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Professor Reportedly Loses Position over Anti-Israel Tweets

Professor Steven Salaita, who recently resigned from Virginia Tech to accept a position at University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana’s American Indian studies program, lost the new job at the last minute, according to what some sources say was backlash to his anti-Israel tweets.

“The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza,” Inside Higher Ed reported. “While many academics at Illinois and elsewhere are deeply critical of Israel, Salaita’s tweets have struck some as crossing a line into uncivil behavior.”

Until about two weeks ago the university had defended Salaita’s ability to tweet what he wanted. “Faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees,” a university spokesperson said. But a fellow Fighting Illini prof indicated that Salatia’s tweets had crossed the line from a question of speech into one of civility, an acceptable metric by which to judge a new hire.

If the tweets were in fact responsible for the revocation of the offer, it would be the second high-profile dustup over social media within the academic world, after Kansas University Professor David Guth was put on leave last fall following a tweet blaming the NRA for the Navy Yard shooting. As Charles Pierce put it, beware the tyranny of the brand.

Here’s a sampler of Salaita’s tweets:

[h/t Inside Higher Ed]

[Image via screengrab]

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