Israel fights the demagogues

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Israeli academia is in an uproar. And this is a good thing. Last week, the Zionist student movement Im Tirtzu opened a rather modest campaign against Ben-Gurion University’s Politics and Government Department. And the howls of protest stretched from the Negev to the border with Lebanon.

 

Im Tirtzu is a grass-roots initiative of university students. Over the past few years it has managed to amass a modest budget funded by Jewish and non-Jewish Zionists here and in the US.

 

One of Im Tirtzu’s central goals is to engender an atmosphere of academic freedom and intellectual pluralism on university campuses. Over the past generation or so, those campuses, and particularly the humanities and social sciences faculties, have become hotbeds of anti-Zionist activism and intellectual terror. Stories of professorial intimidation of and discrimination against Zionist students are widespread, as are instances of outright indoctrination in the classrooms.

 

As Ma’ariv’s Ben Dror Yemini reported this week, at Hebrew University’s law school, Prof. Yehuda Shenhav teaches a class called “Bureaucracy, Governance and Human Rights.” In the course of their studies, the students are expected to participate in the work of anti-Zionist organizations including Machsom Watch and Yesh Din. At the end of the year, the participants – who will be paid NIS 1,450 for their activism – are expected to write an article describing their experiences which will be turned into a booklet edited by Shenhav and anti-Zionist activists Michael Sfard and Yael Barda and published by their anti-Zionist NGOs.

 

The situation at Ben-Gurion University’s Politics and Government Department is particularly distressing. It is headed by Dr. Neve Gordon, an anti-Zionist activist who has written that Israel is a “proto-fascist state,” has castigated it as an “apartheid state” and has signed petitions calling for international academic, scientific, economic and cultural boycotts of the country.

 

Responding to complaints from students, Im Tirtzu undertook an examination of the Politics and Government Department faculty. It discovered that among the department’s 11 tenured instructors, nine are involved in extreme leftist political activity. Led by Gordon, six of the 11 signed a letter supporting soldiers who refuse to serve in the IDF.

 

Both of the department’s research fellows are notorious among their students for their anti-Zionist views. Eight of the department’s 19 adjunct lecturers publicly espouse radical leftist views. Three of the department’s six doctoral candidates have signed letters in support of Gordon’s calls for international boycotts.

 

AS EREZ Tadmor, Im Tirtzu’s research director, noted in a television interview last week, these views represent the politics of but a smattering of the public. And yet, they are the predominant view of the department. In a place where the most radical, dogmatic views – views that reject the state’s very right to exist – predominate, it is impossible to imagine that the average student feels comfortable exploring and researching other thought streams. Consequently, it is reasonable to fear that far from educating students, the department engages in wholesale indoctrination of students.

 

Indeed, as Makor Rishon’s Yishai Friedman reported last Friday, the department pays them and gives them academic credit for participation in radical leftist NGOs. As Friedman exposed, students who volunteer at post-Zionist NGOs funded by the New Israel Fund receive academic credit for their efforts and the NIF provides them with generous NIS 7,400 scholarships for their activism.

 

Several of the department’s faculty members serve or have served in leadership positions in these groups. For instance, Gordon served as the head of NIF-funded Physicians for Human Rights, which supported the false claim that the IDF massacred Palestinians in the battle at the Jenin refugee camp in 2002. The scholarship program is funded through the NIF’s Shatil group’s Everett Social Justice Fellowship initiative.

 

Last month, Im Tirtzu sent a letter to Ben-Gurion University president Rivka Karmi asking her to take action to correct the atmosphere of intellectual terror in the department.

 

It asked that she inform the group, within a month, of the actions she had taken in this regard.

 

It then gave her an ultimatum. If she refused to respond to its query, “we will be forced to utilize our freedom of speech and protest and use all legal means to inform the current and future student body, and especially those who support Ben-Gurion University in Israel and abroad, about the severity of the situation and the administration’s prolonged refusal to contend with the situation which has allowed it to reach the current level of severity. We will also recommend that political science students not study at Ben-Gurion University.

 

“Additionally we will request that the university’s donors place their contributions in an escrow account overseen by an attorney. The funds will be released to the university after it has substantively proven that the department’s bias and distortion, expressed by the faculty and course syllabi, have been corrected.”

 

Predictably, Karmi never acknowledged Im Tirtzu’s letter. And so when the month ended last week, the group embarked on a worldwide public relations campaign against the department. The campaign, which was widely covered by the media (and evoked the predictable condemnation of Haaretz), has led to a storm of criticism by professors at Ben-Gurion and their comrades throughout the country. Predictably, they have castigated Im Tirtzu as a McCarthyist group, a fascist group, an extremist group and a far-right group that is seeking to silence dissent and destroy the principle of academic freedom.

 

So too, many professors who have spoken on the issue have argued that Im Tirtzu has no right to be heard. For instance, in a television appearance last week, Prof. Yossi Yonah from Ben-Gurion appeared on Erev Hadash with Tadmor. There he said, “I reject the authority, the legitimacy of a group like this to come and investigate my behavior as a member of the faculty.”

 

These assertions are completely ridiculous. First of all, academic freedom is not threatened. What Im Tirtzu and other organizations like the Institute for Zionist Strategies have criticized is the fact that ideological uniformity in academic departments is not conducive to academic freedom.

 

NO ONE is criticizing professors’ right to engage in academic study. Im Tirtzu and other groups object first to the fact that much of what is presented as academic work is nothing but polemical dogma, unsupported by empirical or theoretical research.

 

Second they object to the fact that the views of the radical Left, which represents almost no one here, receives the majority of teaching and research positions at Ben-Gurion University’s Politics and Government Department.

 

Karmi has condemned Im Tirtzu and its campaign as McCarthyist and an attempt to silence opposing voices. While these assertions are par for the course for university heads who behave as though they have a divine right to unlimited taxpayer and donor funds, they are utterly false.

 

In acting as it has, Im Tirtzu has simply pointed out the obvious. No one is under any obligation to fund institutions that advance causes opposite to those they believe in. No one is required to study in a department that seeks to indoctrinate rather than educate. And both donors and students have a right to know what it is they are supporting.

 

Beyond that, the truth is that initiatives like Im Tirtzu’s seek to expand rather than contract academic freedom. It is inarguable that academic freedom flourishes in environments where all dissenting views are given fair representation.

 

Perhaps more important than the ultimate consequences of Im Tirtzu’s campaign is what both the initiative and the Left’s response to it tell us about the direction Israeli society is taking.

 

The Left’s hysterical response tells us that it – and particularly the academic Left – is incapable of withstanding even the slightest criticism. Yonah’s insistence that the likes of Tadmor have no right to criticize academics exposes a deep and abiding contempt for the public harbored by our publicly funded professors. From a budgetary perspective, Im Tirtzu lacks even a small percentage of the funds available to anti-Zionist NGOs like Physicians for Human Rights, which enjoys seemingly bottomless financial support from the EU and the NIF.

 

And yet, despite their unrivaled access to funds, their nearly complete control over the country’s universities, the often knee-jerk media support for their campaigns against Israel and their ability to spend sabbaticals abroad conferring with their Israel-bashing colleagues in places like Berkeley, for our radical academics, Im Tirtzu’s initiative to expose their hostility to the state that supports them evokes group hysteria. In response they call for Bolshevik-style rejection of the public’s right to notice their behavior, let alone criticize it.

 

Despite its modest budget, Im Tirtzu’s message is getting across. And not for the first time. In the spring the group launched a wildly successful public awareness campaign about the NIF. The group released a report detailing the central role NIF-sponsored groups played in assisting the Goldstone Commission in preparing its libelous report accusing Israel of committing war crimes in Operation Cast Lead.

 

What Im Tirtzu’s repeated success tells us is that something exciting is happening today. After a generation of meekly accepting the Left’s domination of the public discourse – in the media, in academia, in the legal system and in popular culture – the public has finally had enough. Young people like Tadmor and Im Tirtzu’s leader Ronen Shoval are finally standing up to their authority. And because they reflect the values and views of the overwhelming majority of the public, their message is getting through.

 

For the first time in a generation, the Left is on the defensive. Rather than dominating the airwaves with its allegations of Israeli and Zionist racism and criminality, it is forced to defend its right to block out all dissenting voices from the national debate.

 

There is much reason for concern about prospects for the future. With military threats to the country multiplying by the day and with the political campaign to delegitimize it escalating, Israel is under assault as never before. And yet, what the success of groups like Im Tirtzu shows is that, by and large, the public remains strong, vibrant, defiant and courageous. As our enemies grow stronger, the public is rising to meet and defeat them.

 

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post. 
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15 Comments

  • Marcel 08/24/2010 at 11:41

    They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation,
    That the name of Israel be remembered no more.”
    For they have conspired together with one mind;
    Psalm 83
    The God hating fifth columns inside Israel are busy little bees as they work with Mr. Satan’s Islam towards the same goal with very little resistance.
    They are all coddled by the insanely tolerant state as we see overt enemies of Israel sitting comfortably in the Knesset.
    The body’s immune system is no longer working and just a small dose of medicine (Im Tirzu) is quickly labeled as toxic poison by the enemy within.
    The phony right Likud,long ago co-opted by their puppet of the Globalist’s, Netanyahu does nothing but aid the enemy,even going after true Zionists while his useful party idiots are silent to this abomination because they all bow with religious devotion to their god in Washington.
    The godless, soviet era Marxists in control of media and higher learning have had great success in brainwashing much of the population and they fight as dirty as their Russian counterparts. Haaretz has already begun it’s pogrom against any who think to rise up against the ruling troika.of government media,academia.
    Already the large neutered John Hagee Christian Zionist organization has decided to stop funding Im Tizur because they are active in the struggle for Israel instead of passive. proving that Israel’s help comes from the LORD alone.
    you wrote :
    ‘As our enemies grow stronger, the public is rising to meet and defeat them.’
    Not quite.
    As our enemies grow stronger the weak,faithless Israeli leadership keeps surrendering to unreasonable US demands to stop growing,stop building,surrender their land for nothing close to peace and the many enemies on the outside see the disintergration within and prepare.
    The government of Netanyahu goes out of it’s way to attack the few healthy cells in the body and tear them down while protecting and funding the cancers of Hamas,Fatah and the Left and the Washington idol Israel serves wants more concessions from the useful idiots.
    Only the God of Israel can save Israel from it’s self destruction.

    Reply
  • Marc Handelsman, USA 08/24/2010 at 12:33

    The fact that organizations like Im Tirtzu exist is proof that university students are being poorly served by professors. The main reason professors have teaching positions is to impart their knowledge and qualified experience to their students. Unfortunately, Israeli students and their American counterparts are being cheated out of a first-rate education by professors with a second-rate intellect. Left-wing extremists must leave their discredited views outside the classroom, and stop indoctrinating young minds. Finally, professors owe it to their students to be intellectually honest, and anything less is academic malpractice.

    Reply
  • Leonard Schwartzburd in Berkeley 08/24/2010 at 18:04

    Way to go Caroline. Give those academic head up their asses, ass kissing self-hating Jews hell. Not everyone in Berkeley with a Ph.D., (me) buys their junk.

    Reply
  • anonymous 08/24/2010 at 21:10

    Marcel
    John Hagee Ministries as a religious non-profit organisation is very limited by the IRS as to what political involvements it can get into and keep its non-profit status. At any rate they are disinclined as polite outsiders to get involved in any internal Israeli politics.

    Reply
  • anonymous 08/24/2010 at 21:13

    American academics aren’t much better.
    When I think (and very unwillingly) of Noam Chomsky, I may vomit (I’m doing my best to keep my supper down right now).

    Reply
  • Marcel 08/25/2010 at 8:09

    ‘John Hagee Ministries as a religious non-profit organisation is very limited by the IRS as to what political involvements it can get into and keep its non-profit status. At any rate they are disinclined as polite outsiders to get involved in any internal Israeli politics.’
    Like I said ; ‘neutered’
    MESSIAH DOES NOT LIMIT HIS FOLLOWERS WHEN IT COMES TO SPEAKING THE TRUTH ! (Ephesians 5:11)
    I have Prima facie evidence that the US agenda is not peace for Israel but it’s methodical extermination under the lie of peace.
    If the US were truly concerned about impediments to peace it’s complete focus would be on removing Hamas from Gaza the real hinderance to peace ,not homes with Jews in them.
    As we see, the US focus is always on Jewish homebuilder never on Hamas except to strengthen them.
    That is all the evidence which is needed to convict the refined Nazis and their cleaned up version of Hitler’s Final Solution.
    What is inexplicable is how the Jews are once again under a spell of in-action as they allow Hitler wrapped in an America flag to drive them into the new death camps as he sings songs of peace to them ? After all you have been thru how can yo be so easily duped ,HOW IS IT POSSIBLE ?
    Why can’t you say no to your smiling Nazi’s wrapped in the America flag ?
    ….and of course John Hagee and his Zionist group are dead silent,neutered,ineffective in dealing with the newe Nazi’s in his own front yard.
    The IRS Nazi’s have already limited free speech in America and the 501c3’s are happy to keep silent as 98% of German Christian’s did durning the Third Reich.
    History always repeats.

    Reply
  • naomir 08/25/2010 at 8:19

    Caroline, I cannot say I’m surprised that the Israel Left has joined the University Hate Club. What saddens me are lessons so easily forgotten. Thank G-d for groups like Im Tirtzu and people like you who are there to expose the truth. Keep up the good work. G-d bless.

    Reply
  • Phoebe 08/25/2010 at 9:04

    This sounds very much like the research university where I taught until my retirement last year. Unfortunately, though, we had no students brave enough to band together against the faculty thought police. Thank goodness I was tenured before my “right-wing, militaristic, fascist” tendencies (to use some terms from the hate mail I received from colleagues over the years) were discovered. At least I could provide a safe haven for students in my office, where they could air their opinions – and argue about them – and voice their dissent about the “Indoctrination 101” courses they had to take. So long as there are people brave enough to dissent publicly, the cause isn’t lost. As the old songs of my youth used to say, “The thugs may break our bodies and cause us to shed tears, / But they cannot break our spirit if they try ten thousand years.”
    Thanks for all your good work and that of your gutsy staff!

    Reply
  • Anonymous 08/25/2010 at 11:02

    It appears that the left is in control of higher learning, world wide. They appear to be dominating media and entertainment as well. Why in this so and is it an accident? If it is, how very fortunate for them, that they control the dissemination of information at both venues. It virtually guarantees that the ideology will not, be allowed to fail and die as it always does, without support.
    It also guarantees death and destruction because lies must be used to obscure the truth in order to have that support. Then at long last, when there are enough bodies lying about, they will point at anyone else, and say that those people are responsible, not them. And if it should come to pass, that some measure of blame falls upon them, which they cannot then lie their way out of, they will simply say that someone lied to them about the situation, and that they are therefore not to blame.
    The left is nothing but lies and excuses, from beginning to end, and the only question is how many bodies there must be, before people realize it and no longer believe them.

    Reply
  • Anonymous 08/25/2010 at 16:51

    Notice that the left refers to anyone who doesn’t agree with them as “fascists” never as “Nazis”. There is a good reason for this. “Nazi” derives from National Socialist. The trouble is that is what the Left themselves are. Of course, some refer to themselves as International Socialists. But when they take power they forget about the international baloney. Stalin raised the slogan “Socialism in One Country” in his fight with Trotsky. What is that but National Socialism?

    Reply
  • Walter 08/25/2010 at 21:38

    on August 24, 2010 9:10 PM,
    ‘anonymous’ said,
    “Marcel – John Hagee Ministries as a religious non-profit organisation is very limited by the IRS as to what political involvements it can get into and keep its non-profit status.”
    +++
    Yes ‘anonymous’, but as a Christian ministry, who are John Hagee Ministries serving???
    Is it God’s purpose, for us, OR, is it their bottom $$$ line???
    “…For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
    Matthew 16:24-26
    We [Christians] are puffed up, and mistaken.
    The Jewish people everywhere are most certainly our spiritual brethren. [Romans 11]
    [Christians should view the Jewish people as those who are still ‘in prison’, metaphorically, but the Jewish people are most certainly loved by God.]
    +++
    God’s purpose for us [for Christians, and for all mankind] still *follows* that path which the Jewish people must walk today.
    e.g.
    Do we Christians think that Jesus was talking to ‘Christians’ ??? when he said;
    “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
    Matthew 24:6-10
    When Jesus spoke those words, he was *not* speaking to ‘Christians’.
    Remember that Jesus was a Jew, Jesus was Torah observant, and a Torah teacher, AND, what were Jesus own words [Matthew 15:24 ! ] ???
    Jesus words, were directed to the Jewish people.
    I said, “God’s purpose for us [Christians and for all mankind] still follows that path which the Jewish people are walking today.”
    If any Christian cannot see that, then they need to open their Bible, and read it!, and pray.
    The fate of Christians and the Jewish people, are bound together. [Ezekiel 37:16-19]
    We Christians are to stand with our brethren, AND, to separate ourselves from the world.
    Why???
    Because God has drawn a [spiritual] ‘line in the sand’ in the world.
    Can’t you see what that ‘line in the sand’ in the world represents, and, what it is???
    The God of Israel is separating those who love truth, from those who love lies and unrighteousness.
    The harvest is almost upon us.
    Moses knew.
    “O that they [my people] were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!”
    Deuteronomy
    Jeremiah 4:22
    For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.

    Reply
  • David Custis Kimball 08/26/2010 at 22:33

    Here is the mastermind of the Cordoba Project in NYC, where the landing gear fell from the sky. Listen to him.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-hqVOLEgec&feature=player_embedded
    Hear him; it is a game that he plays with us, this man of Allah… what’s his name, Rauf? …and his game likened to American football, ‘chess in motion in 4 space.’ Oh he is a wise one, a BS degree in Physics from Columbia U. They should be so proud. Every move analyzed from a complex Game Theory (yes I studied graduate school at Wash. U. in Operations Research).
    NYC’s Cordoba, like the ‘Temple Mount’ of Jerusalem, like Cordoba, Spain where non-islamics paid extra taxes and got menial jobs … of course unless they were great masters, and then they got to give it to some Schlep of Islam to slobber over.
    He gets Mad. Albright to support his Hamas alliance, and Hamas will keep Hezbollah at bay ..(oh sure) and Iran they are not even Arabs… so regional of tribal origin….But they do recognize power. Nuclear power perhaps? Well not from a Jew. Mad. Albright will gladly give up Israel… why not. To see a greater alliance?
    No it is a game to capture the wealth, the heart, the mind of free, great peoples … not all but every great and so like cannibals they will consume them with fear or whatever and force the next to what to whom… they haven’t a clue. It is a game after all. Just win each piece; worry about who has what later.
    I know of Skyscrapers from H.A. Spurr, my grandmother’s brother. He invented them… or those that will stand. Osama did not aim at 40 Wall St. or the Empire State Building… for they would have stood, cutting the plane into shards that would be lethal enough. These two buildings surrounded the steel structure in stone or concrete; they installed knee braces to stiffen each connection, while making it fly in the wind. Spurr was called when the B29 hit the Empire in 1947 in a foggy morning, and it created a large hole in the building, even severing the cables in the Otis elevators, but because of the surrounding rectangular tube structure the lady in the elevator falling over 60 floors survived.
    I know that Osama was a Civil Engineer, who had a full set of plans for the World Trade Center, for some of the Bin Laden Construction Company actually worked on the structure, and knew it’s flaws. But it took a 2nd blow to knock it down and 8 years, while his blind sheik was in prison under the Diddling Slick Willie, who would try to arrest his own development if he thought it would help him get away with anything.
    The game is Iran vs. Hamas and the Bro. Hood, yea, those Nazi buddies that the CIA was all agaga about.
    It’s a game. So are animals that are hunted. Beware. Run and hide. Or not.

    Reply
  • anonymous 08/29/2010 at 13:51

    John Hagee is welcome to personally make a donation to any political group he likes but his ministry is limited to 5% of its budget to do so. Otherwise he loses his non-profit status and has to pay taxes on his received donations. So please all you messiah devotees quit making the American taxpayer pay for your pet projects and just pay taxes like the rest of us.

    Reply
  • Anonymous 08/30/2010 at 20:47

    Caroline, please stop calling Palestinian Arabs just Palestinians.
    You are harming Israel and Jews
    Z. V. Boston

    Reply
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