Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov has announced that he is supporting a professor accused of anti-Semitism.
Joy Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, has claimed that Jewish bankers control the world's economy and have been behind every war for centuries, that “Zionist” orchestrated both the 9/11 attacks and the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo, and that Israel is responsible for ISIS.
Many of these remarks were made on Facebook, Twitter and Karega's blog. She has since changed the privacy settings on her accounts to limit access.
Though he did not mention Karega by name, Krislov wrote a letter to the Oberlin community about “selected screen shots of an Oberlin assistant professor's personal social media posts [that were characterized] as anti-Semitic.”
While acknowledging the pain her messages caused, he insisted that they fall under academic freedom.
“Cultivating academic freedom can be difficult and at times painful for any college community,” he warned. “The principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech are not just principles to which we turn to face these challenges, but also the very practices that ensure we can develop meaningful responses to prejudice. This freedom enables Oberlin’s faculty and students to think deeply about and to engage in frank, open discussion of ideas that some may find deeply offensive.”
Krislov added that Oberlin will respond to Karega's accusations “by interrogating assertions with facts and deep, critical thinking from multiple viewpoints.”
Oberlin is considered a very prestigious university as well as one of the most liberal in the country, but Jewish students there have said that they at times feel threatened by their fellow students. One spoke about a speaker “[drawing] laughs when she said that Zionists should be burned at the stake,” while the campus Students for a Free Palestine has declared that “Ohio [where Oberlin is located] is infested with Zionism.”