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August 19, 2014


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You have still not retracted your misrepresentation of the tweet about anti-Semitism. I find it hard to believe that you really think the tweet about Netanyahu has anything to do with a blood libel--it is a reference to the hundreds of children killed by the Israeli attack on Gaza, which is a matter of public record and is a recurring theme on his twitter account.

I agree with you, however, that whether his views are sound, mainstream or ridiculous is irrelevant to the legal issues.

Kevin Jon Heller

I find this post baffling. Of course the nature of Salaita's speech is irrelevant to his academic freedom claim. But that doesn't mean Wilson wasn't justified in pointing out that Lubet's characterization of Salaita's speech is profoundly mistaken -- based solely on taking a few tweets out of context and ignoring dozens of others that make clear that Salaita is anti-Israel but not remotely anti-Semitic. (His entire point, ignored by Lubet, being precisely that the two are not synonymous.) Long before the current controversy, for example, Salaita tweeted, "My stand is fundamentally one of acknowledging and countering the horror of antisemitism." And "It's a beautiful thing to see our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world deploring #Israel's brutality in #Gaza." And "Seeing so many Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Hindus join to oppose sectarianism gives me great hope."

Maybe I'm naive, but I think it's possible to simultaneously argue (1) that Salaita is not, in fact, anti-Semitic, and (2) that, from the standpoint of academic freedom, it wouldn't matter if he was. That is all that Wilson was doing. For Lubet to insist otherwise -- and to spend so much time mistakenly arguing that Salaita is an anti-Semite -- simply indicates that Lubet is Salaita's ideological opponent, not simply a defender of his rights.


I agree with Prof. Heller. Prof. Tsesis has adduced no examples of "vitriolic falsehoods," but he has adduced tweets about matters which admit of different interpretation. Members of the Knesset have called for ethnic cleansing, as Prof. Tsesis presumably knows; even as benign a mainstream news source as Andrew Sullivan has noticed: Prof. Tsesis does not cite a "reputable source" about Hamas's use of human shields. And so on. But even if they were vitriolic falsehoods they would not justify the unilateral termination of Salaita's appointment by the Chancellor.

In any case, it is clear that Prof. Tsesis, like Prof. Lubet, is an ideological opponent of Salaita but, unlike Prof. Lubet, thinks that ideology justifies violating Salaita's constitutional and contractual rights. That's disgraceful in my view.


I don't support terrorism - and by the way I do not see that one cannot support Israel's continued existence and at the same time be very critical of Israeli policy.

But comments like Alexander Tsesis, that are so ignorant of history are deeply annoying.

First, Hamas' creation was sponsored by the Israelis - Hamas was sponsored with the intent to split the Palestinians between the largely secular and left wing PLO and a religious movement. As a strategy it has been a disaster, but only a fool forgets that 20 odd years ago people like Netanyahu adored Hamas.

Second, Israel's current existence is the result of a terrorist campaign waged with disgusting ruthlessness by Lehi, the Stern Gang and the Irgun. Lehi notably in 1940-42 repeatedly approached the Nazis offering an alliance. Lehi, the Stern Gang and the Irgun speciality was the bombing of Arab market places killing large numbers of civilians, trains, railway stations etc. (asking to bombing buses). Famously the Irgun blew up the King David hotel killing mostly civilians, the largest terrorist bombing until the Oklahoma City bomb. When Irgun members were captured it took two British army sear grants, birth veterans of the war against the Nazis hostage, then murdered them, hung their disembowled bodies in an orchard in Netanyahu, stuffed with explosives and a booby trap. The latter operation was order and directed by Menacham Begin, founder of Likud, while Yitzak Shamir was in Lehi and the Strern Gang. The also murdered the UN representative Count Bernadotte.

3. The Likud is a direct descendant of Lehi, the Stern Gang and the Irgun. Israel since 1980 gives former members of these organization a campaign ribbon. Netanyahu as prime minster caused a diplomatic incident by unveiling a plaque celebrating the King David hotel bombing. Begin and Shamir were both Israeli prime ministers. Both addressed the UN though both were involved in Bernadotte's murder.

It is profoundly ignorant to ignore the harsh reality that Israel is a state which was founded using mostly the same sort of terrorist behaviors that the PLO and Hamas are criticized for. I am utterly opposed to terrorism, but face it - for the Israelis it worked. How can someone ignore that hard reality when criticizing Hamas - how can they ignore that the victims of Begin and Shamir's acts of terrorism have been obliged to receive them as prime minister - or put up with Netanyahu who celebrates these acts.

Anyone who wants to make the sort of points that Tsesis makes needs to deal with these issues and contradictions.

Alexander Tsesis

What strikes me about Salaita’s posts is how supportive they are of Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization. He is not obscure about this. If you look through his statements, he believes the PA is pro-Zionist, which is dubious in itself, and regards Hamas as being the true voice of Palestinian freedom. His posts are meant to exonerate Hamas for putting civilians in danger. He further downplays Hamas armaments, which can reach deep into Israel, as firecrackers (Salaita’s tweet: “I’m pretty sure anybody can buy those Hamas rockets at nearly every interstate exit in South Carolina.”).

What’s more, Salaita’s tweets are just false and misleading. For instance: 1) “Members of the Knnesset routinely call for the elimination of Palestinians.” This is coming from Salaita’s imagination. 2) “Israel is rounding up people and murdering them at point-blank range.” The word “genocide” is more germane the more news we hear.” This is just nonsense. Israel has not made a ground offensive, therefore not rounded up people. I think the implication is that like the Nazis, Hutus, and Khmer Rouge the Israelis round up people and commit, in Salaita’s words, “genocide.” But that’s just absurd given that Israel has warned civilians to leave during the course of fighting. And that’s not to mention that there simply have been no round-ups followed by any sort of executions. 3) Then there’s this factually false tweet: “Not a single reputable source has validated Israel’s claim about Hamas using civilians, children particularly, as human shields in Gaza.” Well we know that Hamas leadership is hiding under Shifa hospital, with hundreds of ill Palestinians above them. And that’s just one example of using Palestinians as human shields. There are also multiple photos of this on the net (see videos below story here, and of course Israeli soldier reports provide more on the ground narratives. The Wall Street Journal published photos Hamas spokesman Mushir Al Masri being interviewed in a hospital. New Delhi Television’s Sreenivasan Jain video taped rockets fired from civilian centers. The Israeli army found a copy of Hamas’s operational manual with instructions for exploiting civilian deaths. U.S., British, and French government officials have intelligence to the same effect that they speak about on tape. 4) In another tweet Salaita compares Gaza tunnels with Warsaw Ghetto tunnels, but that demonstrates a tremendous ignorance, given that the latter was a response to the rounding up of Jews for sending them to death camps and any comparison of that to terror tunnels is (at the very least) absurdly hyperbolic or (at most) inciteful.

My point is that no reputable professor should spread vitriolic falsehood, nor should a University be under the obligation to hire or retain a supporter of an organization recognized throughout the democratic world to be a terrorist entity committed to the total annihilation of Jews (


Brian: "Members of the Knesset have called for ethnic cleansing,..."

Unexpelled members; Arab representatives who don't play Stepin' Fetchitt are expelled.

That means that the Knesset supports ethnic cleansing.

Alex Tsesis

I have little time to respond. There are just too many factual mistakes in MacK's post to address them all in the short time I have. The easiest one is to claim that Hamas was a creation of Israel. No they were an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. It's true that Israel hoped that Hamas would reduce support for the PLO but that's very different from MacK's claim, which reads something like those who claim that the Jews supported the Nazis so they could financially benefit from WWII.


Yes, I do think it legitimate to deny an academic contract to people who support organizations that overtly call for the extermination of all Jews, just as I would believe it legitimate for a Chancellor to reject a supporter of black slavery, the disfranchisement of women, or the unequal treatment of gypsies. In my post I cited to the Wall Street Journal, New Delhi Television, and World News, all of which seem reputable to me. Hamas's leaderships' hiding under the hospital has been widely reported by many news outlets.

Kevin Jon Heller

Well, at least Prof. Tsesis openly admits that he does not, in fact, believe in academic freedom. I admire his honesty.


To my intense shock I find myself agreeing with Brian...

I know people (and knew, a few are deceased), Israeli, US (Bush, Reagan and Clinton admins) and EU, who dealt directly with Netanyahu. All described him in sulphurous terms - regarded him as totally untrustworthy, and profoundly inimical to the interests of Israel and the US. Most noted his compulsive mendacity. A couple went so far as to describe bizarre high level meetings with him, where he simply flat lied to a level that his audience was silenced (calling him out would be an incident.) No one in the EU (UK, France, Germany, etc.) or in the US establishment (or ex Clinton/Bush/Reagan admins trusts him - by now Obama's people agree)

Negotiations require an interlocutor that the other party can establish trust in - no one, Israeli, US, European or Palestinian with any experience trusts Netanyahu.

My typos are due to using a small device with weird autocorrect

Kevin Jon Heller

That said, it's remarkably tiresome to hear scholars, who should know better, spout ahistorical platitudes like Hamas is "a terrorist entity committed to the total annihilation of Jews." In 1988, perhaps. But not today, after free and fair democratic elections that should have brought Hamas to power throughout the state of Palestine. (The anti-democratic 2007 civil war relegating Hamas to control of Gaza.) It's funny how scholars who love quoting the 1988 Charter conveniently fail to mention the 2006 election manifesto, in which Hamas abandoned its call for the destruction of Israel and stated its acceptance of a two-state solution based on 1967 borders. As Bar-Ilan University's Menachem Klein has pointed out, "The differences between the party’s platform and the Islamic Charter do not represent an attempt at deception or the empty and unconsidered use of words. They are a product of a change and modification of lines of thought as a part of the process by which Hamas has become a political movement.”


Tsesis, you cannot respond because what I said was true

Can you deny Lehi's efforts to form an alliance with the Nazis? Answer - is it true or not - and answer that before you start anything else.

Can you deny Lehi and the Stern Gang - and Irgun's attack on ordinary markets, killing civilian Arab shoppers?

Can you deny the King David Hotel Bombing?

Can you deny the sergeants affairs, their being taken hostage, the booby trapping of their bodies?

Do you deny attacks on trains and railway stations that killed civilians?

Do you deny that Yitzak Shamir was in Lehi, the Sterng Gang and the Irgun?

Do you deny that Menachem Begin was in Irgun?

Do you deny Shamir and Sharon were prime ministers?

Do you deny the campaign ribbon for membership in these terrorist groups?

Do you deny that Likud came out of the Lehi/Stern gang/Irgun?

Do you deny that they killed Bernadotte?

Do you deny that Netanyahu did erect a plaque commemorating the King Divid Hotel bombing?

I mean, deny a specific fact - or accept that you are a propagandist - or that you just think hey, that's alright, Palestinian civilians don't count as human...


By the way, Tsesis, nice try on suggesting I'm an anti-semite "which reads something like those who claim that the Jews supported the Nazis so they could financially benefit from WWII"

Why don't you resign you tenure and see if it gets restored.

As for the point you made _dishonestly - and the idea you ascribed to me. Let's be clear - many wealth Germans made financial contributions to the Nazis - including Fritz Thyssen, then Germany's wealthiest man - definitely not Jewish - who after he fled the Nazi's in 1939 was known to say "“'Ein Dummkopf war ich!" or "what an idiot I was"

Now an anti-Semite, might make a big deal of noting that among the big business backers of the NSDAP were probably a few who were ethnically Jewish - others might point out that Hitler's life was saved by Jewish officers including line officers and doctors in WW I when he was a lance-corporal. No one with any intelligence regards that detail as anything other than an ironic reference to people doing what they do - officers saving their men, medical officers treating those wounded, rich businessmen backing politicians they think might serve their interests. It takes an anti-Semite to make an issue of it. Are you one? You certainly seem to think it is of enormous significance that some of those (but not many) who backed the Nazi party were German-Jewish ethnicity. I just think they were being dumkopfen like Thyssen. But then, you seem to think it matters....

Now I think that the Likud party is descended from terrorist groups and still glorifies them matters. I think that at least one of those groups was very determined to make an alliance with the Nazis (despite being rebuffed twice) is an interesting display of "my enemy's enemy is my friend" even when that enemy is fighting a party and state dedicated to exterminating Jews, Gypsies and ultimately Slavs (something Eastern European neo-Nazis ought to think about.) I also think it is very very hard to argue that the Palestinians should ignore the tactics that worked for the nascent Israel. Finally, yes, Mossad and the Israelis did back Hamas and indeed several other Muslim fundamentalist groups (which by the way may have included the Muslim brotherhood against Nasser and Sadat) because of a half assed belief that theocratic parties would undermine the secular left wing parties that Israel saw as a threat. That was a major goof - but it is true and not a secret. Oh, and before you argue with that, answer my questions - all of them.... bet you won't....

For some of the history on Israel's backing and creation of Hamas see the Wall Street Journal (very pro-Israel by the way)

A few clippings:

Surveying the wreckage of a neighbor's bungalow hit by a Palestinian rocket, retired Israeli official Avner Cohen traces the missile's trajectory back to an "enormous, stupid mistake" made 30 years ago.

"Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel's creation," says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel's destruction.

Instead of trying to curb Gaza's Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat's Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas. Sheikh Yassin continues to inspire militants today


When Israel first encountered Islamists in Gaza in the 1970s and '80s, they seemed focused on studying the Quran, not on confrontation with Israel. The Israeli government officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called Mujama Al-Islamiya, registering the group as a charity. It allowed Mujama members to set up an Islamic university and build mosques, clubs and schools. Crucially, Israel often stood aside when the Islamists and their secular left-wing Palestinian rivals battled, sometimes violently, for influence in both Gaza and the West Bank.

"When I look back at the chain of events I think we made a mistake," says David Hacham, who worked in Gaza in the late 1980s and early '90s as an Arab-affairs expert in the Israeli military. "But at the time nobody thought about the possible results."

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Thank you Kevin (Professor Heller). It is even doubtful that Hamas, as a social movement, was ever committed to the "total annihilation of Jews" given that the Charter itself was never debated, discussed, or formally approved by Hamas. Whatever significance it had, was gradually lost in the exigencies of a more pragmatic political orientation and more conventional nationalist liberation strategy (one in which the resort to acts of terrorism decreased over time, recalling as well that Hamas has not been able to control more radicalized Salafist/Jihadist groups in Gaza whose distinguishing feature, unlike Hamas, remain acts of terrorism). About four years ago, I argued for the significance for the following propositions in a blog post:

1. Respected researchers in and outside Israel have thoroughly documented and explained how "Hamas is neither anti-modern or anti-democratic, nor inherently anti-Western."
2. Hamas recognizes the significance and relative authority of popular mandates.
3. Like other rational collective actors, Hamas has historically been open and responsive to contractualist or quid pro quo bargaining and negotiations with the state of Israel, to which Israel has repeatedly responded with disdain and dismissal, topped off with on ongoing assassination campaign of its key leaders.
4. Hamas’ ability to inflict violence is an important source of its political authority (recall that States are frequently defined by their de jure or de facto monopoly on the means of violence and that Hamas is fighting for recognition of a right to collective self-determination which, in our time and place, takes the form of a State; moreover, Hamas is free to exercise its 'right of resistance' against the Occupation). "While this capacity for violence provides important symbolic capital for Hamas as a whole, the majority of its political leaders derive the bulk of their authority from other sources—increasing the possibility of a transformation away form violence if Hamas members believe their basic security will be guaranteed through different means."
5. With regard to democratic and especially electoral politics (e.g., the municipal and legislative elections of 2004-2006), Hamas has made cross-ideological alliances and the bulk of its "election manifesto reads like that of any 'secular' political party." As part of their decision to participate in electoral politics Hamas fielded "candidates with political and administrative, rather than paramilitary experience, [which] suggests that it recognizes that political capital in the domestic arena is derived from having non-violent, administrative skills and professional expertise than from a career in the resistance."
6. Hamas has repeatedly demonstrated a "readiness to make alliances, even with those who support a two-state solution and co-existence with Israel," a fact that "further underlines that Hamas is not fanatical and incapable of compromise, but pragmatic."
7. Hamas leaders, notably Khalid Misha’al, have repeatedly stated they would not object to a two-state solution were the terms favorable to the "will of the people" ('During the 2006 election campaign, senior Hamas legislative candidates Hasan Yousef and Muhammad Abu Tair categorized negotiations with Israel concerning a two-state solution as legitimate if they were both "in the interest of the people" and "presented to the new parliament," the embodiment of the popular will.') and their willingness to abide by a long-term hudna or truce (several decades, the terms of which would be renewable), evidences a de facto recognition of the state of Israel. Hamas is hardly prepared to pronounce a de-jure like or principled recognition until such time as Israel is willing to grant the collective right of self-determination to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories (note again the logic of reciprocity).

Finally, it's important to bear in mind Hamas has not been fighting for a "Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood state" or a new Islamic Caliphate, but a democratic Palestinian state which gives expression to the desires and dreams of the Palestinians (a reading of their political platform from the 2006 elections and other official statements makes this clear). One need not agree with what this or that member of Hamas says or does to appreciate whatever positive contributions they make to resisting Israeli oppression and fighting for collective self-determination. In any case, empirical evidence exists that Islamist groups and movements that are given political opportunities previously denied them leads to their "de-radicalization" (and Hamas is nothing like the radical Salafist groups and movements that threaten Hamas). Continued oppression or attempts to eliminate them more often backfire if not lead to deeper and wider radicalization: See, for example, Omar Ashour, The De-Radicalization of Jihadists: Transforming armed Islamist movements (Routledge, 2009), and numerous articles by Scott Atran, or his book, Talking to the Enemy: Religion, Brotherhood, and the (Un-)Making of Terrorists (HarperCollins, 2010).

Among the better works on Hamas:

Caridi, Paola. Hamas: From Resistance to Government. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2012.

Gunning, Jeroen. Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

Mishal, Shaul and Avraham Sela. The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Roy, Sara. Hamas and Civil Society: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011.

Tamimi, Azzam. Hamas: A History from Within. Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press/Interlink, 2007.

There is also an excellent chapter on Hamas in Michael Bröning's The Politics of Change in Palestine: State-Building and Nonviolent Resistance. London: Pluto Press, 2011.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

One more point: an important historical lesson as well as a principal theoretical argument made by Wendy Pearlman in her book Violence, Nonviolence and the Palestinian National Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2011), is that social movement cohesion in the quest for national self-determination depends on the combination of strong leadership, robust institutions, and clear collective purpose. This cohesion is what allows for the myriad forms of nonviolent social protest and resistance, while the converse, as both cause and product of movement fragmentation, increases the likelihood of the resort to violence and renders dismal if not impossible the prospects for a turn to nonviolent strategies and tactics. Thus the (largely successful) attempt by the U.S. and its allies to undermine Hamas after its electoral success in 2006 and the efforts to thwart its participation in a "national unity" government (or governance), together with Israel's repeated "targeted killings" of Hamas leaders (apart from the usual means of repression common to its rule of the Occupied Territories), serves predictably to initiate repeated cycles of violence and decreases the likelihood that Hamas will rely largely on legal and nonviolent strategies in its quest for national self-determination free of Zionist control (as it eliminates leaders, weakens or destroys incipient or existing institutional structures, and subverts the articulation and propagation of clear collective purpose, as outside and inside forces come to trump the movement's own efforts).


Well, one good thing about this debate.

To wit:

"[F]rom the standpoint of academic freedom, it wouldn't matter if ... Salaita is ... in fact, anti-Semitic."

The number of persons sharing their agreement with this benign and ever so laudable view is illuminating. What brave souls! So principled in the defense of "academic freedom." The righteous indignation is so refreshing. So appropriate!

In this case, the public will probably ignore these comments (as the target is Israel). The press won't notice, because the target is Israel.

Significantly, however, we now know (supposedly) who would support a Grand Wizard of the KKK and welcome him in legal academia (provided, of course, that he does not disclose his identity until hired). At least, that is what some would have us believe.

Let's see what happens when the target is a favored group.

Kevin Jon Heller


(And I note how you hide behind anonymity, unlike some of us who attach our names to our beliefs.)

You want to know what happens when the target is a favoured group? Well, those of us with principles don't alter them. I'm Jewish; my family is from Poland and Russia; and I wrote a long book on war-crimes trials that focused on the Holocaust. Yet somehow I have managed to continue to defend academic freedom and free speech, even -- and especially -- for those whose speech I find the most reprehensible.

As for your silly comparison to a Grand Wizard -- there is obviously a fundamental difference between holding racist ideas and acting upon them, just as there is a fundamental difference between engaging in terrorist acts and expressing sympathy for them. No one would argue academic freedom requires hiring either a Grand Wizard or a terrorist. So you are attacking a strawman -- and quite ineffectually.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

I would add one more distinction (or ‘fundamental difference’) with regard to terrorism: there’s a further distinction between expressing sympathy for terrorist acts and the human and intellectual endeavor to understand the motivation and logic of such acts, although such sympathy and search for understanding may overlap. In the latter case, I may have sympathy (or, what is a bit different, come to a state of empathy) for the person (and his or her cause) who comes to believe in the value and efficacy of a terrorist act but not acts of terrorism as such, wondering instead what might have (under the heading of sociological, political, and personal causal variables) driven a person to believe the resort to terrorism is necessary. In such cases (as in criminal law generally), one distinguishes between the person and the act such that a person is never simply or solely viewed as a “terrorist,” but a human being who has committed a legally prohibited (at least generally speaking) and morally repugnant or abhorrent act. This is perhaps most important in the case of non-State actors who behave without the legal or political veil (of putative legitimacy, legality, necessity...) and overwhelming asymmetrical power provided by the State. And it is especially important when the same actors have legitimate or legally recognized and sanctioned aims or goals (like collective self-determination in the form of a state) that such acts are designed to attain. There is much truth in the proposition that in such cases acts of terrorism are best viewed as acts of desperation.

The quest for understanding here may enable us to affect the set of variables such that the choice of terrorism becomes less likely, say, by altering the socio-economic and political circumstances and situations which tend to be propitious for the emergence of terrorism. In our case, the reductionist portrait of Hamas as simply “terrorists,” apart from being inaccurate or untrue, does nothing toward helping us understand precisely why terrorist acts remain on the menu of political means for social movements and organizations whose ends we might otherwise find sympathy for or endorse. Terrorism has often been a “weapon of the weak,” well-known in the case of the beginnings of Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which later renounced this weapon (as did, for example, the provisional Irish Republican Army)* was As Wendy Pearlman notes, citing an article by Robert A. Pape, “Empirical findings suggest that terrorism has also proved effective, particularly in coercing democracies to relinquish territory.”

In short, those who simply dismiss Hamas as “terrorists” (and thus, perhaps, an appropriate target for elimination) deserving, along with their fellow Gazans in particular or Palestinians generally, everything Israel has viciously visited upon them, contributes nothing whatsoever toward the comprehension and possible resolution of this conflict.

* The renunciation of violence as well, beyond its terrorist form, is what troubled many Palestinians as little if nothing appears to have been achieved in return for this renunciation.


"* The renunciation of violence as well, beyond its terrorist form, is what troubled many Palestinians as little if nothing appears to have been achieved in return for this renunciation. "

The LRB had a couple of excellent articles on this - basically, Hamas clamped down on violence with ~99% effectiveness; Israel continued violence, and obeyed no terms of the agreement.

This, of course, put Hamas in a tight spot. Israel continued to crush the people in Gaza, and all that their leadership had accomplished was to help Israel.


Isn't it great how the Salaita advocates keep separate the merits of the questioned statements from the "academic freedom" to hold and express those views?

Whether Salaita is entitled to his position is PURELY a matter of academic freedom, they say (almost parenthetically while attacking Israel). So principled!

Let's see what happens when the target is a favored group.

And, as for "No one would argue academic freedom requires hiring either a Grand Wizard or a terrorist. So you are attacking a strawman -- and quite ineffectually."

Read the comment above and try to think about what was actually said.

Finally, does one have the "academic freedom" to question your views? One thinks you would not be so generous is such circumstances, based on the tone of your hostile response.

Hence, anonymity.

David Schraub

I came out on this issue in much the same posture as Stephen -- that the Illinois decision violated the principles of academic freedom notwithstanding that Prof. Salaita's tweets were anti-Semitic, and that it was worrisome that folks were defending the tweets as naught but salutary "criticism of Israel".

What I find particularly strange is that, even adopting the frame of Salaita's defenders -- noting that Salaita has publicly declared his opposition to anti-Semitism and accepting the "honorable" tweet as a claim that "Zionists" had so systematically conflated anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel so as to make the label an "honorable" one because it mostly denotes beliefs that are not "really" anti-Semitic -- it still shouldn't be that hard to see the latent anti-Semitism.

While tons of people have engaged in various "what if he was talking about Muslims/Black people/Barack Obama/whomever" hypotheticals, this is an area where we actually do have a pretty prominent parallel template: Plenty of people do (a) state their opposition to racism as an abstract proposition but (b) contend that various prominent elements of the Black community -- albeit not all Black people -- have systematically "played the race card" to contend that innocuous or salutary beliefs or conduct is "racist", and that therefore (c) it is a badge of honor to be called "racist" even as they continue to oppose the "real racism". It is not at all uncommon to hear that position articulated by American conservatives (e.g., here and here).

I don't think we have too much trouble identifying that line of argument as racist -- the speaker's no doubt sincerely held disclaimer that they oppose racism notwithstanding. We recognize it because it (a) accuses large portions of the Black community of either lying or being delusional about their own oppression, and correspondingly arrogates to the non-Black community the sole and ultimate authority to determine what racism "is" (usually either a Klan member actively engaged in a lynching, or that time Joe Biden called Barack Obama "articulate" -- that is, either the most extreme, rabid hatred/violence or more minor wrongs attributable to one's opponents), (b) implicitly strawmans the community as taking an obviously ludicrously broad definition of racism so as to avoid tailored discussion of the racist implications of particular policies, beliefs, or statements in particular contexts (not all criticisms of Obama are racist, but that tells us nothing about whether a particular criticism is), (c) evinces contempt for the perspective of Black people on issues of Black concern and encourages others to disregard it (save for the minority-of-the-minority which endorses the critique -- these persons are accorded superstanding).

Put simply, if one approaches most claims by Black people that something is racist by asserting that most of them are so delusional and/or sociopathic that they're opinion is n't worth listening to (and their anger is probably a badge of honor), that's really hard to square with claiming to hold racially egalitarian beliefs even if one honestly believes oneself to "oppose racism" and values those Black people who do happen to agree with you (as they have every right to do!).

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