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Steven Salaita Lands Job at American University of Beirut, Talks Black Politics and Palestine Solidarity

Solidarity Poster done by the "Anti War Committee Chicago"

Solidarity Poster done by the “Anti War Committee – Chicago”

Steven Salaita announced on Twitter that he will be the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut (AUB) for the 2015-16 academic year.

Salaita's career came under the spotlight when he was offered a tenured position at the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign (UIUC). But after posting tweets criticizing Israel's latest attacks on Gaza in the summer of 2014, the university withdrew the offer in August 2014. The withdrawal drew nationwide condemnation in American academia as an assault on constitutionally sanctioned freedom of speech. Despite the criticism, including a condemnation from the University's American Indian Studies program and its Executive Committee of the Program in Jewish Culture and Society, the UIUC's chancellor Phyllis Wise refused to provide proper justification for denying Salaita tenure.

In response, numerous academics have called for a boycott of the UIUC and several high-profile professors have canceled scheduled talks at the university, including Taner Akcam, a leading scholar of the Armenian Genocide, and Todd Samuel Presner, director of Jewish studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a Holocaust scholar. The UIUC eventually admitted pre-emptive firing and was put on the American Association of University Professors (AAUP)'s censure list. The entire story has been carefully and constantly documented by the Electronic Intifada, and continues to be to this day.

In a speech given at the University of Chicago on October 7, 2014, alongside the Electronic Intifada‘s Ali Abunimah, Salaita started by acknowledging that what happened to him “has been happening to ethnic, sexual and cultural minorities in academia for decades, African-Americans especially, and continues to happen today.” He then went out to point out that “a shameful irony is that Jews were long marginalized in the Academy because of their supposed dangers to ‘anglo-civility’, victims to rationalizations for their exclusions that sadly don't look terribly different than the ones being used against supporters of Palestinian human rights. The suppression of ‘blackness’ and ‘indigeneity’ predates the purge of Palestine and in many ways contextualizes and sustains it.”

In a brief conversation with Global Voices, Salaita explained the relevance of black politics with Palestine solidarity politics.

Palestine solidarity politics have always been in conversation with black politics, especially black nationalist politics, and other ethnic and radical traditions, so it's less a creation of something new than the recovery of very strong and fruitful traditions. First of all, we have a responsibility to those who are mistreated in our own communities. Second, the connections between Israeli and US violence are legion, too many to mention. And finally, these narratives offer tremendous organizing possibilities. We are strongest when we work together, able to listen and self-criticize.

While getting the position for which he was originally hired “remains the goal”, Salaita said that he's looking forward to teaching at AUB:

I'm planning to offer courses in American Indian and Indigenous Studies. I don't think that these areas have had a strong presence on campus, so it will be exciting for lots of us to get started. I have a feeling I'll end up learning much more than I teach.

37 comments

  • walt kovacs

    does steve need help packing?

  • conjurehealing

    This is quite an honor but he needs to eventually take his stand at an American university.

    • AUB is an American university (it’s registered in the States), and Salaita is planning on going back to UIUC eventually. As far as I understand it, the Edward Chair Chair position is a yearly one.

      • rigamarole

        Thank you for the information.

  • rigamarole

    What does he actually know about American Indians? His appointment to such a university department was as illegitimate as the mans pursuit for any academic position with regard to some fabled expertise in Indian affairs.

    • Floyd Anderson

      “What does he actually know about American Indians?” He has a Ph.D. in Native American Studies from the University of Oklahoma. Is that “fabled expertise”? Should you have done your research before mouthing off and demonstrating your ignorance?

      • rigamarole

        His PhD dissertation was entitled: “”Holy Land in Transit: Colonialism and the Quest for Caanan””. It entitled him to receive a PhD from the Department of English at the University of Oklahoma. I think you need to educate yourself, Floyd. Is that too much to ask? I doubt that Steven Salaita has ever spent so much as a week on a reservation or reserve (Canada). He’s so theoretical, so un-Indianlike in his demeanor I’m afraid he’s learned nothing from the First People. He doesn’t know the Native people but he’s accepted positions better filled by real Indians who know their own people, their respective cultures, their languages. In fact, due to his acceptance of positions he was never qualified for, he’s deprived real Indians of gaining such appointments. The only real “colonialism” is Steven Salaita’s and his arrogance.

        • conjurehealing

          “rigamarole,” you should educate yourself. Go to proquest and order a copy of the dissertation. Try to read it, although the big words may challenge you. Gain an appreciation for what a Ph.d. in English demands for the credential. Does it require what you have suggested, i.e. firsthand and personal acquaintance with its historical subjects? I suspect not. It sounds like you are hurt because you do not qualify for nor understand what such faculty appointments are, and their expectations. How could you? You probably think that “real” Indians, whatever that means, should only study “Indian” topics in academia. You insult all of us who do this work.

          • rigamarole

            His PhD is in the English Department, not in Anthropology nor Sociology nor History nor Indian Studies. As to your pop psychology opinions (about me), well, that’s what they are, pop psychology, always an excuse for arrogance, opinions based on no knowledge of actual facts.

             
          • conjurehealing

            The fact is, if you would READ this or any other recent dissertation, you will find that “English” is an interdisciplinary field; in order to get a Ph.D. you would need to have studied and passed examination in a number of these areas, and others, including philosophy, interpretation theory, and in his case, postcolonial criticism. The truth is not arrogance. On the other hand, your opinions, offered without knowledge, are useless.

             
          • rigamarole

            Look at the title, conjurehealing, and then comment with some precision according to the facts at hand. A degree in English cannot be just anything you want it to be. That he actually poses as an expert in American Indian affairs is a travesty and totally disrespectful to the Native people of North America. Like most people on the left, however, facts mean nothing to you; they can always be twisted to reinforce your crystalline (frozen) perspective.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            Since you pretend to such expertise as to be capable of passing judgment on Salaita’s training and qualifications, why don’t you cite your own relevant training and degrees. Give the title of your own dissertation. If you have any such qualifications, can we assume that you were overstating when you asserted that “the only real ‘colonialism’ is Steven Salaita’s . . . “? There is nothing “unreal” about Zionist colonization of Palestine. It is all too real and all too deadly. And, in all too many ways, especially in its brutal treatment of indigenous people, it resembles the “real” and actual European colonization of North America. A person of your pretended expertise surely knows that. I look forward to learning about what qualifies you to make such sweeping assertions abut Salaita’s scholarship. Let’s see your qualifications. Present the facts. Is that asking too much, rigamarole? Or do facts mean nothing to you?

             
          • rigamarole

            Sorry Floyd, you won’t convince me to personalize the post anymore than you will come out of the corner. but here are more facts. Try digesting, or refuting, them: The colonialism of White Europeans to a land where they had no history is altogether different than the emigration of Jews where they had a two-thousand year old history including a small minority of Jews who had resided in the newly named “Palestine” since their defeat at the hands of the Romans under a succession of foreign invaders including the Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Mamluks and Ottoman Turks (“The Arab-Israeli Conflict”, Efraim Karsh, 2002, Osprey Publishing, page 13).

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            Just as I thought. Your are a hasbarist,, and probably a paid one at that. Tell me again about the two-thousand year old history that European Askenazi Jews such as Netanyahu have in the land of Palestine. But first answer my questions about your expertise and how it qualifies you to critique Salaita’s ability to teach Native American Studies. You failed to do so. In what area of Native American studies is your Ph.D.? Where did you earn it and what was your dissertation title? What subsequent books and articles have you published? I know that you hasbarists don’t like to answer questions or provide evidence to back up your assertions but the time has come for you to do so. Citing irrelevant materials, as you do in your post above, gleaned from CAMERA or giyus.org or some similar Zionist hasbara outfit won’t cut it. Either answer my questions or admit that you are only pretending to expertise in your pompous and ill-willed comments.

             
          • rigamarole

            You are unable to deal with the historical facts as presented so you condemn the person who presented them. Always the sign of an inferior person.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            You presented no “facts.” Just assertions. But why are you refusing to answer my questions about your qualifications to critique Salaita’s credentials and ability to teach Native American Studies? Does your silence confirm that you have no relevant academic degrees or other qualifications, no relevant doctoral dissertation, no published books or articles. Were your critiques of him, as I suspected, nothing more than uninformed hot air motivated by your desire to squelch a critic of the war crime committing, apartheid state of Israel? You silence leaves me no choice but to conclude that such is the case.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            If you are really interested in learning the historical facts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, here are some superior, highly regarded works written by people with impeccable academic credentials: Ilan Pappe, A History of Palestine: One Land, Two people (2003); Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Ilan Pappe, The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge (2012); Sholomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People (2008); Sholomo Sand, The Invention of the Land of Israel (2012). Steven Salaita has almost certainly read these books. Have you?

             
          • rigamarole

            Once again, you have failed to deal with the facts of Jewish demographics and so-called colonialism in the land identified as “Palestine” by the Romans. In other words, you made an assertion but have failed to back it up when challenged. Naming Shlomo (you spelled his name incorrectly) Sand and Ilan Pappe and their books in no way refutes the assertion I made (quoted from Efraim Karsh). Your academic facility appears to be lacking, sorely. Once again, I ask you to refute my statement.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            I’m still waiting for you to tells us about your academic qualifications to question Salaita’s ability to teach Native American Studies. Where did you get your Ph.D? What was the title of your dissertation? What articles and books have you published in Native American Studies. In case you’ve forgotten, that IS the topic of this thread. You irrelevant comments about Jewish demographics is an obvious and transparent attempt to confuse the issue because you don’t want to admit that you have no academic credentials to criticize Salaita’s scholarship, despite your arrogant pretension of knowledge and expertise. No more irrelevant comments from you about Jewish demographics, little Mr. rigamarole, until you have answered my questions about your pretended expertise. Why is it impossible for you hasbarists to ever answer a question directly?

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            So I am an “inferior person.” Is that also what you think of Palestinians? Is that why you think it is okay for Zionist Jews from Europe to steal their lands and homes and murder their children? That is certainly what 19th century European Americans thought about the indigenous native people. And here you are disrespecting Steven Salaita and his culture the same way that 19th century whites disrespected Sitting Bull and Chief Joseph. Should I infer from your comment, rigamarole, that you are a Jewish Supremacist? also a racist?

             
          • rigamarole

            We did not “steal” lands which were already ours, Floyd. And we were willing to share the land. As to murders, in 1921 Arabs (rioting) slaughtered 90 Jews and left many more injured. In 1929, the Arabs of Hebron murdered, raped and tortured over sixty Jews (their neighbours) and, overall, 133 Jews were murdered during the rioting and hundreds more were injured. These are facts and can be found in any history book covering that period of time.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            If you are so willing to share the land, why don’t you immediately end the blockade of Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, vacate the illegal settlements, tear down the apartheid wall, and face the music at the International Criminal Court for the numerous and unending human rights abuses and war crimes against innocent Palestinians. But enough of this. ANSWER MY QUESTIONS ABOUT YOIUR QUALIFICATIONS TO CRTIIQUE SALAITA’S ACADEMIC WORK? Either admit that you have none or tell us what they are.

             
          • rigamarole

            You simply cannot take part in an academic discussion, Floyd. That is, and has been, apparent.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            Another irrelevant comment that still fails to present your academic qualifications to critique Salaita’s work. It is you, little man, who is incapable of engaging in an academic discussion. Are you an academic? Your many spelling and grammatical errors do not suggest that you are. Tell us where you got your degrees and what relevant works you have written so that we may properly assess your ability to critique Salaita. Your failure to do so makes it clear that you possess no such credentials.

             
          • rigamarole

            Please point out spelling and grammatical mistakes, Floyd. I am always interested in improving myself. Incidentally, you do seem to be quite a hothead, a very angry person. What’s wrong?

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            Until you answer my questions about your academic qualifications to critique Salaita’s ability to teach Native American Studies I intend to ignore your further comments. You are a paid hasbarist and have a monetary incentive to keep this discussion going. I have no such monetary motive and, unless you answer my questions, you are making any further discussion between us impossible. I have concluded that you have no qualifications to critique Salaita (your silence and refusal to answer prove my point). And, no, pointing out the many crimes of the Zionist state does not make one a “hothead” or angry. Why do you hasbarists, when the going gets rough, always resort to “condescension’ and name-calling? There might be something wrong, however, with people who are not angry about child murder.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            1921? How about 51 bloody, genocidal days in summer, 2014, in which the IDF murdered more than 2,000 mostly innocent Gazans, over 500 of them children younger than 12. Since 2000 Israel has killed 9,137 Palestinians, 2,061 of who were children. Let’s talk about now, not 1921?

             
          • rigamarole

            Your facts can’t stand scrutiny, Floyd. It was war. Thirty Israeli civilians had already been killed due to Hamas launching rockets and missiles into our territory. By our count, about half those killed were militants. Hamas, of course, placed civilians in areas where they would be hit by IDF bombs and shrapnel. They also placed ammunition and arms in U.N. schools. They took advantage, of course, of our unwillingness to hurt civilians. Every war, incidentally, includes the wounding of innocents. Are you from the USA? Just look at Dresden, Nagaski and Hiroshima.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            Your assertion, minus any evidence to back it up, that the commonly accepted and widely cited statistics that I cite about Palestinian casualties in the brutal genocide Israel committed in Gaza in summer 2014 “can’t stand scrutiny” doesn’t make it so. Your comments about Israel continue to be a diversionary tactic to avoid your answering my question about what really can’t stand scrutiny, namely your claim to possess the expertise to critique Steven Salaita’s qualifications to teach Native American Studies.

             
          • rigamarole

            The “commonly accepted “statistics which you indicate are a Pallywood fabrication. There are, arguably, different and contrasting views. You don’t seem to appreciate that. Your academic sources are, incidentally, pitiful. It’s obvious that all your arguments are kneejerk responses to the Israeli/Arab conflict without thoughtful considerations. You’re invited to have the last word (I know you need that) because this discussion, for me, is no longer fruitful.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            More sweeping assertions from you minus any evidence to back them up. And you still refuse to provide your academic qualifications to critique Salaita. Go away, hasbarist. Be gone with you. I cannot take you seriously. I refuse to waste any more time conversing with you. Your comments are inconsequential.

             
          • I commend you on your patience Floyd

             
          • DTickMD

            In the discussion above, “Floyd” has the distinct advantage of writing in a medium edited by those who almost uniformly accept and endorse his skewed, biased perspective, and he speaks to an audience largely populated by those of similarly entrenched, preconceived, immovable and ineducable pro-Palestinian opinion such as “joeyayoub”. However, when weighed on the merits of the veracity of appropriately documented historical facts alone, and with disregard to the stomping of feet, the angry rolling of eyes, dramatic foaming at the mouth, the childlike calling of names, and the referencing of biased, unsubstantiated information sources, it is clear that the arguments made above by “rigamarole” rather than those of “Floyd” not only hold up under the light of purely logical scrutiny, but also clearly win the day. However, lacking any more substantive reply, “Floyd” will undoubtedly attempt to paint me with the same lame brush he tries but fails to wound “rigamarole” with, that being juvenile, limp name calling, and idiotic accusations of such pure paranoid nonsense as “paid Hasbarist”.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            Like “rigamarole,” you make sweeping assertions but fail to provide any evidence to back them up. You give no “substantive reply” to my arguments. You assert that “it is clear that the arguments made by ‘rigamarole’ . . .not only hold up . . . but win the day.” You ignore the fact that “rigamarole” not only failed to present any arguments (relying solely on assertions and Zionist propaganda like you) and you provide no evidence to back up your own assertions, seeming to think that making sweeping assertions qualifies as argument. Where are the “appropriately documented historical facts” you speak of? You certainly do not provide any. Should you be painted with the same brush as “rigamarole”? You certainly are a hasbarist, like “rigamarole,” although whether or not you are “paid” is unknown and irrelevant. Both of you are lightweights who lack the mental ability to construct arguments to support your beloved apartheid Zionist state. It seems certain that some pro-Zionist hasbara outfit, such as giyus.org, contacted you and sent you here to provide support for the embarassingly inadequate comments of “rigamarole.” Is such an accusation “‘paranoid”? Ask Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, who recently spent $50 million to promote and fund anti-BDS hasbara, if it is “paranoid” to speak of their efforts as an existential reality. And there are many other similar hasbara groups, some funded by the Israeli government. If you and “rigamarole” are the best the Zionist Lobby can come up with, it is in big trouble. Go back to the folks who sent you here DTickMD, and tell them that your hasbara efforts have failed miserably. They sent you, a callow and uninformed youth, to do a man’s job. You clearly weren’t up to the task.

             
          • DTickMD

            “Floyd” reveals the true nature of his character through his chronic dependence on ad hominem attack to make his case where intelligent and recognized strategies of civil discourse and debate evade him. His arguments depend heavily on intricately woven, purely fictional fantasies he creates in imagining the identities and motivations of his adversaries and foils, and sadly, he allows himself to believe his own fantastic imagined fairy tales . Unfortunate individuals like “Floyd” lack the maturity, the honesty, and the critical insight to recognize that juvenile ad hominem name calling is no substitute for intelligent discourse. Neither does he realize that the citing of totally biased references sources written from the perspective of advancing political agenda equally hold no sway in honest debate, nor do they shine any reliable light of truth on topics being discussed. His angry invective invoking such purely vitriolic rhetoric as “Go back to the folks who sent you here”, and “it is ‘paranoid’ to speak of their efforts as an existential reality” reflect only hate, scorn, intolerance, shallow mindedness, and petty ego. I hold no ill will towards “Floyd”. Rather, he has my pity and my hopes that perhaps, with time, he will eventually acquire some humility, humbleness, and a more open minded intellect capable of offsetting his angry, weak ego, his desperate need to always be right, and his reflexive and impulsive inclination to violently lash out at anyone who dares disagree with him.

             
          • Floyd Anderson

            In a comment composed entirely of ad hominem attacks DTickMD accuses me of ad hominem attacks. I never cease to marvel at the obtuse lack of self awareness exhibited by Zionist hasbarists. After violently lashing out at me in sentence after sentence he accuses me of “violently lashing out.” His comment is on a par with Israel’s propensity to maintain that it is really the occupied and victimized Palestinians who are the oppressors and that the genocidal Israelis are really the victims. I guess a vile and dishonest ideology like Zionism requires vile and dishonest apologists like rigamarole and DTickMD. I wonder if DTickMD, after accusing me of wanting the last word, will be so obtuse as to reply to this comment, thus demonstrating that it is he who demands the last word. Zionism and hypocrisy seem to be synonymous terms.

             

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