U. of Illinois retracts offer to prof following anti-Israel tweets


(JTA) — The University of Illinois rescinded a job offer to an incoming professor who harshly criticized Israel on Twitter.

Steven Salaita, who was offered a job at the Champaign-Urbana campus in the American Indian studies program, will not be hired, according to a report by the website Inside Higher Education.

The move reportedly was made in response to concerns civility following a series of tweets in which Salaita criticized Israel and supporters of Israel in stark terms. Inside Higher Education cited sources familiar with the university’s decision.

Salaita’s tweets included, “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza.” Another tweet said, “Ever wonder what would happen if the KKK had F-16s and access to a surplus population of minorities? See #Israel and #Gaza.”

Salaita also retweeted this tweet that seemingly advocated the murder of journalist Jeffrey Goldberg: “Jeffrey goldberg’s story should have ended at the pointy end of a shiv.”

According to Inside Higher Education, the university had announced that Salaita would be hired, and Salaita had already resigned his position as an associate professor at Virginia Tech in its English department.

However, University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise reportedly informed Salaita that his appointment would not go to the university’s board of trustees for approval.

A university spokeswoman had stressed faculty members’ right to free speech when asked about Salaita’s tweets, according to The News-Gazette, a local newspaper.

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