CAMERA Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Elana Zelden, has only been on campus for a month, but she is already taking action and making changes.

When professor Steven Salaita used the kidnapping and murder of Israeli teenagers Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali as an excuse to advocate for such violence against all “West Bank Settlers,” his offer to teach at UIUC on a tenure-track was revoked.

The UIUC student paper, the Daily Illini, subsequently ran a cover story profiling Salaita’s defenders and promoting an inaccurate and sympathetic picture of Salaita’s misbehavior.  Our Fellow, Elana, wrote to the editors to correct the record.

Dear Editor,

You recently featured a cover story about the outrage amongst campus students and faculty after Chancellor Wise decided to rescind the offer of a tenure position to Steven Salaita after his inappropriate tweets. I think rather than covering people’s complaints about the school’s decision, every student and your newspaper should be thanking Chancellor Wise for doing her job properly in creating a safe and tolerant environment for the students at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She understood that with Salaita as a professor at our school, there would be intolerance. His being hired would promote the hatred that he spewed in his tweets. 

Some of Salaita’s tweets included: “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not. I wish all the f****** West Bank settlers would go missing”, “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948”, or “If you’re defending Israel right now, you’re an awful human being.”

After reading these tweets, I am shocked at how someone writing such hateful and disrespectful statements could be expected to treat students who are pro-Israel or Jewish with respect. With such a diverse student body, it is likely he would encounter differing viewpoints. It is hardly likely, given his recent tweets, that he would be able to act appropriately. 

I find it hard to believe that there would be such rage if someone insulted any other group. The hate from this man and inappropriate reactions from other students is just plain and simple: anti-semitism. This is very clear as he is advocating for the deaths of thousands of innocent people just because they are Jewish and living in small portions of Judea and Samaria. Chancellor Wise understood that these kind of ideas are not creating a safe and welcoming environment for many students. 

So whether a student is Jewish, Muslim, Christian or of any other religion, race, or ethnicity, they should be horrified by the hatred promoted by this man (who is responsible for shaping and bettering young minds) and should be praising Chancellor Wise for her “wise” decision in eliminating such intolerance from entering our open and welcoming campus.

Thank you,
Elana Zelden
LAS Freshman at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
U of I Student Fellow for CAMERA 
CAMERA Fellow at UIUC, Elana Zelden

Though her letter has still not been published, Elana is not finished.  Elana reports,

“I saw a newscast online that covered a meeting I went to where the Chancellor spoke about Salaita before they made the decision. The news segment completely misrepresented who was at the meeting and only showed speakers from SJP and not the pro-Israel groups on campus. The ISSI president and I both wrote them letters about how it did not represent what actually went on at the meeting, and the next day, the news station took down the written article for the video, and replaced the link with a report about how many faculty members do not support Salaita.”

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