Criticize Israel? You’re fired – The Intercept

For months, The Intercept has been hearing reports of professors who say they were fired or otherwise reprimanded for criticizing the Israeli government or speaking out for Palestinian rights.

The American Association of University Professors says the efforts have become so widespread and heavy-handed that it amounts to a “new McCarthyism.”

But in the absence of any official, central database on the firings and suspensions of academic workers, hard data was hard to come by. So The Intercept went to work to uncover the facts.

What we’ve found so far are academics in fields as diverse as politics, sociology, Japanese literature, public health, Latin American and Caribbean studies, Middle East and African studies, mathematics, and education who were fired, suspended, or removed from the classroom for criticizing Israel — and this may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Educators who have been affected by this “new McCarthyism” have little in common. They come from various parts of the country, private and public schools, and have diverse religious, racial, ethnic, and gender identities.

What they share is that they have all staked out positions in favor of Palestinian freedom — positions that lead them to be targeted by pro-Israel groups like Canary Mission and, which have used online shaming and donor pressure to demand the censure of targeted professors.

Mohamed Abdou, a visiting professor in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies at Columbia University, lost his job after being smeared in right-wing media as an antisemite and then thrown under the bus by Columbia’s president at a congressional hearing.

Danny Shaw, a professor at John Jay College, was told he would be let go after 18 years over a tweet criticizing Zionism — speech that is clearly within the bounds of First Amendment protections.

Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda, a scholar of Japanese literature formerly at CUNY’s Hunter College, was let go after a student reported her pro-Palestine social media posts to the department head.

Jodi Dean, a tenured political theorist at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York, was suspended from teaching after 30 years as a result of an essay advocating Palestinian rights.

New York University activist and scholar Amin Husain was suspended after eight years of teaching, allegedly over anti-Zionist statements, including social media content posted by an abolitionist art collective that he’s affiliated with.

The list goes on and on. The rule is that support for Palestine is a professional liability. The exceptions are rare, like when Arizona State professor Jonathan Yudelman was put on leave after he was caught on video harassing a woman in a hijab.

This “new McCarthyism” isn’t just a threat to academic freedom. It’s a threat to efforts to stop the ongoing slaughter in Gaza — and that’s why we must continue to report on and expose these efforts.