Tagged Academia

Good News and Bad News in the Fight Against Anti-Semitism

First, the good news: Over 600 academics thus far have signed a new letter opposing an academic boycott of Israel. The signatories include at least one Nobel Prize winner, law school deans, and leading scholars in several fields (that is just based on the some of the signatories I personally know; I have not looked over the whole list). The statement takes no position on the Israeli-Arab conflict, and tries to to be as neutral as possible about everything other than BDS itself. The key parts of the letter are below; it is open for signature by any college or…

How to Be Utterly Unreasonable (Corey Robin Edition)

Those who are closely tracking the Steven Salaita affair know that Corey Robin–who is a “political theorist” at Brooklyn College–has perhaps been Salaita’s most ardent defender and champion. This article profiles Robin. Note the following: In the Salaita case, Todd Gitlin faults Mr. Robin for failing to engage with the substance of Mr. Salaita’s tweets, at least as far as Mr. Gitlin has seen. Mr. Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, points to this Salaita tweet from July: “There’s something profoundly sexual to the Zionist pleasure w/#Israel’s aggression. Sublimation through bloodletting, a common perversion.” As Mr. Gitlin views…

How Did Steven Salaita Ever Get an Offer from the University of Illinois in the First Place?

As I have written before, Steven Salaita likely has both a breach of contract claim and a First Amendment claim against the University of Illinois for revoking his job offer. But that doesn’t mean that he should have been offered a job in the first place, and one would hope that the University of Illinois–and other universities–will vet candidates more thoroughly in the future, before offering them tenured or tenure-track positions teaching students and conducting research. (And yes, this includes checking to see what candidates have written on social media.) I mean, how does someone with Salaita’s poor scholarship record actually…

On the Case of Steven Salaita

Don’t know who Steven Salaita is? Read this for background. And this, as well. Done? Good. And now, for my own take: Tablet Magazine has been on a roll with its coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas, and how big media news outlets have reported on the war. But in this editorial, I think they are off base. As reprehensible as Salaita’s tweets are, they are likely covered by the First Amendment, and unless the decision of the trustees at the University of Illinois really means something substantive in the hiring process–as opposed to being a pro forms affair–Salaita can…

The State of Academia and Academic Publishing

It isn’t good: The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense. Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has catalogued computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer, which is headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), based in New York. Both publishers, which were privately informed…

Still More on the American Studies Association and Its Boycott of Israeli Universities

A fine statement against the boycott by UCLA chancellor Gene Block. And all hail Stephen Harper. (I presume that there will now be claims that AIPAC is exercising its well-known insidious influence on Canadian prime ministers.) Incidentally, the universities engaged in the boycott may be violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I would not be surprised if they were, and a lawsuit regarding this issue would be downright hilarious.

Quote of the Day

For decades, the American Studies Association labored in well-deserved obscurity. No longer. It has now made a name for itself by voting to boycott Israeli universities, accusing them of denying academic and human rights to Palestinians. Given that Israel has a profoundly democratic political system, the freest press in the Middle East, a fiercely independent judiciary and astonishing religious and racial diversity within its universities, including affirmative action for Arab students, the charge is rather strange. Made more so when you consider the state of human rights in Israel’s neighborhood. As we speak, Syria’s government is dropping “barrel bombs” filled with nails, shrapnel and other…

On the Boycott of Israeli Universities, the Good Guys Are Winning

The American Studies Association certainly deserves to be on the defensive when it comes to its efforts to organize a boycott of Israeli universities. If it does not want to be on the defensive, perhaps it will reconsider its absolutely terrible and deleterious policy regarding the issue. Until then, it deserves the opprobrium it gets. The following may be my favorite passage: Leon Botstein, president of Bard College and a boycott opponent, said calls from alumni to take a stand against the boycott had played a role. “As an active member of the Jewish community, I recognize that the American Jewish…

Quote of the Day

Diane Herrmann, the co-director of Undergraduate Studies in Mathematics and a Senior Lecturer, described Sally as “a force of nature.” Herrmann worked with Sally as a teacher, mentor and then as a colleague for the past 30 years. “He was passionately interested in mathematical education at all levels,” said Herrmann, who with Sally co-founded the Young Scholars Program, a groundbreaking enrichment program for mathematically talented seventh through 12th graders. One student who benefitted from the Young Scholars Program starting in seventh grade was Maryanthe Malliaris, who is now an assistant professor in UChicago’s department of mathematics. She recalled the experience…

A Strong Denunciation of the ASA Boycott of Israeli Universities

Found here. Kudos to John Garvey for bringing a sense of perspective and reality to the debate; perspective and reality being alien to the American Studies Association. I suppose that I would have drafted a much stronger and more blunt statement, but seeing as how the president of the Catholic University of America found it within himself to be able to call the ASA “a kind of inept volunteer fire department, aiming to put out the Israeli-Palestinian conflagration by throwing gasoline on the fire,” and then immediately amended to say that in fact, the ASA had “decided to pour gas not…