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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

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