Steve Salaita was fired, outside all ordinary academic procedure and on a racist basis, by the President of the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana. A Palestinian-American, his work focuses on indigenous people. He was hired with tenure in the Indigenous Studies Department at UICU from a tenured position at Virginia Tech. Faculty members - and decent people everywhere - are fighting for Salaita to be given his job honorably, but as with the election of Netanyahu, barbarism toward Palestinians - and those who recognize their humanity - is afoot in Israel and the United States.
Salaita recently wrote a piece about the countryside/geography of Occupied Palestine, and to what extent today it can be explored - across check points - by young people hiking. A central point is the olive trees, which I saw, some dating back 2000 years, on a trip with Vincent Harding and the Dorothy Cotton Institute in 2012. See "The Burning of the Olive Trees" here.
These are the livelihoods of families. What have the olive trees, praying, done to be burned by the Israeli settlers?
The face of the settlers in this last election is that of naked racism, Israel a "Jewish" authoritarian state, which many of us Jews - remembering the ghettoes in Europe and seeing the brutal treatment of the Palestinians by these would-be "Europeans" - oppose.
Netanyahu stands for experiments in weaponry - the rampant, repeated killings in Gaza - and striving to provoke larger war in the Middle East against Iran (where Israel alone has nuclear weapons and might well, if threatened, use them). But how does one silence, even in the New York Times, the extraordinary voice of racism which is now the policy/face of Israel? See Ben Norton's "The New York Times wrote a piece about Netanyahu's racism, then rewrote all of it" here.
Steve Salaita's words are powerful. He compares the mythology of Los Angeles - an imagined Mediterranean place with palm trees, Spanish settlers invoking Angels... - with Palestine, an Orientalized theme-park for Israeli settlers...
Here is what he says, rightly, about indigeneite (I walked around occupied Hebron on the Jews-only Shuhadeh Street, saw big signs for Judea and Samaria painted on...a military base, waited for some of our trip members who met with settler leader David Wilder, with his tzitzis (prayer beads) and Glock revolver, fresh from New Jersey. See here):
Implying the bloody analogy of genocide against American indigenes - see here for a year by year accounting from 1776 on of so-called Manifest Destiny and here - Salaita says:
"As to the people of the land, the Palestinians, they only figure into Zionist mythology as relics of the past, fit for display in shows of quaint nostalgia, never as agents fit for self-determination."
It is obvious why an American "University" would challenge a faculty member who writes like this:
Steven Salaita on