All Things Considered

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A debate over academic freedom of speech was ignited in summer 2014 when the University of Illinois rescinded a job offer to a professor over a controversial set of tweets about the Israel-Gaza conflict. NPR's Kelly McEvers talks with the professor, Steven Salaita, about his experience.

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Schools tend to be the center of the community in small towns across America. That's probably never been more the case for Middletown, Calif., than right now.

Last month, when a wildfire destroyed more than half of the town in the mountains north of San Francisco, the schools were miraculously spared. They've since reopened and are offering a respite from the sad, day-to-day struggles many students and staff are facing.

Israeli security forces are struggling to contain a recent wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians that has erupted across Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, killing more than two dozen people in less than two weeks.

The government is deploying more security forces to areas of conflict, including Arab towns in Israel.

But shortly before this recent escalation began, city leaders in Jerusalem decided to try a new way to fight the separation and mistrust between Jews and Arabs, who constitute about 20 percent of all Israeli citizens.

When Vanessa talks about home, she doesn't mean San Miguel.

Vanessa isn't from here. The town, just a few hours from El Salvador's capital, is only the latest stop on the 17-year-old's desperate flight from criminal gangs, known as maras.

"They would often come to our home looking for us," says Vanessa, who, like all the people in this story, is referred to here by her middle name for safety reasons.

She says that a few years back, maras targeted her 15-year-old cousin the same way.