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September 23, 2014


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Respectfully, your analysis seems very narrow, and your conclusion seems incongruous with the analysis. How is it that 17 emails from people who chose to identify themselves as past or prospective donors not significant? That is all the professor seems to be saying.

Steven Lubet

Anon: I have deleted your comment because was insulting to Prof. Cicala. Although I suspect that you wanted only to make a general observation, you appeared to cross our civility line. Perhaps you will want to try again.


Howard Wasserman

It really is how you count it. Nine referred to donor status. But is mentioning donor status a threat with respect to money? This is kind of broad, since every alumnus and every student is a potential donor. So it arguably is only eight who explicitly linked future donations to the current decisionmaking.

But what Steve is describing is a common approach anytime some decision is made that someone disagrees with--money, and not honest ideas, must have prevailed. The loser of almost every election points out that how much money the winner spent. And we're seeing the same thing here-it was the money, not principles or ideas.


It is indeed how you count it. If you look at monetary amounts rather than number of emails (regardless of whether they mention donor status), then it is probably relevant that one of the self-identified donors had given substantially (>$500k) in the past. See


My comment was this.

A ancient calumny against Jews, going back to the Rothchilds, no, going back to the moneychangers, is that all Jews are rich, and that, with their wealth, they buy influence.

But, more than that, as a prestigious actor once explained, Jews are also supposedly up to no good with their money (they have started, he said, all wars). That notion, that Jews started WWI, became a rationale for their extermination in the 1940s. It continues today with talk of the "Jewish lobby" fomenting war to make money. It is an age old canard used to smear Jews.

In fact, there is Jew hate in Asia, for precisely the wide spread belief that "Jewish bankers" conspire to undermine the economies there.

So, we come to this situation, and we hear that "money" was the deciding factor. But, this cannot be logically true, because "money" (and prestige) was at stake on both sides of the debate. Moreover, as noted by Lubet, it is implausible that the President, Chancellor and entire Board of Trustees (save one) were so unscrupulous as to be so swayed by purely pecuniary interest.

What makes this accusation resonate, in my view, is the age old and tired calumny described above. Many may believe that money played a major role for reasons other than Jew Hate.

But, many may believe money played a big role because it is easier to so believe when the influence of rich Jews is evoked.


Steven, please delete this latest 'anon' as well.

(frankly, if every 'anon' on legal blogs was to develop carpal tunnel, the world would be better off).


Barry is a much better alias! Not.

Barry's comment should be deleted, Steve.

Totally off topic personal attack.

Daniel Hatfield

On the contrary, I believe your conclusion is quite spot on. I think the professors need more training. LOL

Jonah Gelbach

Phyllis Wise: "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."

Steve Lubet: "Perhaps because he is an economist, Cicala seems fixated on the presumed impact of money on Wise’s (and the trustees’) decision."

More Steve Lubet: "Being a law professor rather than an economist, I thought I would take a look at the empirical evidence, instead of relying on a model."

Would Steve Lubet meet Chancellor Wise's requirement not to use "personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them"?

In answering that question, consider that Professor Cicala's forthcoming publication, "When Does Regulation Distort Costs? Lessons from Fuel Procurement in U.S. Electricity Generation," is an *empirical* paper. I found this out by going to Professor Cicala's website, clicking on a link to his CV, and clicking on a link to the paper. For any who are interested, it's here:

I suppose it's a fun tagline to suggest that economists don't "look at empirical evidence." But it's also an obviously false statement, and one that makes Lubet look ridiculous. (Oops, there goes *my* chance to teach at UIUC.)

tony smith

You are criticizing someone for lack of evidence, but you present the most an argument based on nameless and faceless evidence. Donors and alumni are not the same. Also, the tone of emails are never identical (if so, we should be able to judge that). I would love to see the names of the donors and the extent to which they have power inside the university. Also, emails are NOT the only source of information regarding this issue. You questioned Ciala as an economist - but you teach Trial Advocacy. Evidence is important in Law and Economics.

tony smith

Not insulting: "Being a law professor rather than an economist, I thought I would take a look at the empirical evidence, instead of relying on a model."


tony smith

Jonah: They only tolerate fraudulent US News reporting.....until busted, of course.

Kevin Jon Heller

How do you know an argument is weak and flailing for support? When it invokes that wonderful old canard, "ignore the evidence, one of the people involved is a "person of absolute unquestioned integrity."

Kevin Jon Heller

How do you know an argument is weak and flailing for support? When it grossly mischaracterizes allegations that the University of Illinois was influenced by pressure from donors, at least one very significant, as arguing that "the trustees were bought off."

You'd think a trial advocacy professor would avoid improperly characterizing arguments. Or perhaps that's just good trial advocacy when your position is weak and flailing for support.

Kevin Jon Heller

And really, Lubet continues to embarrass himself by continuing to mischaracterize-- clearly wilfully, at this point -- one of Salaita's tweets as involving the "reinvention of ancient blood libels." Though the "reinvention" line is nice, given that it subtly admits what Salaita said bore little resemblance to any kind of ancient blood libel (and was directed at Israel's Prime Minister, not at Jews).

When one's argument is weak and flailing for support, I guess wilful mischaracterization is all that's left.

Steven Lubet

KJH: I would ordinarily delete a post that accuses someone of willful mischaracterization, but I am leaving yours up for two reasons: First, I generally do not delete posts that criticize me (as opposed to others); I have a thick skin. More important, this provides me with an opportunity to explain why you are wrong.

You say that Salaita's tweets "bore little resemblance to any kind of ancient blood libel." How much resemblance do you need? As it happens, blood libels took many forms -- accusations of stabbing, throat cutting, and drowning, for example. The common thread was ritual child murder.

Get that, ritual child murder. What is the point of imagining a "necklace of children's teeth" other than as a ritual based on dead children? Hence, reinvention of an ancient charge. (That is not the only one, btw. Another tweet charged "sublimation through bloodletting, a common perversion.)

Now, it would be fair to disagree with me. Perhaps Salaita was referring to a non-ritual use of children's teeth in some sort of metaphor with which I am unfamiliar. I doubt it, but that would be a respectable argument.

Accusing me of willful mischaracterization, however, is simply an ad hominem attack. You have done that before. You should stop.



The University of Illinois was influenced by pressure from donors, at least one very significant, but the "the trustees were [not] bought off."

Yes. We see now. Very different accusations.

Re: the debate between the comments on every thread by Lubet about the comments, and the censorship, let's stop pretending that comments that "accuse" others are not allowed. Such comments are allowed, and Steve, you should generally just let the comments fly absent a very strong reason to censure the speech. "Personal attacks" is a sort of loose standard.

TO be sure, there are some who comment here who love to loose their attacks but whine incessantly when fire is returned. That is, indeed, the nature of this debate.

For example, the fact is that I haven't read a single comment by KJH that was not a personal attack.

KJH seems to have three or four basic arguments on this matter:

A. ON the merits, it would have been beneficial to have hired a tenured prof to accuse Israel of atrocities while totally ignoring the proportionate level of atrocities in other countries surrounding Israel, and the reality that those very same actors engage in constant provocations by attacking civilians (the very "crime" with which KJH accuses Israel);

B. The nature and quality of the arguments in support of these positions is irrelevant and therefore, anyone who made a judgment in this case about the nature and quality of those arguments was an ignorant, malicious fool;

C. It is necessary to berate and belittle anyone who disagrees with the sort of skewed and one sided view of these issues shared by KJH, because this somehow helps to explain the reason for the lack of appointment; and

D. It is clear that the President, Chancellor and Board of Trustees (save one) in this instance were all swayed by money and did not act in good faith on the merits (thus, implicating the "Jewish lobby").

What KJH never does, from what I've seen in these comments, is make a persuasive case about anything.

Instead of attacking others, KJH, why don't you explain, in a cogent and reasoned manner, the evidence that supports your view that the President, Chancellor and Board of Trustees (save one) in this instance were all swayed by money and not the merits.

Light a candle in the darkness, KJH. Stop attacking and let's hear your brilliant analysis.


And, BTW, in characterizing what I perceive to be KJH's arguments above, I certainly do not mean to suggest that he accurately describes the reasons for the decision in this case.

The decision in this case was justified not on the pure and simple Jew hate that was so evident in the statements at issue, although that animus surely motivated, at least in part, the statements at issue.

For one, my hope is that this case gets to a jury. This is a case that will expose the irrational hate and calls for action that are at the heart of this matter, and, in my view, the jurors may ask to award exemplary damages -- against the plaintiff. The supporters who come forward to testify will be embarrassed and shamed. All this is for the good, so, let's hope that case proceeds.

Think not? Then, let's all hope the case goes to trial and doesn't settle. Support the plaintiff!!! Make it easy for him to sue!!!

After all, the plaintiff, a scholar of incomparable brilliance and accomplishment, will be comfortably placed in a tenured position at another high ranking university by then, no? And this case will provide an excellent forum to air his views before a jury.

Kevin Jon Heller

The University of Illinois has somehow managed to lose the critical document concerning pressure on Chancellor Wise by a major donor:

I'm sure it's just an accident, given that -- as Lubet has explained to us -- donor pressure is irrelevant because the University has so much money and at least one of the trustees is a person of "absolute unquestioned integrity."

Kevin Jon Heller

Anon now implies suggesting the University was influenced by donors is tantamount to believing in the Israel Lobby. Good stuff.

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