Steven Salaita was reportedly blocked from receiving a permanent position at the American University of Beirut, two years after his dismissal from the University of Illinois following controversy over anti-Israel comments he made on Twitter.
AUB president Fadlo Khuri was said to shut down a job search for a permanent position at the university after the search committee unanimously endorsed Salaita, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Salaita started working at AUB in 2015, a year after the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign revoked his offer for tenure. Administrators acted after anti-Israel tweets that the scholar had written drew ire for including traditional anti-Semitic tropes.
Supporters of Salaita implied he was targeted for his pro-Palestinian views and urged the university to follow the search committee’s recommendation, in a petition posted online.
“With the absence of an investigation, and given Professor Salaita’s recent termination from a tenure-track position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for his pro-Palestinian political views, we fear that AUB is reproducing the trend of persecuting scholars who condemn the injustices committed in Palestine,” the petition read.
“This breach of academic freedom cannot be allowed at AUB, an institution that ‘encourages freedom of thought and expression and seeks to foster tolerance and respect for diversity and dialogue,’” it continued.
Khuri, meanwhile, called claims Salaita was dismissed due to his political views “wholly untrue” saying they were “a malicious distortion of the facts involved in this case,” according to an email obtained by Inside Higher Ed.
The university president named complaints from faculty members regarding “conflicts of interest and misconduct” in the search process as the reason behind the decision.
“Violations included the presence of visiting faculty with selection and voting rights on the search committee, as well as the presence of lower-ranked faculty members voting for a higher-ranked position,” Khuri said. “Additionally, there was a conflict implied by the current incumbent chairing a committee to find their own successor.”
Salaita did not immediately respond to a request for comments.
Josefin Dolsten is a news fellow at the Forward. She writes about politics and culture, and edits the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.