Over 5000 Scholars Boycotting the UIUC

Tomorrow is Steven Salaita’s day. Just so that he—and the rest of the world—will know how many of us in academe are standing with him, there are now 5098 scholars boycotting the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign until the University reinstates Salaita.

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. General, non-discipline-specific, boycott statement: 1819*
  2. Philosophy: 567
  3. Political Science: 306
  4. Sociology: 292
  5. History: 93*
  6. Chicano/a and Latino/a Studies: 78
  7. Communications: 105
  8. Rhetoric/Composition: 63
  9. English: 360
  10. Contingent academic workers: 295
  11. Anthropology: 177
  12. Women’s/Gender/Feminist Studies: 54*
  13. Library and Information Science: 180
  14. Natural sciences: 34
  15. Graduate students: 675

*These are numbers I have had to pull from older reports; they could be higher.



  1. bor September 9, 2014 at 3:13 am | #

    I think 5000 is a large numbers of supporters.

    On the other hand, since there are more than 1,267,000 post-secondary educators in the USA (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-6), there seem to be around 1,262,000 who don’t find Salaita’s case compelling enough to boycott UIUC and don’t appear to significantly object to requiring UIUC to hire him, if they object at all.

    For perspective, consider that 5000 scholars is no more than the combined faculty of UIUC (2500), Illinois State U (1300) and Southern Illinois U (1200). Voila! 5000.

    Of course, that means that faculty who aren’t boycotting UIUC include the equivalent of all the faculty at Illinois’ 72 other universities (including U of Chicago and Northwestern) PLUS all the faculty at the other two thousand eight hundred and seventy (2870) 4-year colleges and seventeen hundred and thirty (1730) 2-year colleges that presently operate in the USA.

    There are almost as many Title IV-eligible, degree-granting institutions in the USA as there are scholars willing to boycott UIUC. It’s almost as if the ASA decided to boycott the university but nobody else did. Big deal.

    In my opinion, UIUC should not be too concerned about this boycott. It will blow over.

    • John Protevi September 9, 2014 at 8:08 am | #

      A superb example of whistling in the dark. For something that you are so confident will blow over, you spend an inordinate amount of time scrambling to keep up with.

      • BillR September 9, 2014 at 11:11 am | #

        Peddling hasbara is a never-ending task:

        Hasbara is the noun form of the Hebrew verb ‘to explain’, in the sense of advocating a position. ‘Propaganda’ might seem the obvious translation but that might not do justice to the intensity of feeling that lies behind it. A Ministry of Hasbara was first created in 1974, with Shimon Peres in charge; in 1975 it was disbanded and hasbara became a multi-ministerial task. Since then, the importance of hasbara has come to the fore every time Israel has been involved in a major conflict—the 1982 war, the 1987 intifada, the 2000 intifada. In March 2009, two months after the invasion of Gaza, Israel re-established the Ministry of Hasbara; the current minister is Yuli Edelstein.

        The hasbara aspect of the Gaza operation was put in train several months before the invasion. In May 2008 four French-speaking Israelis were selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in conjunction with the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, to visit Switzerland, France and Belgium, where, as the Jewish Agency spokesperson put it, they were to ‘deliver the messages that our official diplomats cannot’. ‘Stick to your personal stories,’ they were told, ‘do not be drawn into political discussions. There will be people who irritate you and say that you are occupiers … do not go there.’ Similar, English-speaking delegations set out for Britain, Ireland, Holland, Denmark and the US. German speakers went to Germany. On arrival, they gave interviews to the local media; they met members of parliament, members of the Jewish community and local bigwigs and spoke, as instructed, of their own experience—the constant shelling, the effects on their families, their businesses, their daily lives.

        In February this year, the government’s Masbirim website (masbirim: ‘those who explain’) drew up a set of instructions for Israelis traveling abroad. The website, which according to the Ministry of Hasbara had 130,000 hits in its first week, aims to ‘provide information to counter criticism that might be experienced abroad’. It details Israel’s achievements in technology and agriculture, as well as suggesting ways to ‘encourage visits to Israel’, ‘to dispel myths about Israel’ and to deal with political criticism. Visitors to the website are advised, when arguing with ‘people of other cultures’, to ‘maintain eye contact … if you look away it might be seen as lack of attention and your argument will lose its force,’ and ‘to keep generally still … rapid movements can create nervousness and confuse.’ The same advice is being broadcast on Israeli television. Further afield, to ensure that the Israeli tourist is comprehensively brainwashed before landing in London or Rome, the Ministry of Hasbara distributes its brochures to passengers about to board El Al flights, and the TV campaign is beamed to aircrafts’ in-flight entertainment systems. There is no running away.

        When Israel sent 200 soldiers to Haiti to set up a field hospital on a football pitch in Port-au-Prince, the Israeli media crowed. ‘What do you think about that, Goldstone?’ was one headline. ‘Israeli Delegation to Haiti Makes All Others Pale,’ said another. ‘Well Done Us,’ said a third. But the most disturbing was: ‘The Haiti Disaster: Bad for Them, Good for the Jews.’


      • Bor September 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm | #

        Some people appear to be very threatened by a few stats.

      • Jasmine m September 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm | #

        Billr , American who are appalled by antisemitism are not hasbara. That’s so insulting and patronzing. Basically you are saying, it’s OK for left radicals, anti Zionists and antisemites to say whatever they want, and all others please shut up because you are Hasbara.

    • glurg September 9, 2014 at 8:21 am | #

      let’s also consider WHO has signed these petitions–these are big big names in academia.

      • louisproyect September 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm | #

        Yes, but with the Animal Sciences Department on her side (her own department), Phyllis Wise has nothing to fear. Everybody knows that people who handle rats all day are going to be keyed into the need to defend the IDF.

    • RJB September 9, 2014 at 10:20 am | #

      I follow this with interest but as a non-academic. Would not any person who hopes for a career in academia and whose future is controlled by subjective judgments, that is, those who do not already have a tenured position, be the only ones who could cast a public vote without fear of damaging their resume?

      • louisproyect September 9, 2014 at 12:47 pm | #

        This is important. I know a number of adjuncts and tenure-track professors who have grown wary of saying anything about Palestinians today because of the witch-hunt.

      • Jasmine m September 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm | #

        louis, what you are saying is nonsense. People in academia have been expressing anti Israel opinions for a long time and are doing so right now. Any one who thinks this was about opinion,does not display the level of understanding expected from a professor, to put it mildly.

    • louisproyect September 9, 2014 at 12:45 pm | #

      When in American history have 5000 professors signed a statement saying that they would boycott a university for its repressive policies? If the academy had been this aroused in 1950 or so, history would have taken a different turn.

    • louisproyect September 9, 2014 at 12:48 pm | #

      Bore, is the “e” non-functional on your keyboard? You may want to invest in a Macbook. They are very reliable.

  2. Bor September 9, 2014 at 1:07 pm | #

    Another relevant stat: as of now a letter signed by 400 UIUC faculty petitioners supporting Wise’s decision is outnumbering the 275 who signed the petition opposing her decision.


    According to the News-Gazette reporter on the scene presently (Salaita is supposed to be speaking now), about 100 people have shown up on campus to demonstrate for Salaita. That’s not such an impressive number when one considers the university has 44,000 students and 2500 faculty, in addition to administration and other non-faculty. Someone else is welcome to pull out a calculator to get the specific figure but lets all agree that at least 99% of the university’s population doesn’t appear to feel strongly enough about Salaita to go out for an hour to support him.

    • John Protevi September 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm | #

      Think of it this way, bor: all your work here and the boycott has reached 5000 individual scholars worldwide, 11 departments at UIUC, some major scholarly organizations, and a growing number of cancellations. Are you sure your contributions aren’t helping us?

      • louisproyect September 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm | #

        His intervention reminds me of the fights we had about the Vietnam war in the 60s. Basically he is trying to deploy the “silent majority” strategy of Richard Nixon as if the failure of a student or professor to protest Salaita’s firing is an indication of support for McCarthyite tactics. When I see such people cropping up everywhere that the Salaita case is being discussed, I am reminded of how desperate the Israeli lobby is to pay money for such anonymous trollers.

    • bor September 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm | #

      Gentlemen, you seem to be quite concerned about my remarks and yet I am still waiting for even one substantive criticism. You wouldn’t be bothering with me if what I’ve written wasn’t relevant to you in some way and yet you have no actual responses. Come on, surely you can do better than to yell “hasbara” and “paid for” and “bore” (the last one, in particular, reminding me of the taunts I’d expect from the immature second graders in the grade), I feel as if I’m reading Salaita’s petulant writings and tweets.

      • John Protevi September 9, 2014 at 4:18 pm | #

        what, us concerned with you? how many comments have you made here? calling you “hasbara” is actually a compliment: the case is so important they’ve assigned their best man to it.

      • bor September 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm | #

        “calling you “hasbara” is actually a compliment: the case is so important they’ve assigned their best man to it.”

        You win a prize for expressing my point better than I could.

        Sadly for me, nobody pays. If only someone would. Maybe I should have gone into academia? Isn’t that the career where they pay some people to write screeds that are nothing more than political activism? Wow, I can’t seem to stop bringing up Salaita.

      • louisproyect September 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm | #

        There’s not much point in answering you since your point is that Salaita is not enjoying popular support. Neither did the White Rose in Nazi Germany, nor Martin Luther King Jr. in Alabama. If you tried to justify his firing, then there might be some point in taking you seriously. Right now you are nothing but an oddity, like a dog walking on its front legs or a two-headed puff adder.

      • bor September 9, 2014 at 5:53 pm | #

        “Nazi Germany”

        “Martin Luther King Jr. in Alabama.”

        Oh, I thought you were still using analogies to the Vietnam War, Nixon and McCarthyism. I can’t keep up. Next, I assume you’ll bring up apartheid, Pol Pot and Ghengis Khan. I can’t wait.

      • John Protevi September 9, 2014 at 8:11 pm | #

        “Sadly for me, nobody pays.”

        Well, my hat’s off to you. You’re good at what you do, I’ll grant you that. And if you’re doing it just for the love of the cause, then you might want to talk with your accountant. You’re leaving money on the table, because with your skills you could charge a good amount.

        Of course, if you are being paid, you would deny it, so I’m not going to get too carried away with the free advice.

      • Jasmine m September 12, 2014 at 12:38 am | #

        I thought these were students. But John is actually a professor. I am shocked. The discussion here reminds me of middle school and the way all of you jump on the only person who does not agree with you and taunt him like children is disgusting. I am so happy I am not in academia and I actually get to have intelligent discussions with people who hold different opinions. Very disappointing. Waste of time.

  3. University of Florida September 9, 2014 at 8:16 pm | #

    I am surprised no one (from what I have read) has drawn parallels between the Salaita case and the Scott Nearing case (a famous breach of academic freedom) a century ago in June 1915, at the Uni. of Pennsylvania. There are many parallels between execution of the two, and they are both about suppressing social activism of courageous intellectuals from the hallways of education.

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