Boycotting University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Stefanie Botelho's picture
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The latest melee in the academic war zone focused on the Israel/Palestine conflict is taking place at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where Steven Salaita had a written offer for tenured employment in American Indian Studies revoked by Chancellor Phyllis Wise.

The call has now been issued to boycott the university. Since I was invited to give a keynote address at a conference at Illinois in October and also asked to discuss my work with the Program in Jewish Culture and Society while on campus, I want to articulate my reasons for refusing to speak there until Salaita's job offer is re-instated.

While the background and reasons behind Chancellor Wise's decision remain somewhat unclear, it appears that the proximate cause for effectively dismissing Salaita was that in a series of tweets written during Operation Protective Edge, Salaita's outrage was so vehement and hostile that a number of students, alumni, and others believed he crossed the line from criticism of Israel to anti-Semitic discourse.

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