UPDATED: Soon-to-be UI prof's Mideast posts drawing ire
UPDATE: According to a blog post on Inside Higher Ed, Steven Salaita won't be teaching at the University of Illinois.
Campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler on Wednesday morning said she would not comment on Salaita's employment status, saying "it's a personnel matter."
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CHAMPAIGN — An incoming University of Illinois professor has drawn the ire of a conservative website after posting angry commentary on Twitter about Israel's ground invasion of the Gaza Strip in recent days.
Steven Salaita, an English professor at Virginia Tech who plans to join the UI faculty next month, has been outspoken in support of Palestinians in essays and on social media. Some of his recent tweets prompted a columnist with the Daily Caller to condemn him and the UI, for hiring him.
"(Expletive) you, #Israel. And while I'm at it, (expletive) you, too, PA, Sisi, Arab monarchs, Obama, UK, EU, Canada, US Senate, corporate media, and ISIS," he tweeted Sunday.
About the Israeli prime minister, he tweeted: "At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza"
And, "Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just (expletive) own it already. #Gaza"
Salaita will start employment with the UI on Aug. 16.
He is the author of books on several different topics, from Arab-American fiction to "Israel's Dead Soul," a criticism of Zionism.
He will be an associate professor and will teach American Indian Studies courses, according to campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler. His salary will be $81,000.
"Faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees," Kaler said in response to the tweets.
Salaita was unavailable for comment Monday.
"As I'm in the middle of moving, I'm a bit preoccupied at the moment," he responded electronically to The News-Gazette's request for an interview.
In some of his tweets, he explains his anger: "If my tweets are astringent it's because I'm angry. I am deeply sad when children are killed. I get angry when people justify their murder."
Violence is not limited to weapons of war. Economic strangulation, confinement, and withholding medical supplies are all violent acts. #Gaza
— Steven Salaita (@stevesalaita) July 22, 2014
Also, "While Israel bombs children in #Gaza, Zionists are busy trying to get #BDS activists fired," he said, referring to the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions movement that he supports.
Last December, Chancellor Phyllis Wise said the university opposes the boycott of Israeli academic institutions and values academic freedom as one of its core principles, stressing "the critical importance of the ability of faculty to pursue learning, discovery and engagement without regard to political considerations."
"Our institution opposes any efforts to limit the ability of our faculty to work with scholars from other institutions around the world, and we encourage such connections, as collaboration is one of our core values in the pursuit of knowledge," she wrote.
Salaita has been no stranger to controversy. While at Virginia Tech, he wrote an essay for Salon.com about the overuse of the phrase "support the troops."
In a follow-up essay in Salon about the backlash he received from that piece, Salaita wrote, "The first rule for any serious writer is to agitate the contentious and embrace the disreputable."