A professor who lost his job over anti-Israel tweets is suing several officials at the University of Illinois. He claims his termination violates freedom of speech and was influenced by the institution’s “donors”.
Professor Steven Salaita quit Virginia Tech University, after he was offered a position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). However, just two weeks before the start of the 2014 academic year, Salaita was informed of a job offer being rescinded over his “uncivil” tweets, posted mainly during the summer war in Gaza.
The university cites some of those in a statement backing the decision.
“You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the f**king West Bank settlers would go missing,” one of the tweets said. Another one was “If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being.”
“These statements and many more like them demonstrate that Dr. Salaita lacks the judgment, temperament and thoughtfulness to serve as a member of our faculty in any capacity, but particularly to teach courses related to the Middle East,” the University statement reads.
In the Federal suit, filed in US District Court in Chicago on Thursday, Salaita argues the university violated his constitutional right to freedom of speech and “trampled on principles of academic freedom.”