Oberlin College is at the center of a controversy regarding one of its professors, Joy Karega, who has posted a number of anti-Semitic messages on her Facebook page. In a statement, Oberlin president Marvin Krislov, a self-described “practicing Jew,” defended Karega’s rights, writing that “principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech… enabl[e] Oberlin’s faculty and students to think deeply about and to engage in frank, open discussion of ideas that some may find deeply offensive.”
Karega, who teaches rhetoric and composition, is still employed by Oberlin.
On Saturday, Clyde S. McGregor, the chair of the Oberlin Board of Trustees, issued the following statement on behalf of the board. The statement challenges Krislov’s affirmation of Karega’s academic rights:
At our quarterly Board meeting yesterday, the Trustees of Oberlin College discussed postings on social media by an Oberlin faculty member.
These postings are anti-Semitic and abhorrent. We deplore anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry. They have no place at Oberlin.
These grave issues must be considered expeditiously. In consultation with President Marvin Krislov, the Board has asked the administration and faculty to challenge the assertion that there is any justification for these repugnant postings and to report back to the Board.
From its founding, Oberlin College has stood for inclusion, respect, and tolerance. We still do.
Clyde S. McGregor ’74, Chair, Oberlin College Board of Trustees
The controversy on campus took on another facet when a number of Oberlin students were sent an email Sunday morning from Danny Vestal (“[email protected]”) that contained anti-Semitic messages, Tablet has learned. The text of the email reads:
Good Work to Oberlin College, to Professor Joy Karega & President Marvin Krislov !!
The state of Israel, Zionist Jews are pure evil
They did 9/11
The 9/11 issue is critical for our country at this time
9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB!
2200 Architects and Engineers are telling us the U.S. Government is Lying about 9/11
The U.S. Government is complicit in the murders of 9/11
3 NYC SKYSCRAPERS WERE DESTROYED BY CONTROLLED DEMOLITION ON 9/11
Our enemy does not want you to know about the 3rd building, WTC 7. It was not hit by a plane
This issue exposes the wide and deep corruption of the governments, courts and media
Israel did 9/11
Former Director of Studies, Professor at U.S. Army War College Dr. Alan Sabrosky;
“Israel did 9/11. It is 100% certain that 9/11 was a Mossad operation period.”
The 9/11 Commission Report is a 571-Page Zionist Lie
The U.S. military knows Israel did 9/11
A Google search for “Danny Vestal + BuenaVistaMall” leads to Vestal’s apparent online resume, hosted by BuenaVistaMall.com, in which he calls himself “a Christian man with high morals” and a “Truthseeker.” Tablet spoke with Vestal, who confirmed that he had in fact sent the email to Oberlin students. Vestal, 67, lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is semi-retired. He told Tablet he spends much of his time on his website, BuenaVistaMall.com, to “seek the truth.”
Vestal told Tablet:
I am the person responsible for that email to Oberlin, whom I have found out since is a powerhouse in truth in our country. I’m very proud of their student activists there. They’re very active in getting the truth out concerning Israel and the Palestinian issue, and BDS.
I love the Jewish people. I do.
Vestal, an self-proclaimed “American patriot,” read a few lines from a quote he got “from rabbis”:
Judaism rejects Zionism and the state of Israel. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. Zionism is not Judaism. Many Jews are not Zionists. They reject Zionism and are our brothers in this struggle against Zionism and Israel. The Jews who are not Zionist are our brothers in our struggle. I feel the best way to bring down this U.S.-Israel-Zionist mafia is to expose the truth about 9/11.
John Bucher, the CTO at Computer Information Technology at Oberlin, addressed the email from Vestal in an email to Oberlin’s “students, faculty and staff”:
From: John Bucher <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 1:31 PM
Subject: Yesterday’s hateful anti-Semitic SPAM message
To: facultylist <[email protected]>
To: Oberlin College students, faculty and staff
From: John Bucher, Chief Technology Officer
Subject: Yesterday morning’s SPAM hate email
Many of you received a spam email message yesterday morning, containing a hateful anti-Semitic message and language. I want to assure you that we have investigated the technical parameters of these messages and we’re quite confident that the sender(s) obtained the Oberlin email addresses from our publicly accessible online campus directory. There is no evidence of a breach of the College’s computer systems (sic). We will continue to investigate these events and inform the College community as appropriate.
Chief Technology Officer,
Center for Information Technology (CIT)
Tablet reached out to Bucher for comment, but he has not yet replied to our request.
Tablet spoke with Rabbi Shlomo Elkan, the co-director of Chabad Oberlin, who confirmed that he had spoken with students, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who received the anti-Semitic email. Elkan had just met with a student to speak about the email when we called. Elkan added that the email “was playing on the vulnerable state that the student body was already in.”
“It’s an unsettling environment to be in,” Elkan said, adding that the feeling was not exclusive to Jewish students. “There is no room for hate speech of any kind [at Oberlin].”