For someone like me, who is inside the university and supports Salaita, the boycott [of UI-UC] represents an experiential impasse. I find myself in the impossible position of being the target of a boycott as a member of an institution whose actions I and many others here have challenged. Unlike faculty members outside Urbana-Champaign whose safe target is another university, our target is our own. The frequently repeated joke here—How do we boycott ourselves?—captures this problem. How do you oppose your own institution yet protect valuable parts of it at the same time?
The vicious anti-Israel boycotters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement don’t like it when the tables are turned on them. That’s why, when faculty pass their anti-Israel boycott resolutions, they include in the resolutions the demand that their right to boycott be protected. In other words, boycotters claim the right to boycott others, but deny others the right to boycott them.In addition to federal legislation, Illinois is on the verge of passing legislation which effectively causes the State to boycott the boycotters. The Washington Free Beacon reports, Anti-BDS Bill Poised for Passage in Illinois Legislature:
A milestone bill meant to combat international boycotts of Israel cleared a major procedural hurdle in the Illinois House this week, paving the way for the state to become among the first to divest funds from any company supporting the anti-Israel Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement. The bill, which would force Illinois’ five state pension funds to divest from any company supporting boycotts of Israel, passed by a 10-0 vote through a key executive committee on Wednesday and is now on its way to a full vote in the state’s legislature, where it is expected to garner widespread support.... If passed, Illinois would become the first state in nation to divest from companies abroad that support Israel boycotts.The anti-Israel movement issued urgent alerts to try to stop the legislation in committee.
I have argued strenuously against the academic boycott of Israel, led by people like Steven Salaita, on a number of grounds. Not the least of those grounds is that academics who insist on violating the academic freedom of Israelis and those who wish to interact with Israelis do damage to the system in its entirety.... There is a related point to how academic boycotts have a negative ripple effect. On what ground do the academic boycotters of Israel claim their own academic freedom if they are so quick to deny it to others?
Specifically, Dr. Salaita began making a series of statements via social media on precisely the subject matter that he proposed to teach at our University. For example, on June 19, 2014, after three Israeli teenagers were reported kidnapped and presumed dead, Dr. Salaita posted a statement on Twitter which read: “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the f**king West Bank settlers would go missing.” Dr. Salaita continued to post this comment even after the three teens were found murdered later that month.... These statements and many more like them demonstrate that Dr. Salaita lacks the judgment, temperament and thoughtfulness to serve as a member of our faculty in any capacity, but particularly to teach courses related to the Middle East.The University denies that donor pressure influenced the decision. Presumably, as Chancellor Wise said in an interview recently, the university constantly gets donor complaints on a variety of issues, including sports. Those among Salaita's BDS supporters -- who have driven the protests -- who thought that Salaita had a strong case may be in for a rude awakening. They want to put the university, the Chancellor and the donors on trial, but Salaita may find himself on trial. As someone who handled employment cases as a large part of my private practice prior to joining academia, almost always for the employee, the Salaita case will be no easy win, no matter how much supportive websites with an anti-Israel agenda and pro-BDS faculty tweet out support and urge Salaita on. When this story first broke on August 6, I asked the following question to readers:
University of Illinois trustees say they will not reconsider a September decision to rescind a job offer to a professor over his profane, anti-Israel Twitter messages. The trustees issued a statement Thursday that said the decision was final. A committee of university faculty had recommended that the school reconsider hiring Steven Salaita. Salaita was offered a job teaching Native American Studies at the Urbana-Champaign campus starting last August but the offer was rescinded after he wrote the Twitter messages. Some university donors complained they were anti-Semitic.The Urbana News-Gazette further reports:
One of groups is co-sponsor of Steven Salaita Chicago-area speaking tour....
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