Oberlin College pays off anti-Semitic professor

By Brian Williams
April 13, 2020

Oberlin College settled a federal lawsuit by paying off Joy Karega, a professor fired after she broadcast on Facebook virulent Jew-hating slurs. At the same time, college officials refuse to settle with the family that owns Gibson’s Bakery, a small business in the Ohio college town, despite a unanimous jury verdict against the college after it slandered the Gibsons as “racist” and attempted to drive them out of business.

The college at the end of January agreed to pay Karega an undisclosed amount after she demanded $885,000 along with punitive damages, interest and attorney fees. Karega, who is Black, claimed discrimination “on the basis of race and gender,” after she was fired in November 2016.

She disseminated her anti-Semitic views while an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition at the college. In her posts she urged a revolt against what she alleges is “the real power” — the family of Jewish banker Jacob Rothschild that owns “the media, your oil and your government” and effectively controls the world. To bolster these falsehoods Karega claims Islamic State is really an arm of Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies, and that Israel was behind the 9/11 New York terrorist attacks, as well as those in Paris in 2015 against the Charlie Hebdo comic magazine.

Such views attempt to scapegoat Jews for the devastation inflicted on working people as the crisis of capitalism deepens. They aim to divert us from fighting the capitalist class, whose great majority is non-Jewish, and whose system of exploitation is above all responsible for the conditions we face. When the rulers’ hold on power is threatened by rising working-class struggle they increasingly turn to rightist forces that unleash violence against both Jews and working-class fighters.

Karega also hosted campus meetings of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which calls for the destruction of Israel and treats its Jewish population as a monolithic reactionary mass.

In response to her Jew-hating rants, Oberlin College officials initially defended Karega, issuing a statement saying that she has the right to hold whatever views she wants. But in August 2016 they suspended her on paid leave while the college administration conducted an investigation of her comments. Among those backing Karega were the Black Student Union and the Oberlin College Student Senate.

The Oberlin College Board of Trustees on Nov. 15, 2016, dismissed her citing her “repeated refusal to acknowledge and remedy her misconduct.”

While coming to a settlement with the anti-Semitic professor, Oberlin College officials continue their efforts to crush Gibson’s Bakery. They defamed the small business, which has provided goods to the college for decades, as “racist,” cutting off its contract. They are now attempting to bleed it dry by appealing the June 2019 unanimous jury verdict in favor of the bakery owners and the $31.5 million in damages awarded to the Gibsons and their lawyers.

Oberlin’s smear campaign against Gibson’s began in November 2016 when top college officials helped organize student protests and a boycott of the bakery. They claimed the store owners were racists after a college student who is African American, with the aid of two other students, attempted to shoplift wine from the store and the three were arrested. The students later pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of attempted theft and admitted in court that no racism was involved.