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August 3, 2016 1:58 pm

Oberlin Decision to Suspend Teacher Who Blamed Jews for 9/11 ‘Welcome Step,’ Says Activist Alum

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Oberlin College. Photo: Wikipedia.

Oberlin College. Photo: Wikipedia.

Oberlin College alumni hailed Wednesday’s announcement by their alma mater that a blatantly antisemitic assistant professor had been placed on paid leave until further notice, The Algemeiner has learned, two days after reporting on the outrage surrounding the college’s continued employment of Dr. Joy Karega.

Melissa Landa, of Oberlin Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF) — part of a national network engaged in combating antisemitism and anti-Israel bias on campus — called Karega’s suspension an “appropriate and welcome step.”

“We recognize that the terms of her contract need to be taken into account and, at the same time, agree with the college’s decision not to have her work directly with students, given her problematic views and questionable judgement,” Landa told The Algemeiner, referring to Karega’s posts on social media — among them accusations that Israelis and Jews are behind ISIS, the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 and of controlling the world.

As The Algemeiner reported, last week, Oberlin ACF sent a letter to Board of Trustees Chair Clyde McGregor — who in a March 5 statement called Karega’s posts “antisemitic and abhorrent” — asking for clarification on Karega’s continued employment and the school’s ostensible investigation of her behavior. The letter came as a result of Oberlin’s five-month long silence regarding Karega, Landa told The Algemeiner.

“We are pleased with our efforts and stand by our strategies and decisions,” she said. “Oberlin ACF always maintained a respectful approach and dialogue with the administration — which is why we consistently reached out to the administration before contacting the press. However, it was clear to us that we needed media attention in order to get any kind of response.”

On Wednesday, two days after The Algemeiner requested a response from Oberlin about Karega’s continued employment, a spokesman for the college notified The Algemeiner of its decision to suspend Karega, writing in a statement:

For the past several months, Oberlin College has been considering carefully the grave issues surrounding the antisemitic postings on social media by Oberlin faculty member Dr. Joy Karega.

In March, in consultation with President Marvin Krislov, the Trustees of Oberlin College asked the administration and faculty to ‘challenge the assertion that there is any justification for these repugnant postings.’ The College initiated its faculty governance process to review Dr. Karega’s professional fitness in light of these postings.

The faculty governance process that began thereafter is ongoing, and the Oberlin administration will continue to respect this process as it plays out. Until that process is complete, Dr. Karega has been placed on paid leave and will not teach at Oberlin.

In recognition of the sensitivity of this review process and the privacy of the individuals involved, we will have no other comment until the conclusion of the process.

Though, as of press time, Karega was still listed as an instructor in Oberlin’s 2016-2017 course catalog, The Algemeiner was informed that arrangements are being made by the school to find substitutes to cover her teaching and advising responsibilities.

As reported by The Algemeiner in March, it was first revealed by The Tower that Karega’s Facebook page was riddled with years’ worth of posts — that have subsequently been deleted — invoking traditional antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories found in the notorious forgery the Protocols of the Elder of Zion.

In one January 2015 post, following the infamous Charlie Hebdo murders, Karega shared an image of an ISIS terrorist disguised as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — with a Star of David tattoo on his arm and the acronym JSIL, a slur used to compare Israel to the Islamic State. The caption accompanying the image implies the attack was a “false flag” aimed at halting French support for Palestinians.

In March 2015, Karega shared a blog post with an embedded video of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. In the video, Farrakhan says, “It is now becoming apparent that there were many Israeli and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attack.” Karega wrote, “Farrakhan is truth-telling in this video.”

Landa said that Oberlin’s decision conveys an important message to professors.

As educators, their task is to teach students to think critically, to consider all perspectives and to challenge bias and racism in all its forms, including antisemitism,” she said. “Today, given the prevalence of social media, professors have an additional responsibility to recognize that what they post is going to be seen by students. Particularly in Karega’s case, she made her posts public.” 

If a professor “is unable to separate out personal biases from teaching, so that all students can feel safe and respected, then he or she shouldn’t be teaching. Racism cannot be relativized,” Landa said, adding that it is “unacceptable” of Karega “to devote her life’s work to combating racism, while simultaneously espousing Jew-hatred. Hate is hate.”

Though Karega will not actively be teaching at Oberlin, Landa said, her alumni group remains “concerned about the bigger picture, including the circumstances surrounding which she was hired; the impact that she has already had on Oberlin students; and faculty members who have been vocal in supporting her. We believe that these larger issues still need to be addressed.”

However, she added, “We thank the Oberlin faculty members who are speaking out against antisemitism.”

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  • Milla

    It should be an exodus of Jewish students from Oberlin. Vote with your wallets!

  • Stuart Kaufman

    Her comments must be unimaginably abhorrent if they could move a place like Oberlin to suspend her. I am glad to see this beginning. Let’s see if Oberlin follows up with a reinstatement of the principles of civil discoourse on campus. For too long Oberlin has been a haven for Jew haters.

  • barbara strudler

    First, many thanks to Ms. Melissa Landa and the Oberlin Alums for Campus Fairness and to The Algemeiner for their efforts in bringing this measure of justice in the case of the disgraceful, shabby Joy Karega.

    Just imagine the fantasies that must slither around in
    Karega’s mind. Now she has time and income to glut herself on them full time and post more poison.

    To Joy Karega and others who fantasize as she does: hate
    hurts you. You don’t owe it to anyone to hate. Besides, it reveals your jealousy of the Jewish people; you wonder how we’ve survived as a moral nation concerned for the physical and spiritual welfare of all peoples. You begrudge us everything. It’s a puerile, ugly display, and
    just for your own sake, you don’t have to persist in it.

  • Chris Rettenmoser

    Fire that bastard !!!!!

  • ZG

    She should be fired yesterday!!!!

  • Inky

    The board and president have carefully and thoughtfully done what’s in the best interests of all of the school’s faculty and students. This hate-mongering professor is clearly not mentally stable and she needed to have her public platform taken away. Hate speech, bigotry, and racial or ethnic stereotyping have no place in civil society, and especially not in an educational institution. The college, instead of responding with a knee-jerk termination, has provided a teaching moment for our entire country. Bravo!

  • ricardo

    Paid leave? I’d LOVE to get paid leave. If her contract requires paid leave, that could only be on certain conditions unless the attorneys who created those contracts are totally inept. Well, that could well be a possibility, but even so…
    Isn’t the inability to adhere to standards of accuracy the antithesis of education? Even when science is wrong, one must teach science with deference to prevailing knowledge while suggesting that newer understandings may arise. Squishy fields like the humanities suffer from a lot less rigor, but teaching “facts” which fly in the face of demonstrable evidence are at least a consideration for an incompetence hearing. We don’t want to shut down creative thought. But we don’t want to foster ineptitude. Finding a good line between those two divergent but somewhat analogous activities is difficult. But I would hope that academic authorities would vigorously pursue the quest.

  • HP Ben Zion

    Now it is time to fire the ‘professor’. The President or Board of Trustees of Oberlin may have this power. In the USA, when speech borders on inciting hate and violence, it is not free speech.

  • nat cheiman

    Turf her out of America

  • good job!!! keep it up!

  • Ani

    Too little too late. Better than nothing, but sad that Oberlin did nothing til it was publicly shamed. I know that had this been the reverse; a white Jewish prof displaying extreme racist views on blacks that were made publicly and acting in a manner such that black students were caused distress, she would have long been gone. Why is it acceptable to do this to Jews?

  • Jane

    Kudos to the group that kept the pressure on Oberlin. I wrote 2 letters to people I know in the Oberlin admissions office; no response at all. Yes, the circumstances of Karega’s hiring need to be investigated. How does an educational institution, of all places, hire a person who believes and spreads lies?

  • PAID leave? Oi – we should all act so lucratively shameful!

  • Art frank

    What. Makes this vile woman tick? What caused her brain to
    Become diseased with Jew hatred? And why was she not
    Terminated when she first spewed her hatred?


    It’s about damn time. And why is it paid leave? Let her go find a job in Pakistan or Afghanistan. She might benefit from experiencing their brand of freedom of speech. I am so fed up with this stuff being allowed to go on. Again, I say, if you are an alumni of Harvard, Yale, University of California—any of the places where overt antisemitism is happening—and you are sending them money or sending your children to be educated there, stop immediately. Nothing speaks to these people like cutting off their cash flow.

  • Milhouse

    So she’s being rewarded with a paid vacation.

    • Lillian

      It really is a paid vacation. Why would she/he/it be rewarded so well. Please FIRE HER.

  • sam cohen

    Why not just can her! Also stop funding Oberlin!

  • What took them so long.

    To hell with her and Jews should and must learn to become tough and protect themselves from people like her.

    I am embarrassed that I ever put my life in jeopardy for these people who have no respect for the Jews.

  • Lia

    Miss Landa, you sound to me like the sort of person who should be on staff at Oberlin: truthful, fluent and aware of what happens around you.I wait with bated breath to hear a report on the vocal faculty supporters of Dr Karego, and to hear from previous students how deep the damage goes that she inflicted for so long. Meantime, much thanks for your openness and honesty. May you really go far and be an example to others.

  • Jay

    Suspension is not enough. Fire her.

  • “Paid Leave” ?? It’s all just words. Bigots getting money without work is just fine with them. Oberlin is cutting off it’s own nose to spite Jewish faces.

  • Yaakov

    I recall from ages ago that when a movie was shown on my college campus and a character in the movie was heard to utter a racist slur, there would be hushed silence. However, if an anti-Jewish slur was made, it would be followed by uproarious laughter from the audience. Jew-hatred has never been taken seriously.