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November 26, 2014 1:00 pm

Fired Anti-Israel Professor Receives Standing Ovation at Middle East Studies Conference

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Former University of Illinois professor Steven Salaita. Photo: Twitter.

Former University of Illinois professor Steven Salaita, who lost his job in September over a series of anti-Israel tweets, received a standing ovation from scholars and academics on Saturday at a Middle East Studies conference in Washington, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

“Thank you, everybody. If the Zionists wanted to silence me, they should have just approached people to be nice to me,” Salaita said during a panel discussion, entitled “The Salaita Case and the New Assaults on Academic Freedom.” He added, “Kindness always leaves me much more speechless than war crimes do.”

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fired Salaita after his anti-Israel tweets, which some also deemed anti-Semitic, during the summer’s Gaza war. He accused the Jewish state of genocide and claimed Israel is “rounding up people and murdering them at point-blank range.” The BDS supporter also claimed that Zionists deploy anti-Semitic logic and stated, “If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being.”

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Salaita attributed his firing to “the interference of wealthy donors,” according to the Free Beacon. He said it was “part of the culture wars that have long been ongoing around the Israel-Palestine conflict” and could not be separated from “the organized suppression of those who speak in support of Palestine or Palestinians.”

Salaita suggested during Saturday’s panel discussion that his critics play no legitimate role in academic debate.

“If you support the colonial apparatus in the West Bank and Gaza and inside Israel itself, quite frankly, you don’t get to call yourself progressive,” said the former professor, who is also the author of Israel’s Dead Soul. “I am a critic of the state of Israel, I am a critic of Zionism, I do not shy away from either label. I’m proud to have both of those labels.”

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  • Radschief

    The biggest obstacle that Salaita faces in terms of resurrecting his career is that he doesn’t come across as particularly bright. He also seems to be a black hole in terms of charisma. The simple reality is that his tweets were juvenile in quality, devoid of insight, and indicative of a dark, hateful soul.

    I doubt that any major institution will consider hiring him, though I wish him well in his future career as a Starbucks barrista.

  • DocReality

    Maybe Obama will give make him the Middle-East Czar.

    • DocRealty Obama is not anti Israel. Get your facts right your insinuation lacks deph and sounds accusatory and ignorant.

  • This guy shows why his firing was justified.

    Read Martin Kramer over at Commentary. He has the low down on this celebration of a Jew hater at MESA.

  • jon black

    Salaita was not fired because he was never hired. His offer of employment was contingent on his approval by the University of Illinois board of trustees. Apparently the trustees were not as enamored by this anti-Semite’s views as are his academic cohorts.

    • Carl

      So called “mid-east studies” departments throughout the academic community have become a mouthpiece for the radical Arab states that fund them. Even elite schools like Harvard are willing to sacrifice truth and honesty in pursuit of Arab blood-money. Is it any wonder this guys cohorts adore him?

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