More on the conspiracy theories of Oberlin’s Joy Karega

More on the conspiracy theories of Oberlin’s Joy Karega

Since ACF’s previous post on the initial media coverage of the controversy about Oberlin professor Joy Karega’s social media posts, several additional and very notable commentaries and reports have been published.

Under the title “3 More Totally Crazy Things Oberlin Professor Joy Karega Appears to Believe,” The Tower revealed evidence showing that in addition to antisemitic conspiracy theories, Karega “has used social media to express preposterous beliefs on other subjects as well.” One example is Karega’s apparent belief that there is “evidence … that weather has been weaponized” and that “weather warfare” is used by “the global power structure” as a “weapon of mass distraction” to hide presumably nefarious plots and dealings.

Among recent condemnations of Karega’s antisemitic conspiracy theories, Ha’aretz columnist Bradley Burston focused on the failure of self-described progressives to speak out. Under the title “Progressive Except for Jew-Hate? Pure anti-Semitism on the Purely anti-Israel Left,” Burston asked: “What happens when a leftist critic of Israel actually does veer into vile, high-octane, Klan-grade anti-Semitism?” Burston noted that some “prominent critics of Israel who, while strongly leftist, are not members of the overtly anti-Israel camp, have condemned Dr. Karega,” but highlighted that “the hard left websites Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada, the exponent platforms for anti-Israel sentiment and hair-trigger responses to moral infractions by Israel, were conspicuously silent over the Oberlin professor’s remarks.” Burston emphasized that “Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada […] are sites in a class by themselves. A class in which it has become a matter of meme, that if you are strongly leftist on most issues, but can be seen to be pro-Israel in any way shape or form, even, or especially, if you are a two-state, pro-democracy progressive, you run the risk of being labeled, and therefore thoroughly discounted and dismissed, as PEP – Progressive Except (for) Palestine.” Burston suggested in conclusion that it was perhaps time to add a new designation “for those self-elected arbiters of public morals, the pure of anti-Israelism, who cannot bring themselves to condemn pure Jew-hate out of hand:  PEAS – Progressive Except For Anti-Semitism.”

As Burston indicated, both Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada are exclusively devoted to catering to anti-Israel activists and to promoting BDS; the fact that Karega is also a supporter of BDS and related anti-Israel activism is obvious from one of her recent Facebook posts, where she announced that the group Students for a Free Palestine had asked her to help them invite Robin Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History at the University of California at Los Angeles Department of History, for a lecture on “Fighting Apartheid Since 1948: Key Moments in Palestinian and Black Solidarity.” Karega emphasized that she was an ardent admirer of Kelley, and according to another recent posting by her, the event she helped organize was apparently set to take place as planned. Mondoweiss, which has been described as a “hate site,” lists three contributions by Kelley; in one of them he explicitly cites Electronic Intifada as a source.

Meanwhile, media reports – such as this one by the New York Post – indicate that the president of Oberlin College has expanded on his initial short response to revelations about Karega’s postings. According to this report, President Marvin Krislov again emphasized the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech but also noted: “I am a practicing Jew, grandson of an Orthodox rabbi. Members of our family were murdered in the Holocaust […] As someone who has studied history, I cannot comprehend how any person could or would question its existence, its horrors and the evil which caused it.”

However, in an op-ed published by Ha’aretz, Oberlin College graduate Rabbi Yehoshua Looks criticizes a “pattern of responses by the Oberlin administration to anti-Semitic biases and the harassment of Jewish students that to this alum feels is at best benign neglect.” Looks highlights a protest organized by Oberlin’s  Students for a Free Palestine (i.e. the same group that worked with Karega to bring Kelley to Oberlin), which forced Jewish students attending High Holy Day services for Rosh Hashanah 2014 to pass by an installation commemorating “the 2,133 Palestinians murdered by Israeli Defense Force [sic] over the 51 days of Operation Protective Edge.”  Looks also mentions Jasbir Puar’s recent lecture at Vassar and reveals that Puar spoke at Oberlin in 2007 and in 2009; moreover, according to Looks, Oberlin professor Meredith Raimondo “has used articles by Puar, including ‘Citation and Censorship: The Politics of Talking About the Sexual Politics of Israel,’ numerous times in courses she has taught.” Looks concludes by calling on alumni to fight “perpetual anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism like that at Oberlin” and, noting that in order to “be effective and pro-active, alumni need to organize,” he cites Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF)  and the ACF Oberlin chapter led by Melissa Hare Landa.


Update: As reported in a new follow-up post by The Tower, “Joy Karega, the Oberlin College professor whose support for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel conspiracy theories was first reported last week by The Tower, offered her thanks for an article at the conspiracy site Veterans Today that claimed she spoke ‘honestly about 9/11 and the two 2015 Paris false flags.’” In a Facebook post shared with the public and reproduced by The Tower, Karega linked to an article entitled “Anti-truther witch hunt fizzles at Oberlin College;” the article was authored by the notorious Kevin Barrett, who believes that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was employed by the US government and who is “a frequently cited ‘expert’ on Iran’s semi-official PressTV website.”

Karega also expressed her gratitude to UCLA professor Robin Kelley and concluded her short post by highlighting a paragraph from Barett’s article:

“I love what Barrett is proposing here in this article with this debate (and access to scholarship).

‘A rabid little Fox is drooling and gnashing its teeth. But that hasn’t stopped Oberlin College from respecting the academic freedom of Professor Joy Karega, who is being witch-hunted by the neocon-Zionist network for speaking honestly about 9/11 and the two 2015 Paris false flags.’”


Image: Screenshot from The Tower documentation on Joy Karega’s antisemitic Facebook posts