Category Archives: Commentary

Statement on Professor Steven Salaita

Reinstate Professor Steven Salaita

September 9, 2014

For immediate release

Photo: https://www.facebook.com/supportsalaita
Photo: https://www.facebook.com/supportsalaita

George Mason University Students Against Israeli Apartheid expresses solidarity with the students and faculty of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the larger network of activists in their struggle against the university administration’s termination of the newly hired American Indian Studies professor Steven Salaita. We express support for the 11 UIUC departments in their votes of no-confidence against Chancellor Wise, the cancellation of events on UIUC campus and the boycott decision by over 5000 scholars. We demand that Steven Salaita is reinstated to his tenured position in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UIUC.

Steven Salaita was our guest for the first Apartheid Week organized on our campus in February of 2014. His talk on the academic boycott of Israel was the most successful event of our week. It encouraged an in depth discussion amongst the student and faculty about the emerging international solidarity movement with Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination. His generosity during the talk remains inspirational for all of us.

The Board of Trustees decision to terminate Professor Salaita’s employment after he signed a contract with the department and the college in which he would be working is an attack on the freedom of speech and shared governance of faculty on university campuses. Professor Salaita’s tweets, which were the sole reason he was declared as ‘unfit’ for UIUC, express in as civil language as possible our thoughts and feelings during Israel’s most recent massacre, Operation Protective Edge, during which over 2000 Palestinian civilians were killed (more than a quarter of them children) over 10,000 Palestinians wounded, over 17 thousand homes destroyed including entire neighborhoods like Beit Hanoun and Shuja’iyya and 500,000 Palestinians in Gaza displaced (again). When read in the context of his larger discussion on social media, Professor Salaita’s comments are consistent and expressive of righteous outrage over the repetition of massacres in Gaza, continued violence against Palestinians and the occupation of their land in the West Bank and Israel. We condemn Israel for these actions and demand accountability. And we support Steven Salaita for speaking out against them so profoundly and with courage.

The mobilization that emerged with Steven Salaita’s case should show that Palestinians will not be silenced. We would like this movement to also be acknowledged as part of a larger momentum of university students and faculty demanding self-determination for their working conditions as well as future research and development. This should serve as a cautionary tale across all university administrations that faculty, students and staff are claiming their rightful place: right at the center of decision making on their campuses.

GMU STUDENTS AGAINST ISRAELI APARTHEID

Peace means… ignoring the occupation

The following article is a guest post by Hank Pin from American University Students For Justice in Palestine. Stay tuned for a piece by SAIA’s own Ahmed al-Sayeed:

just be positive
“It’s cool guys, Palestinians just need to forget about the occupation and think on the bright side!” Source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-CuUzvbMwEw4/TV4ckfdVD5I/AAAAAAAAA-E/PllqifDmvWc/s1600/optimism.jpg

Recently, I had the opportunity to read Miranda Lapides insightful article “Israel Peace Week and Positive Psychology” which explained how giving a conflict a “positive spin” helps to bring out people’s most important values, thereby paving the road to peace.

For one, I am certainly glad that someone has finally taken the subjective idealist framework and applied it in a conflict situation. After all, external material reality is nothing more than perceptions of the mind, right? What are “occupation” and “apartheid” if not mere ideological concepts that exist in the mind?

In fact, let’s acknowledge exactly that. Let’s ignore the countless home demolitions that have occurred in Palestinian villages. Let’s ignore 65 years of humiliation that Palestinians have lived through. Let’s ignore the destruction of lives and households of the Palestinians. After all, these issues are merely just subjective perceptions, and I am sure that the settlers who just uprooted a Palestinian farmer’s olive tree have a just and equally valid subjective perception. Who needs to actually deal with material reality when you have “positive psychology.”

Yes, let’s not talk about the issues that actually effect people’s lives. Let’s focus on some abstract notion of “positivity” and “peace” while people are being oppressed and and having their livelihoods ruined. No, that would too divisive, not helpful for “positive psychology.” Oppression only exists in the mind, you just have to keep convincing yourself that everything is alright and that whatever hardships you experience are merely subjective.

Such is the absurd logic behind the Israel Student Association’s call for “positive psychology,” a call that does not seek to address what is wrong, a call that seeks to ignore the sufferings of others, a call that serves nothing more than to whitewash the actions of the oppressors.

As much as one can wish, the Occupation simply cannot be “thought away” with positive psychology. Daily hardships that people go through do not go away by “focusing on the positives.” No, these are real people with real lives, with real tangible hardships that they have to go through. Appealing to an infantile fantasy that somehow by having “positive psychology” would somehow remedy the situation is not only naïve, but counterproductive.