Over three dozen executive officers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have called to reinstate a professor whose job offer was rescinded for a series of anti-Israel tweets.
A total of 41 department heads, chairs and directors sent an open letter on Sunday demanding that Acting Chancellor Barbara Wilson and President Timothy Killeen call for the reinstatement of Steven Salaita at the university's next board meeting on September 10.
The saga over Salaita's employment began last summer when he published virulently anti-Israel tweets on his personal Twitter page in the midst of Operation Protective Edge.
One tweet branded Israel's defenders "awful human beings," while yet another suggested it would be no surprise if Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children."
The tweets spread and before long were reported on by local media, enraging several donors, who called for Salaita – due to join the faculty of UIUC's American Indian Studies program – to be let go.
In response, the university revoked its offer to Salaita; a month later the board of trustees voted against his hiring.
Salaita has since filed a lawsuit against UIUC, the board of trustees and several administrators accusing them of violating his constitutional rights. He has also accused UIUC of breach of contract and intentional emotional distress.
A potential return to UIUC may be complicated by Salaita's recent appointment as the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.