Champaign-Urbana, IL. (ONN) The Socialist Equality Party’s strongholds are Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, but like many socialist political parties, they have a global presence. And the party used that wide footprint this week to protest the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza. Party members are also taking a stand in Illinois where the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana rescinded the hiring of a Palestinian-American professor because his recent statements were critical of the Jewish State.
Pro-Palestinian professor fired
‘The University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana has reportedly blocked the fall appointment of Palestinian-American professor Steven Salaita for his recent comments made on Twitter criticizing Israel’s war crimes in Gaza,’ the World Socialist Web Site reported today. WSWS is the official publication of America’s Socialist Equality Party and is distributed regularly here in the US.
Salaita was hired by the U of I to teach American Indian studies. He previously taught at Virginia Tech. He’s also the author of several books on the subject, as well as titles on the Middle East and Israel. It was a Tweet he sent out in recent days regarding the slaughter in Gaza that got him in trouble with the University. While his statements are crude, harsh and full of vulgarity, Opposition News readers may be sympathetic to his overall sentiment.
Professor Salaita Tweeted, “Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just F****** own it already,” and “F*** you, #Israel. And while I’m at it, F*** you, too, PA, Sisi, Arab monarchs, Obama, UK, EU, Canada, US Senate, corporate media, and ISIS.”
The University had previously come under pressure for its hiring of a senior professor with pro-Palestinian political views. But U of I spokespeople defended Steven Salaita as recently as two weeks ago when school officials were quoted by local Illinois media saying, “Faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees.” Apparently, the above Tweets proved too much and stretched the limits of the University’s free speech policy.
SEP in Sri Lanka
Three days ago, roughly 50 members of the Sri Lankan Socialist Equality Party demonstrated in central Colombo against the Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip. As reported by WSWS.org today, SEP joined together for the protest with the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE). Marchers chanted slogans such as, “Hands off Gaza” and “Oppose Israeli Invasion of Gaza.” The most interesting observations came from the protesters chanting, “Oppose the Imperialist World War preparations!”
This week’s demonstration followed on the heels of another protest one week ago in the same city, and organized by fellow socialists. SEP and IYSSE leaders explained that they wanted to show the differences between the two socialist factions’ positions on Israel and Palestine. The week-ago march was led by the Nava Sama Samaja Party, United Socialist Party and Frontline Socialist Party and used the slogan, “Let Palestinians live.”
SEP organizers explain that those groups are using their resources to beg the United States and Israel to stop the killing of innocent Palestinians. By contrast, the Socialist Equality Party says it is rallying the support of working class people around the world to stand together with the Palestinians and other people persecuted by imperialists like the US and Israel. They insist there’s a big difference between the two positions and tactics.