Oberlin College has dismissed an assistant professor eight months after condemning her for posting anti-Semitic and false accusations on social media and placing her on paid leave.
The Oberlin College Board of Trustees said in a statement Tuesday that Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition Joy Karega had been fired after they "concluded that Dr. Karega’s postings could not be justified as part of her scholarship" and had impaired her ability to teach.
Karega's Facebook posts were screenshot and shared on the pro-Israel magazine The Tower in February. One post from 2015, after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, showed an ISIS fighter tearing off a mask of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with the conspiracy theory that Israel caused the attack in order to get France to stop supporting Palestine.
In another post, from December 2014, Karega included a photo of banker Jacob Rothschild with text saying, "We own nearly every central bank in the world. We financed both sides of every war since Napoleon. We own your news, the media, your oil and your government.”
In another post, she falsely accused Israel of taking down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine: "All things considered, it seems obvious that the same people behind the massacre in Gaza are behind the shooting down MA-17. The Israeli ground offensive began the very same day Flight 17 was shot down."
All of Karega's posts were deleted after gaining attention.
In response, Oberlin's President Marvin Krislov said that although he was Jewish and had family who had died in the Holocaust, as an academic he believed in the freedom of expression.
But then in August, Kargea was suspended and placed on paid leave.
A statement from Scott Wargo, the director of media relations for Oberlin, said the college had been “considering carefully the grave issues surrounding the anti-Semitic postings on social media by Oberlin faculty member Dr. Joy Karega.”
Her termination was finally announced Tuesday, with the college emphasizing the fact that Karega refused to apologize for her posts.
“In the face of Dr. Karega’s repeated refusal to acknowledge and remedy her misconduct, her continued presence undermines the mission and values of Oberlin’s academic community,” the college said in a statement. “Thus, any sanction short of dismissal is insufficient and the Board of Trustees is compelled to take this most serious action.”
Karega wrote in a statement shared with Inside Higher Education that she intends to "challenge the college's decision and assault on my substantive rights through all the avenues I have available to me." She also said the Facebook posts were taken out of context.
"Since the publication of the posts, I have been inundated with hundreds of hatemail filled with slurs (racial, misogynist, classist), harassment and threats," she said. "To add insult to injury, for the last eight months, Oberlin has campaigned to implicate my professional fitness using arbitrary, inequitable and discriminatory practices. Indeed, the college launched an assault on my substantive rights."
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
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