When you think higher education in the United States, chances are you don’t think “pro-Israel.”
In fact, according to recent polling data from Gallup and the Pew Research Center, it has become popular among the 18- to 30-year-old demographic to stake out a position against Israel, siding instead with Hamas.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise to hear that a professor, Steven Salaita, reportedly lost his position at University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana’s American Indian studies program over a series of anti-Israel tweets.
Indeed, considering some of the stuff that is said about Israel on America’s campuses, the claim that Salaita was dismissed for his relatively less offensive tweets is definitely surprising.
“The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza,” Inside Higher Ed reported. “While many academics at Illinois and elsewhere are deeply critical of Israel, Salaita’s tweets have struck some as crossing a line into uncivil behavior.”
Salaita had only recently left his position at Virginia Tech to teach Illinois, where his right to speak (or tweet) freely was initially defended by school officials.
“Faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees,” said a university spokesperson.
However, according to one Illinois professor, the university felt that Salaita's tweets crossed over into uncivil territory, prompting school officials rethink their new hire.
“If the tweets were in fact responsible for the revocation of the offer, it would be the second high-profile dustup over social media within the academic world, after Kansas University Professor David Guth was put on leave last fall following a tweet blaming the NRA for the Navy Yard shooting,” Mediaite notes.
Here’s a sample of the tweets that supposedly landed Salaita in hot water:
Republicans are such tough guys, eager to kill 4 God and country. #Israel slaps around the US of A, though, and all they do is ask for more.— Steven Salaita (@stevesalaita) August 2, 2014
Well, he seems like a pleasant fellow.