On June 12, 2014, three unsuspecting Jewish teens, hitchhiking home to join their families for Sabbath, entered a vehicle driven by two armed Arab terrorists. Minutes later, the three were brutally gunned down but not before one of them managed to access his cellphone and sent message to police of their abduction.
The kidnapping sparked a frantic manhunt for the victims and their attackers. Israeli security forces initiated an intense dragnet, codenamed Operation Brother’s Keeper, and spared no effort to rescue the missing teens. Their dumped bodies were eventually recovered and the Arabs responsible for perpetrating the outrage were either killed while resisting IDF forces or imprisoned.
The Arab terrorist group Hamas, which was responsible for recruiting the terror cell that carried out the murder-kidnapping, then began firing rockets at Israeli civilian areas from the Gaza Strip. In response, Israel initiated Operation Protective Edge, a large-scale military operation aimed at halting the rocket fire and degrading Hamas.
Across the Atlantic, brave internet warriors hiding behind the safety of their keyboards, let loose with a series venomous, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic commentary on social media. Among the worst of the bottom feeders was an academic named Steven Salaita.
On July 20, 2014 Salaita appeared to endorse anti-Semitism by tweeting, “Zionists: transforming ‘antisemitism’ from something horrible to something honorable since 1948.”
In yet another perverse tweet, Salaita appeared to sanction kidnapping and murder by tweeting, “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the f***ing West Bank settlers would go missing.”
Salaita is also fond of the term “Zio-trolls,” a phrase commonly used by neo-Nazis and other fascist fanatics to vilify Jews, often within the context of alleged undue Jewish influence over world affairs and other anti-Semitic canards and conspiracy theories.
Salaita had been slated to begin a tenured faculty position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was to lecture on American-Indian studies. But the conditional offer was rescinded once the university’s chancellor, Phyllis M. Wise, became aware of the depth and breadth of Salaita’s hateful and racist views. U of I’s board of trustees concurred with Chancellor Wise’s opinion and voted to reject Salaita.
Salaita sued, and in an effort to avoid protracted and costly litigation, U of I settled the case paying Salaita $600,000 while his attorneys received an additional $275,000. Salaita however, was unable to find gainful employment in the United States and traveled to Lebanon where he was offered a faculty position at the American University of Beirut. His association with the American University of Beirut was short-lived and by August 2017, Salaita was out of a job again.
Salaita now whines that he’s become an outcast due to his criticism of Israel. In a long-winded Facebook post, laced with a combination of self-pity, conspiracy and martyrdom, he complains bitterly that the “Zionists have been work[ing] overtime to incriminate [him],” and as a result, can no longer find employment in academia.
Salaita’s victimhood complex is reminiscent of another virulently anti-Israel (and arguably anti-Semitic) academic whose shoddy scholarship cost him his job. In 2007, Norman Finkelstein, a Hezbollah supporter and denigrator of the Holocaust, was denied tenure at DePaul University, where he taught political science for six years. It was a highly publicized, bruising battle from which neither party remained unscathed but Finkelstein emerged toxic. He bitterly complained that he couldn’t even obtain employment as an adjunct professor and naturally blamed pro-Israel advocates and his political opinions for his academic misfortunes.
In addition to their single-minded, obsessive hatred of Israel and tendency to dabble in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, Salaita and Finkelstein share something else in common; they embody all that is wrong with the current state of academia at many of today’s institutions of higher learning, where the social science and humanities fields have been all but hijacked by fringe, lunatic elements of the radical left.
True, Salaita and Finkelstein are now untouchable pariahs in academia but their rancid political opinions are not the cause of their ostracism. If that were the case, other academics harboring similar pernicious views (and there are many) would have been fired long ago. In fact, universities and colleges have gone to great lengths to protect the rights of professors who peddle in anti-Semitic venom.
At Oberlin College for example, college officials initially defended Joy Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, after she posted blatantly anti-Semitic commentary on social media. She was ultimately fired but it took college officials eight months to terminate her despite the fact that the evidence was categorical.
It is more likely that Salaita and Finkelstein, who have garnered reputations as litigious troublemakers, are toxic because they are simply bad for business. Universities that hire them are cognizant of the fact that they run the demonstrable risk of potential lawsuits should employer-employee interests diverge at some point after hiring.
Nonetheless, the core problem existing within institutions of higher learning, chiefly the hijacking of the social science and humanities fields, persists and remains unaddressed. Universities should never engage in blacklisting simply because an academic maintains views that veer from the mainstream or are otherwise objectionable. Such a policy is an anathema to core principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech.
Nevertheless, under very narrow and limited circumstances, such a course of action is warranted in the interests of maintaining educational integrity.
Failed academics like Salaita and Finkelstein have a long and sordid history of abusive conduct and utilizing their teaching platforms to spread hate and propaganda. Both have exhibited Jew-hatred in the extreme and both have dabbled in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
They have shown no remorse for their misconduct. On the contrary, they continue to blame their misfortunes on Zio or Zionist conspirators. They are more suited to being editors for Der Sturmer and should be far removed from academia. Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of them.