverse its clearly articulated apartheid policy would mitigate resentment that engenders antisemitism. It is natural, if not regrettable, for enraged citizens to conjoin their condemnation of Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law with adverse comments about Jews. It is not welcomed; it should be criticised but we must avoid a gratuitous diversion from the more significant and lethal display of racialism: Israel and its Gaza War against harmless, non-combatants.

The image of tiny, fair skinned westernised Israel surrounded by teeming hordes of darker Asian Arabs in countless states has endured, however inaccurately, since its misbegotten creation in 1948. Yet has anyone observed that Israel is a relatively gigantic power waging war against the weakest of states? A larger country of 8,019 square miles, with 8,000,000 in population, with an air force, navy and army is fighting against a tiny strip of 139 square miles and a population of 1,800,000 residents, with merely an informal Hamas military desperately trying to end the occupation, a vicious blockade seen nowhere else on earth, and flee from the virtual concentration camp of misery that the heirs of the shoa have perpetrated.

This is the main event, not the collateral damage of antisemitism that naturally emerges when a Jewish state, with an exclusive religious symbol on its flag, commits flagrant war crimes with impunity against a civilian population. United States’ United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power says nothing as babies burn and have their heads blown off!! She says nothing as she is whisked from meeting to meeting with chauffeurs and body guards and elegance. Nothing comes from this hypocritical putative anti-genocide expert as war crimes are committed against an Arab-civilian population. She is what she is: a coward who goes along to keep her beautiful life and elite status intact.

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Kirstein Interviewed on the Centennial of World War I

I was interviewed in the Chicago Sun-Times’ Daily Southtown Star on the legacy of the Great War. Photos courtesy of the Daily Southtown Star.

In this photaken Saturday June 14 2014 entrance World War I Saint-Charles de Potyze Cemetery Zonnebeke Belgium. More than 4000

In this photo taken on Saturday, June 14, 2014, the entrance of the World War I Saint-Charles de Potyze Cemetery in Zonnebeke, Belgium. More than 4000 French soldiers are buried in the cemetery with a further 600 unknown soldiers interred in a mass grave. The cemetery is the largest French cemetery in Belgium. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

ARTICLE EXTRAS

Updated: July 31, 2014 2:09AM

 

A hundred years is a long time.

Though the United States was directly involved in World War I for just a year and a half, it nevertheless felt the impact of what had been billed, “The Great War.”

That impact not only lingers, it plays an integral part in the chaos that reigns today in the Middle East, the power struggle that Russia is now perpetrating in Ukraine and the way we define personal freedom right here in the United States.

As we mark the centennial of the start of WWI, it is quite obvious that much has changed since a Serb nationalist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, setting in motion a monthslong chain reaction among trigger-itching nations across Europe and as far away as Japan and Bolivia.

For one, the nature and weapons of war are much more sophisticated. The days of soldiers hovering in trenches or running full speed to slaughter across “No Man’s Land” are gone.

But the reasons that propel us to pit nation against nation remain the same: power, control and a loosely defined pursuit of “freedom.”

Peter Kirstein, professor of history at St. Xavier University on Chicago’s Southwest Side, says much of what came out of World War I remains relevant today. President Woodrow Wilson may have called it the war to end all wars, but, Kirstein said, “World War I proved that war just leads to more war.”

And so here are just 10 reasons to give a care about World War I.

1. The Middle East. “The situation in the Middle East and Palestine is a direct result of the first World War,” Kirstein said. The Sykes-Picot Agreement basically divided up between Great Britain and France parts of what had been the Ottoman Empire, he said. That was the beginning of European intervention in that region, he said.

At the same time, The Balfour Declaration gave support to the notion of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and gave Great Britain temporary control of it, he said. It began a process of establishing a Jewish state in an Arab-dominated area that is still not resolved today. “We clearly can see that some of the problems in the Middle East today, with regard to the displacement of Palestine, date back to World War I,” he said.

2. Ukraine. After World War I, Germany believed that it was being unduly punished, Kirstein said. It was told to pay reparations and limitations were set on the size of its army. Article 231 of the Versailles Treaty basically blames Germany for causing the war, he said, when in reality, there were several causes for that especially bloody war. The Germans, including Adolf Hitler, felt that they’d been stabbed in the back. That paved the way for Hitler’s rise to power.

Today, Russia, which saw its empire dissolved by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, now has the same “get-even mentality,” Kirstein said. “The problems in Ukraine right now are directly linked to what the U.S. did after the Cold War ended in 1991,” he said. “Just like Germany after World War I, Russia wants to restore its glory.”

3. Women’s Rights. The war propelled millions of American women into the workforce, Kirstein said. That sense of responsibility and independence encouraged the Women’s Rights Movement and helped establish their right to vote.

4. Great Migration. Before 1914, African Americans primarily lived in the southern states. The war compelled them to move north, with many heading for Chicago, thanks to the promotional work of the Chicago Defender newspaper, Kirstein said. They came in search of factory jobs that were made available by overseas combat. They brought with them their culture and their music. The Great Migration caused Chicago to become a host of the Jazz Movement. Among the musicians who made their way to Chicago’s South Side were Louis Armstrong and King Oliver.

5. Architectural Changes. World War I rearranged the architecture of Europe more than World War II did. Kirstein said the war gave rise to a number of independent nations that had been under the rule of Austria-Hungary rule, such as Hungary, Yugoslavia, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

6. Sophisticated Weaponry. Tanks, machine guns, chemical weapons all came on the scene during WWI. That was the real introduction of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Kirstein said. “In World War I, they were using 20th Century weapons with 19th Century tactics,” he said. An example: Having men run across enemy territory only to have them picked off by machine gun fire.

7. Medical advances. Not only was the first blood bank established on a Belgian battlefield during WWI, Kirstein said, the war led to the first medical and psychology study of post-traumatic stress and shell shock.

8. Loss of Freedom. What do the Dixie Chicks have in common with German-Americans or Socialists who lived in America during WWI? Both suffered for their anti-war views.

“World War I began the persecution of Americans who don’t think that war is something America should be doing,” he said. Since then, whenever this country has engaged in war, those who oppose it or who simply give the appearance of opposing it (Japanese Americans during WWII) find their rights oppressed, he said.

In 2006, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed posthumous pardons for nearly 80 men and women convicted of sedition in 1918 and 1919 because they criticized the U.S. government’s war effort, Kirstein said.

After the Dixie Chicks expressed their views just before the start of the Iraq War, pro-Bush and pro-war groups called for the nation to shun the country music group.

“One of the biggest legacies of WWI should be that war can be an oppressor to freedoms at home,” Kirstein said.

9. A Miracle Truce. Perhaps the most touching revelation to come out of WWI happened at Christmas, 1914. At the start, many speculated the war would be over by year’s end, but that did not happen. According to history.com, on Dec. 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV called for a hiatus of the war in light of Christmas, but the warring countries refused to create any official cease-fire. Still, on Christmas Day the soldiers in the trenches along the Belgian front declared their own unofficial truce, the site states. British and German troops put down their rifles and could be heard singing Christmas carols and seen playing football, it said. Kirstein said, “That showed, ultimately, that humans had to be taught how to fight. That they were reluctant to fight.”

10. Remembrance. World War I officially ended at 11 a.m. on 11/11/1918. That is why, to this day, we celebrate Veteran’s Day, or Armistice Day, each Nov. 11.

Comment on the Sun-Times Southtown Star Website

Donna Vickroy’s informative July 31 article, “A century later, World War I still matters,” particularly as it touched on the Middle East and Ukraine, triggered the thought that President Obama didn’t cause any of these perplexing and probably unsolvable problems. Not that it stops some people from blaming him just the same.

Gerry from Tinley Park

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Legal Scholars Denounce Gaza Mass Murder

The International Community Must End Israel’s Collective Punishment of the Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip
As international and criminal law scholars, human rights defenders, legal experts and individuals who firmly believe in the rule of law and in the necessity for its respect in times of peace and more so in times of war, we feel the intellectual and moral duty to denounce the grave violations, mystification and disrespect of the most basic principles of the laws of armed conflict and of the fundamental human rights of the entire Palestinian population committed during the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.
We also condemn the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip, as every indiscriminate attack against civilians, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators, is not only illegal under international law but also morally intolerable. However, as also implicitly noted by the UN Human Rights Council in its Resolution of the 23 July 2014, the two parties to the conflict cannot be considered equal, and their actions – once again – appear to be of incomparable magnitude.
Once again it is the unarmed civilian population, the “protected persons” under International humanitarian law (IHL), who is in the eye of the storm. Gaza’s civilian population has been victimized in the name of a falsely construed right to self-defence, in the midst of an escalation of violence provoked in the face of the entire international community. The so-called Operation Protective Edge erupted during an ongoing armed conflict, in the context of a prolonged belligerent occupation that commenced in 1967. In the course of this ongoing conflict thousands of Palestinians have been killed and injured in the Gaza Strip during recurrent and ostensible “ceasefire” periods since 2005, after Israel’s unilateral “disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The deaths caused by Israel’s provocative actions in the Gaza Strip prior to the latest escalation of hostilities must not be ignored as well.
According to UN sources, over the last two weeks, nearly 800 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and more than 4,000 injured, of whom the vast majority were civilians. Several independent sources indicate that only 15 per cent of the casualties were combatants. Entire families have been murdered. Hospitals, clinics, as well as a rehabilitation center for disabled persons have been targeted and severely damaged. During one single day, on Sunday 20 July, more than 100 Palestinian civilians were killed in Shujaiya, a residential neighborhood of Gaza City. This was one of the bloodiest and most aggressive operations ever conducted by Israel in the Gaza Strip, a form of urban violence constituting a total disrespect of civilian innocence. Sadly, this was followed only a couple of days later by an equally destructive attack on Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis.
Additionally, the offensive has already caused widespread destruction of buildings and infrastructure: according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 3,300 houses have been targeted resulting in their destruction or severe damage. As denounced by the UN Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on the Gaza conflict in the aftermath of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008-2009: “While the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right to self defence, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: The people of Gaza as a whole” (A/HRC/12/48, par. 1680). The same can be said for the current Israeli offensive.
The civilian population in the Gaza Strip is under direct attack and many are forced to leave their homes. What was already a refugee and humanitarian crisis has worsened with a new wave of mass displacement of civilians: the number of IDPs [internally displaced persons] has reached nearly 150,000, many of whom have obtained shelter in overcrowded UNRWA schools, which unfortunately are no safe areas as demonstrated by the repeated attacks on the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun. Everyone in Gaza is traumatized and living in a state of constant terror.
This result is intentional, as Israel is again relying on the “Dahiya doctrine,” which deliberately has recourse to disproportionate force to inflict suffering on the civilian population in order to achieve political (to exert pressure on the Hamas Government) rather than military goals.
In so doing, Israel is repeatedly and flagrantly violating the law of armed conflict, which establishes that combatants and military objectives may be targeted, i.e. “those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.” Most of the recent heavy bombings in Gaza lack an acceptable military justification and, instead, appear to be designed to terrorize the civilian population. As the ICRC clarifies, deliberately causing terror is unequivocally illegal under customary international law.
In its Advisory Opinion in the Nuclear Weapons case, the ICJ [International Court of Justice] stated that the principle of distinction, which requires belligerent States to distinguish between civilian and combatants, is one of the “cardinal principles” of international humanitarian law and one of the “intransgressible principles of international customary law.”
The principle of distinction is codified in Articles 48, 51(2) and 52(2) of the Additional Protocol I of 1977 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, to which no reservations have been made. According to Additional Protocol I, “attacks” refer to “acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence” (Article 49). Under both customary international law and treaty law, the prohibition on directing attacks against the civilian population or civilian objects is absolute. There is no discretion available to invoke military necessity as a justification.
Contrary to Israel’s claims, mistakes resulting in civilian casualties cannot be justified: in case of doubt as to the nature of the target, the law clearly establishes that an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes (such as schools, houses, places of worship and medical facilities), are presumed as not being used for military purposes.
During these past weeks, UN officials and representatives have repeatedly called on Israel to strictly abide by the principle of precaution in carrying out attacks in the Gaza Strip, where risks are greatly aggravated by the very high population density, and maximum restraint must be exercised to avoid civilian casualties. Human Rights Watch has noted that these rules exist to minimize mistakes “when such mistakes are repeated, it raises the concern of whether the rules are being disregarded.”
Moreover, even when targeting clear military objectives, Israel consistently violates the principle of proportionality: this is particularly evident with regard to the hundreds of civilian houses destroyed by the Israeli army during the current military operation in Gaza. With the declared intention to target a single member of Hamas, Israeli forces have bombed and destroyed houses although occupied as residences by dozens of civilians, including women, children, and entire families.
It is inherently illegal under customary international law to intentionally target civilian objects, and the violation of such a fundamental tenet of law can amount to a war crime. Issuing a “warning” – such as Israel’s so-called roof knocking technique, or sending an SMS five minutes before the attack – does not mitigate this: it remains illegal to wilfully attack a civilian home without a demonstration of military necessity as it amounts to a violation of the principle of proportionality. Moreover, not only are these “warnings” generally ineffective, and can even result in further fatalities, they appear to be a pre-fabricated excuse by Israel to portray people who remain in their homes as “human shields.”
The indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the targeting of objectives providing no effective military advantage, and the intentional targeting of civilians and civilian houses have been persistent features of Israel’s long-standing policy of punishing the entire population of the Gaza Strip, which, for over seven years, has been virtually imprisoned by Israeli imposed closure.
Such a regime amounts to a form of collective punishment, whichviolates the unconditional prohibition set forth in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and has been internationally condemned for its illegality. However, far from being effectively opposed by international actors, Israel’s illegal policy of absolute closure imposed on the Gaza Strip has relentlessly continued, under the complicit gaze of the international community of States.
As affirmed in 2009 by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict: “Justice and respect for the rule of law are the indispensable basis for peace. The prolonged situation has created a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action” (A/HRC/12/48, para. 1958) Indeed: “long-standing impunity has been a key factor in the perpetuation of violence in the region and in the reoccurrence of violations, as well as in the erosion of confidence among Palestinians and many Israelis concerning prospects for justice and a peaceful solution to the conflict” (A/HRC/12/48, para. 1964).
Therefore,
  • We welcome the Resolution adopted on 23 July 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council, in which an independent, international commission of inquiry was established to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
  • We call upon the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, individual States, in particular the United States of America, and the international community in its entirety and with its collective power to take action in the spirit of the utmost urgency to put an end to the escalation of violence against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, and to activate procedures to hold accountable all those responsible for violations of international law, including political leaders and military commanders. In particular:
  • All regional and international actors should support the immediate conclusion of a durable, comprehensive, and mutually agreed ceasefire agreement, which must secure the rapid facilitation and access of humanitarian aid and the opening of borders to and from Gaza;
  • All High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions must be urgently and unconditionally called upon to comply with their fundamental obligations, binding at all times, and to act under common Article 1, to take all measures necessary for the suppression of grave breaches, as clearly imposed by Article 146 and Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention; these rules are applicable by all interested parties as well;
  • Moreover, we denounce the shameful political pressures exerted by several UN Member States and the UN on President Mahmoud Abbas, to discourage recourse to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and we urge the Governmental leaders of Palestine to invoke the jurisdiction of the ICC, by ratifying the ICC treaty and in the interim by resubmitting the declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, in order to investigate and prosecute the serious international crimes committed on the Palestinian territory by all parties to the conflict; and
  • The UN Security Council must finally exercise its responsibilities in relation to peace and justice by referring the situation in Palestine to the Prosecutor of the ICC.
Signers:
Please note that institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only.
  1. John Dugard, Former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  2. Richard Falk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  3. Alain Pellet, Professor of Public International Law, University Paris Ouest, former Member of the United Nations International Law Commission, France
  4. Georges Abi-Saab, Emeritus Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Former Judge on the ICTY
  5. Vera Gowlland-Debbas, Emeritus Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
  6. Chantal Meloni, Adjunct Professor of International Criminal Law, University of Milan, Italy (Rapporteur)
  7. Roy Abbott, Consultant in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, Australia
  8. Lama Abu-Odeh, Law Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
  9. Susan M. Akram, Clinical Professor and supervising attorney, International Human rights Program, Boston University School of Law, USA
  10. Taris Ahmad, Solicitor at Jones Day, London, UK
  11. Maria Anagnostaki, PhD candidate, Law School University of Athens, Greece
  12. Antony Anghie, Professor of Law, University of Utah, USA
  13. Nizar Ayoub, Director, Al-Marsad, Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights
  14. Valentina Azarov, Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law, Al Quds Bard College, Palestine
  15. Ammar Bajboj, Lecturer in Law, University of Damascus, Syria
  16. Samia Bano, SOAS School of Law, London, UK
  17. Asli Ü Bali, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law, USA
  18. Jakub Michał Baranowski, Phd Candidate, Universita’ degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy
  19. Frank Barat, Russell Tribunal on Palestine
  20. Emma Bell, Coordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, Université de Savoie, France
  21. Barbara Giovanna Bello, Post-doc Fellow, University of Milan, Italy
  22. Brenna Bhandar, Senior lecturer in Law, SOAS School of Law, London, UK
  23. George Bisharat, Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of Law, USA
  24. Barbara Blok, LLM Candidate, University of Essex, UK
  25. John Braithwaite, Professor of Criminology, Australian National University, Australia
  26. Michelle Burgis-Kasthala, lecturer in international law, University of Edinburgh, UK
  27. Eddie Bruce-Jones, Lecturer in Law, University of London, Birkbeck College, UK
  28. Sandy Camlann, LLM Candidate, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France
  29. Grazia Careccia, Human Rights Advocate, London, UK
  30. Baris Cayli, Impact Fellow, University of Stirling, UK
  31. Antonio Cavaliere, Professor of Criminal Law, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
  32. Kathleen Cavanaugh, Senior Lecturer, Irish Center for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  33. Elizabeth Chadwick, Reader in International Law, Nottingham, UK
  34. Donna R. Cline, Attorney at Law, USA
  35. Karen Corteen, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Chester, UK
  36. Andrew Dahdal, Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  37. Teresa Dagenhardt, Reader in Criminology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  38. Luigi Daniele, PhD candidate in Law, Italy
  39. Alessandro De Giorgi, Professor of Justice Studies, San Josè State University, USA
  40. Paul de Waart, Professor Emeritus of International Law, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  41. Gabriele della Morte, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University Cattolica, Milan, Italy
  42. Max du Plessis, Professor of Law, University of Kwazulu-Natal, and Barrister, South Africa and London, UK
  43. Noura Erakat, Georgetown University, USA
  44. Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Canada
  45. Mireille Fanon-Mendés France, Independent Expert UNO, Frantz Fanon Foundation, France
  46. Michelle Farrell, lecturer in law, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool, UK
  47. Daniel Feierstein, Professor and President International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), Argentina
  48. Eleonor Fernández Muñoz, Costa Rica
  49. J. Tenny Fernando, Attorney at Law, Sri Lanka
  50. Amelia Festa, LLM Candidate, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
  51. Katherine Franke, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School, USA
  52. Jacques Gaillot, Bishop in partibus of Patenia
  53. Katherine Gallagher, Vice President FIDH, senior attorney, Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, USA
  54. Avo Sevag Garabet, LLM, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
  55. Jose Garcia Anon, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
  56. Irene Gasparini, PhD candidate, Universitá Cattolica, Milan, Italy
  57. Stratos Georgoulas, Assistant Professor, University of the Aegean, Greece
  58. Haluk Gerger, Professor, Turkey
  59. Hedda Giersten, Professor, Universitet I Oslo, Norway
  60. Javier Giraldo, Director Banco de Datos CINEP, Colombia
  61. Carmen G. Gonzales, Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  62. Penny Green, Professor of Law and Criminology, Director of the State Crime Initiative, King’s College London, UK
  63. Katy Hayward, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  64. Andrew Henley, PhD candidate, Keele University, UK
  65. Christiane Hessel, Paris, France
  66. Paddy Hillyard, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  67. Ata Hindi, Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  68. Francois Houtart, Professor, National Institute of Higher Studies, Quito, Ecuador
  69. Deena R. Hurwitz, Professor, General Faculty, Director International Human Rights Law Clinic, University of Virginia School of Law, USA
  70. Perfecto Andrés Ibánes, Magistrado Tribunal Supremo de Espagna, Spain
  71. Franco Ippolito, President of the Permanent People’s Tribunal, Italy
  72. Ruth Jamieson, Honorary Lecturer, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  73. Helen Jarvis, former member Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), member of IAGS, Cambodia
  74. Ioannis Kalpouzos, Lecturer in Law, City Law School, London, UK
  75. Victor Kattan, post-doctoral fellow, Law Faculty, National University of Singapore
  76. Michael Kearney, PhD, Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex, UK
  77. Yousuf Syed Khan, USA
  78. Tarik Kochi, Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex, UK
  79. Anna Koppel, MSt Candidate in International Human Rights Law, University of Oxford, UK
  80. Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and lawyer
  81. Giulia Lanza, PhD Candidate, Università degli Studi di Verona, Italy
  82. Daniel Machover, solicitor, Hickman & Rose, London, UK
  83. Tayyab Mahmud, Professor of Law, Director of the Centre for Global Justice, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  84. Maria C. LaHood, Senior Staff Attorney, CCR, New York, USA
  85. Louise Mallinder, Reader in Human Rights and International Law, University of Ulster, UK
  86. Triestino Mariniello, Lecturer in International Criminal Law, Edge Hill University, UK
  87. Mazen Masri, Lecturer in Law, The City Law School, City University, London, UK
  88. Siobhan McAlister, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  89. Liam McCann, Principal Lecturer in Criminology, University of Lincoln, UK
  90. Jude McCulloch, Professor of Criminology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  91. Yvonne McDermott Rees, Lecturer in Law, University of Bangor, UK
  92. Cahal McLaughlin, Professor, School of Creative Arts, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  93. Araks Melkonyan, LLM Candidate, University of Essex, UK
  94. Antonio Menna, PhD Candidate, Second University of Naples, Caserta, Italy
  95. Naomi Mezey, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
  96. Michele Miravalle, PhD candidate, University of Torino, Italy
  97. Sergio Moccia, Professor of Criminal Law, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
  98. Kerry Moore, Lecturer, Cardiff University
  99. Giuseppe Mosconi, Professor of Sociology, University of Padova, Italy
  100. Usha Natarajan, Assistant Professor, Department of Law & Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies, The American University in Cairo, Egypt
  101. Miren Odriozola Gurrutxaga, PhD Candidate, University of the Basque Country, Donostia – San Sebastián, Spain
  102. Georgios Papanicolaou, Reader in Criminology, Teesside University, UK
  103. Marco Pertile, Senior Lecturer in International Law,
  104. Faculty of Law, University of Trento, Italy
  105. Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Professor of Law and Theory, LLM, The Westminster Law and Theory Centre, UK
  106. Antoni Pigrau Solé, Universitat Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona, Spain
  107. Joseph Powderly, Assistant Professor of Public International Law, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  108. Tony Platt, Visiting Professor of Justice Studies, San Jose State University, USA
  109. Scott Poynting, Professor in Criminology, University of Auckland, New Zeeland
  110. Chris Powell, Professor of Criminology, University S.Maine, USA
  111. Bill Quigley, Professor, Loyola University, New Orleans College of Law, USA
  112. John Quigley, Professor of Law, Ohio State University
  113. Zouhair Racheha, PhD Candidate, University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France
  114. Laura Raymond, International Human Rights Advocacy Program Manager, CCR, New York, USA
  115. Véronique Rocheleau-Brosseau, LLM candidate, Laval University, Canada
  116. David Rodríguez Goyes, Lecturer, Antonio Nariño and Santo Tomás Universities, Colombia
  117. Alessandro Rosanò, PhD Candidate, Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy
  118. Jamil Salem, Director Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  119. Mahmood Salimi, LLM Candidate, Moofid University, Iran
  120. Nahed Samour, doctoral fellow, Humboldt University, Faculty of Law, Berlin, Germany
  121. Iain GM Scobbie, Professor of Public International Law, University of Manchester, UK
  122. David Scott, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
  123. Phil Scraton, Professor of Criminology, Belfast, Ireland
  124. Rachel Seoighe, PhD Candidate, Legal Consultant, King’s College London, UK
  125. Tanya Serisier, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  126. Mohammad Shahabuddin, PdD, Visiting researcher, Graduate School of International Social Sciences, Yokohama National University, Japan
  127. Dean Spade, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  128. Per Stadig, lawyer, Sweden
  129. Chantal Thomas, Professor of Law, Cornell University, USA
  130. Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, Columbia University, USA
  131. Gianni Tognoni, Lelio Basso Foundation, Rome, Italy
  132. Steve Tombs, Professor of Criminology, The Open University, UK
  133. Paul Troop, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, UK
  134. Valeria Verdolini, Reader in Sociology, University of Milan, Italy
  135. Francesca Vianello, University of Padova, Italy
  136. Aimilia Voulvouli, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Fatih University, Turkey
  137. Namita Wahi, Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, India
  138. Sharon Weill, PhD, Science Po, Paris/ CERAH, Geneva, Switzerland
  139. Peter Weiss, Vice President of Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, USA
  140. David Whyte, Reader in Sociology, University of Liverpool, UK
  141. Jeanne M. Woods, Henry F. Bonura, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans, USA
  142. William Thomas Worster, Lecturer, International Law, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
  143. Maung Zarni, Judge, PPT on Sri Lanka and Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science

 

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Kirstein Interview on Palestine and Academic Freedom

I was interviewed by Ray Hanania on Arab Daily News at 2:00 pm.

I will be interviewed on Yahala Voice radio AM 1450 in Chicago today with Nesreen Balhut at 4:00 pm.

Topics will be on academic freedom and the Palestine/Israel wars. The conflict in Gaza and who knows what else? Maybe the US role in the Middle East too.

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The Cowardice of Israeli Air and Naval Forces

I wonder what the pilots of American-made jets, F-16 or helicopters, Apache (note the racist a la “Redskins” name), causing these war crimes against the outdoor prison of Gaza are thinking. They fly only a few miles from base, drop their bombs or fire their missiles at hospitals, U.N. schools, densely populated areas to demoralise the population and create internal resistance against Hamas. These despicable and bullying tactics of mass murder are unacceptable for a people constantly demanding that the holocaust or shoa never escape public memory.

These pilots never tire unlike real pilots who need refueling and travel thousands of kilometers. They never face AAA, anti-aircraft artillery. They never “engage”other aircraft. They take off, murder and return to their homes at night while funerals, mourning, hunger, fear and medical atrocities occur. Hamas has no air force or navy. Consider that!!

From the Nakba to now, we have a militarised nation, whose flag contains the exclusivity of a Jewish symbol, who uses any excuse to attack and destroy an entire nation under its relentless and cynical control. A concentration camp to be sure is Gaza. Israeli pilots should refuse to fly over it. Its navy without accuracy and without precision targeting kills babies on beaches. The navy which is responsible for war crimes common during World War II enforces a baby-killing, pulverising blockade allegedly so the resistance cannot obtain any materials in its drive for independence and freedom. The captains of those destroyers, frigates, corvettes, missile boats and gunboats are beyond the range of retaliation. The pilots of those jets flashing across the sky of urban areas are beyond retaliation.We have a nuclear power against a defenceless population and the US refuses to cut off aid, land a peacekeeping force into the region or demand cessation.

Samantha Power, the sage of genocide and mass murder, is silent over such carnage. Where is she now when these atrocities occur? Why does not the UN Representative denounce Israel for this suffering? She is silent and to be silent is to lie!!! The murders of the Israeli air force and navy are violations of Just War doctrine, the laws of war and international humanitarian law.

The blockade is illegal and appalling. The bombing of an urban enclave with scant concern for its residents is what Germany did to Rotterdam and Coventry and the US to Berlin and Nagasaki: indiscriminate strategic bombing. Until Israel is either forced to act as a civilised nation and brought to justice before the Hague, this continued crime against the Palestinian people will haunt the conscience of the world.

Racism, hatred of Islam and the use of American military power with Israeli perpetrators is inexcusable and a shame on both the United States and its Israeli partner in abuse and colonialism. I will have more to say about I.D.F. army’s invasion but today it is the air force and navy that must be exposed for what they are. Ruthless cowards who kill without risk of the slightest retaliation.

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