Steven Salaita and the racist ghost of Edward Said

by Joshua Muravchik
September 13, 2014

The hottest flap in American academia this semester revolves around the decision of the chancellor of the University of Illinois to block the appointment of Steven Salaita to a tenured professorship on the grounds of his comments on Twitter during this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas. The chancellor drew a distinction between free speech and “disrespectful words . . .that demean and abuse.”

Salaita’s offending torrent of tweets began with the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in June. “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not,” wrote Salaita. “I wish all the fucking West Bank settlers would go missing.” Then, during the fighting, he poured forth an endless stream of accusations that Israel was committing “genocide” and that America was under the control of Israel. “Israel slaps around the USA, and all [Republicans] do is ask for more,” said one. “Redneck . . . slogan . . . Gaza is a disaster but Netanyahu is my master,” said another. A third read: “Israel’s message to Obama and Kerry: we’ll kill as many Palestinians as we want, when we want. p.s.: fuck you, pay me.”

If the theme of Israeli control of the United States carried a whiff of anti-Semitism, the aroma wafted even stronger from Salaita’s Goodreads review (spotted by David Bernstein) of Abraham Foxman’s 2009 book, The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control. Salaita quipped “It has to be one of the few books ever published in which the author’s body of work so adeptly undermines his thesis.” Although the syntax is garbled, Salaita’s meaning was clear: the work of the Anti-Defamation League, to which Foxman has devoted his career, proves the reality of Jewish control. If this Jew-baiting was thinly veiled, Salaita dropped all compunction this summer when he tweeted: “Zionists: transforming ‘antisemitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”……


This entry was posted in Israel & Middle East, Jewish, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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