Oberlin professor on paid leave for anti-Semitic remarks

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(RNS) An associate professor of rhetoric and composition has gotten herself in trouble for some of her rhetoric and compositions.

Joy Karega has been placed on paid leave by Oberlin College, a private school in Ohio, for remarks she allegedly made on social media that linked ISIS-related terrorist acts to both Israel and the United States.

The college issued a statement about the move that describes the review of Karega’s statements as ongoing and says “the Oberlin administration will continue to respect this process as it plays out.”

Meanwhile, Karega has been placed on paid leave and will not teach in the fall semester, which begins Aug. 29.

The comments in question were made in 2015 on Karega’s Facebook page and were first made public by The Tower, a news site focused on the Middle East. It included screen shots of the posts in question, which have been removed from Karega’s Facebook page.

At first, Oberlin faculty defended Karega’s freedom of expression, saying her views were her own. But university trustees reconsidered in March and in August issued a joint statement with local religious leaders characterizing the posts as “anti-Semitic.”

Last year, some Oberlin students expressed concern about what they saw as growing anti-Semitism on campus. They presented university administration with pages-long documents they said highlighted anti-Semitic incidents, including Karega’s Facebook remarks.

Karega’s Oberlin faculty page lists her teaching interests as “black political and protest literacies” as well as multiple forms of writing and speaking. It says she is at work on a book about the Black Liberation Front International, a student organization at Michigan State University in the 1970s.

Oberlin College was founded by two Presbyterian ministers. Past graduates include actress Lena Dunham, director Julie Taymor and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake.