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Oberlin Places Anti-Semitic Professor on Leave

Joy Karega, who claimed Israel created ISIS, perpetrated 9/11, and executed the Charlie Hebdo attacks, has been put on paid leave until the completion of an inquiry into her conduct

Yair Rosenberg
August 03, 2016
Oberlin College, March 2013.Facebook
Oberlin College, March 2013.Facebook

Oberlin College has placed professor Joy Karega on paid leave pending an investigation into anti-Semitic statements she made on social media, the college said in a statement today. She will not teach at Oberlin this coming fall semester.

Karega attained notoriety over the last year when her anti-Jewish Facebook postings came to light. Among other assertions, Karega dubbed ISIS a “CIA and Mossad operation,” posted a video asserting that Israel perpetrated 9/11, claimed the Jewish state downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, said the Mossad perpetrated the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and shared an anti-Semitic meme of Jewish banker Jacob Rothschild that declared, “We own your news, the media, your oil, and your government.”

Oberlin’s move to suspend Karega from teaching marks the first concrete step taken by its administration toward addressing Karega’s bigotry. As Tablet reported, after the college was informed about the professor’s anti-Semitic outbursts in January by alumni, it remained silent for a month until the media reported on Karega’s postings and forced the issue.

Moreover, as Tablet and other outlets have documented, Karega’s conduct reflects a broader climate of anti-Semitism at Oberlin that has gone unaddressed for years. Notably, Karega was hired to teach “social justice writing” to undergraduates by a small search committee that included two of Oberlin’s associate deans, all of whom failed to recognize her bigotry.

Whether Karega will serve as a scapegoat for Oberlin’s institutional problems when it comes to Jews, or whether she will be the catalyst for a broader reckoning on anti-Semitism, remains to be seen.

The college’s full statement on Karega is printed below:

For the past several months, Oberlin College has been considering carefully the grave issues surrounding the anti-Semitic postings on social media by Oberlin faculty member Dr. Joy Karega.

In March, in consultation with President Marvin Krislov, the Trustees of Oberlin College asked the administration and faculty to “challenge the assertion that there is any justification for these repugnant postings.” The College initiated its faculty governance process to review Dr. Karega’s professional fitness in light of these postings.

The faculty governance process that began thereafter is ongoing, and the Oberlin administration will continue to respect this process as it plays out. Until that process is complete, Dr. Karega has been placed on paid leave and will not teach at Oberlin.

In recognition of the sensitivity of this review process and the privacy of the individuals involved, we will have no other comment until the conclusion of the process.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.