Listen: Steven Salaita on Palestine, media and free speech

Last month, professor Steven Salaita gave a talk on the media, Palestine and free speech as part of Israeli Apartheid Week-Montreal. Israeli Apartheid Week is a global series of events intended to spark discussions on campuses about Israel’s occupation in Palestine and the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

“One thing that you see consistently at least in corporate media, and to some degree in progressive or even leftist media, although it’s really begun to change, is that coverage tends to have very little — if any at all — context of colonization, particularly settler-colonization,” Salaita says, “and certainly very little historical framing of the existence of a Palestinian nation that was destroyed in the first half of the twentieth century, culminating of course in 1948 and then continuing up until today.”

Speaking in the context of countering the negative portrayal of Palestine and the Palestinian struggle in corporate media, Salaita spoke of “the ways that we can be engaged in and supporting alternate media whose mission and whose vision, both journalistically and politically — and socially — looks very different than a for-profit entity owned by seven conglomerates that own every bit of big-time media in the world right now.”

Listen to an excerpt of Salaita’s talk at McGill University in Montreal, featuring Gretchen King of CKUT radio and Emmet Livingstone, an editor of the McGill Daily, via the media player above. The full speech can be accessed here.

Legal team responds

Salaita is suing university officials, trustees and donors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for firing him from a tenured faculty position in the American Indian Studies program.

Salaita’s complaint contends that the dismissal was motivated by university officials’ disagreement with tweets he made criticizing Israel’s assault on Gaza last summer that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians.

Last week, Salaita’s legal team responded to an attempt by the university to dismiss his case. Salaita’s attorneys say that because of the university’s violations of his constitutional rights, his first amendment claim must be allowed to proceed.

Dr. Cornel West, celebrated public intellectual and professor at Princeton University, recently canceled a lecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in protest of Salaita’s firing. West joins a boycott of the University of Illinois by thousands of scholars outraged over the violation of Salaita’s right to free speech.

Photo of Steven Salaita, Gretchen King, Emmet Livingstone and moderator Michelle Hartman by Ralph Haddad.


Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).