Can’t discuss Palestine on campus? Then disaffiliate.

Note: In addition to all that Steven Salaita recommends here, USACBI encourages professors who are tenured to add any articles they write on Palestine to their cvs and/or promotion/merit files. In this way, we make our administrations and colleagues get used to having to evaluate such work and accept it as legitimate academic or public scholarship.  We may thus set a precedent for more vulnerable scholars coming after us whose work might otherwise be deemed unacceptable.

About Steven Salaita: Steven Salaita’s most recent book is Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine.

It’s an old story: a scholar criticizes Israel (harshly or haltingly, it doesn’t really matter).  In many cases, nobody pays attention.  Sometimes, though, pro-Israel groups catch wind of the offense, at which point any number of things can happen:  sanctimony, abuse, outrage, blacklisting, ostracism.

Academic employers compound these unpleasantries by encouraging the mob.  Their encouragement isn’t always explicit, but it’s evident if only through inference.  Administrators rarely defend aggrieved professors on the grounds of academic freedom, an abdication of their professional responsibility.  And they never support the substance of anti-Zionist speech.  Even one-dimensional thinkers who send angry emails to strangers understand that administrative reticence signifies tacit agreement, or at least a lack of concern with harassment (whose racist, sexist, and homophobic content can be brutal).

In turn, scholars who criticize Israel often abridge their biographies or add disclaimers that absolve employers of responsibility for controversial opinions.  Doing so doesn’t necessarily fend off punishment, but it’s still a wise move.  There’s no need to give administrators more excuses to pester anti-Zionists.

Read more: Can’t discuss Palestine on campus? Then disaffiliate.

 

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