Petition update


Rima Merriman
Bloomington, IN, United States

Aug 26, 2014 — Dear friends:

I am not being "uncivil" here in calling the University of Illinois administration duplicitous. It's the simple truth, unfortunately.

The news about Professor Steven Salaita's case today is that we now have confirmation for what everyone already strongly suspected and what the UI administration had lied about - namely the following (from Inside Higher Ed): "... on Friday, the university responded to an open records request from Inside Higher Ed for communications to the chancellor about the Salaita (Steven Salaita) appointment, prior to her action to block it.The communications show that Wise was lobbied on the decision not only by pro-Israel students, parents and alumni, but also by the fund-raising arm of the university."

As Corey Robin noted yesterday in a blog titled Follow the Money at the University of Illinois, "at least one email the chancellor received was from someone who identified himself as a major donor who said that he would stop giving if Salaita were hired. 'Having been a multiple 6 figure donor to Illinois over the years I know our support is ending as we vehemently disagree with the approach this individual espouses. This is doubly unfortunate for the school as we have been blessed in our careers and have accumulated quite a balance sheet over my 35 year career,' the email says."

So there we have it, folks - an orchestrated campaign of about 70 emails, with many appearing to come from the same person - so really less than 70. Against that, but going unmentioned in the Inside Higher Ed article - and having no heft at all in the eyes of the chancellor and Christopher Kennedy, the chair of the Board (there is no evidence they even look at what they get on this side of the equation) - are your voices 16,289 strong by now, the voices of more than 3000 scholars from around the world who are now boycotting the University of Illinois, many of whom are potential tenure referees who will not be available and who have sent individual letters putting forth civil and cogent arguments against the decision (including professors from prestigious law schools around the country), and the voices of a number of academic and other associations.

One thing we can be sure of - pro-Zionist money speaks to this group of wealthy business people on the Board of Trustees at the University of Illinois like nothing else does. But the remarkable thing is that, by its discredited action in firing Professor Salaita, the University of Illinois administration has managed to unite against them thousands of faculty on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the name of academic freedom and due process.

This fight is far from over.

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