The Simon Wiesenthal Center protested the recent appointment of Professor Steven Salaita to the University of Illinois' Native American Studies department. Salaita escalated his well-documented anti-Israel views recently on Twitter when he libeled the Jewish state by equating Israel with ISIS, the Islamist terrorist group that is waging a reign of terror in Iraq and Syria. This is the group that beheads prisoners, destroyed sites holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews.
In a letter to Robert Easter, President of the University of Illinois, Rabbi Meyer H. May, Executive Director of the Wiesenthal Center and Aron Hier, who heads the Center's Campus Outreach program, questioned the qualifications of a professor who would liken Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, to "a radical extremist group who crucifies civilians and then posts the videos, like trophies, on YouTube." May and Hier noted that such outrageous statements present a real danger to the entire campus community, especially to its Jewish students:
What possible prestige can Salaita add to the UI faculty when in truth, he is a misguided 'academic' who spews such venomous and mendacious analogies? How is the Jewish campus community to be assured that UI cares for its safety and responsibly vets incoming faculty when the university now hires a professor who recently tweeted: 'At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? and 'Why would Hamas even try to use children as human shields? Israel has proved for decades that it has no problem shooting them.'"
Rabbi May and Mr. Hier also countered Professor Salaita's attempts to avoid the taint of anti-Semitism, saying, "… had the professor done his homework, he would have learned that the State Department is unequivocal on the matter: 'What is Anti-Semitism Relative to Israel? Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.'" By this definition, the Wiesenthal Center officials said that Salaita is "nothing more than a baseless anti-Semite."
"We strongly believe that a person… with such aberrational views cannot be trusted to confine his discussions to his area of study. We urge you to reconsider his appointment and look forward to immediately discussing this serious matter with you," May and Hier concluded in the letter.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament.