CHICAGO (CBS) — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has reportedly decided not to hire a controversial professor whose anti-Israel writing has lit up Twitter like gasoline on a fire.
WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, even though Steven Salaita has his supporters, the university reportedly rescinded its job offer to join the American Indian studies program, after a firestorm of criticism of Salaita’s comments on Twitter about the Middle East conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Some of them seem to cross the line recently into advocating violence against people,” said Cary Nelson, a professor of English at U of I, and former president of the American Association of University Professors.
He said he has defended the hiring of controversial professors before, but this is not a matter of academic freedom.
“Academic freedom does not protect incitation of violence,” he said. “There was an American reporter – who someone else Tweeted, saying his articles should be met on the point of a shiv. And Steven Salaita re-Tweeted that, apparently approvingly.”
Nelson predicted the university’s decision will affect the BDS – the Boycott Israel movement.
“Steven Salaita’s case will be taken up as a cause around the country. It may be that we have provided the BDS movement with its ideal martyr,” he said.
Salaita, who currently is listed as an associate professor for the English Department at Virginia Tech, has not returned WBBM’s calls.