Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Treason at Tel Aviv University:
Faculty of the hard Left



Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Law held a conference on January 8
entitled "Security prisoners or political prisoners?" According to the
original plan, all the scheduled speakers were from the Left, with some
coming from the extreme, anti-Israeli Left. When this triggered an outcry,
the faculty heads hurriedly added a couple of speakers representing
mainstream Israel and its institutions.

But that changed nothing.

As noted by Ben-Dror Yemini in Ma'ariv, the conference was entirely
political in nature, and one particular guest was given an especially warm
welcome: Tali Fahima, who was recently released from prison after serving
time for aiding Palestinian terrorists.

Yemini compared the Tel Aviv University conference to the Holocaust-denial
conference recently held in Teheran: "Hosting those that deny the Zionist
enterprise's right to exist in Tel Aviv University is not very different
from hosting Holocaust deniers in Teheran University. The pretext of
'academic freedom of speech' is starting to sound increasingly hackneyed
and hollow. Not only in Teheran... in Tel Aviv too."

"Scientific" conferences devoid of any balance are not exactly news in
Israeli universities. Conferences in the social sciences rarely invite any
speakers who represent the mainstream view, the one held by the vast
majority of Israel's citizens and Knesset members.

The novelty at the Tel Aviv University conference was its purpose: to
present Palestinian terrorists as political prisoners. In order to do so a
terrorist who had been sentenced to 27 years in prison for throwing a
Molotov cocktail at a bus was invited and given a seat on the podium in
the law faculty's Hall of Justice auditorium.

That is new. It goes without saying that it didn't occur to the faculty
leaders to invite on the podium, in addition to the terrorist, a victim of
the terror that targets Jews because they are Jews; because as we all
know, Jews are not entitled to human rights.

THE CONFERENCE had a number of other interesting aspects. An entire
session was devoted to the difficulties Palestinian families face when
visiting their imprisoned terrorist relatives.

Three abducted Israeli soldiers have been held by terrorists as hostages
for over half a year. Not only are their families not permitted to visit
them, but, in complete violation of international law, representatives of
the Red Cross have not been permitted to meet with them either. No sign of
life has been received from the soldiers, turning the lives of their loved
ones into a daily hell.

Would the Tel Aviv University Law Faculty be willing to hold a conference
spotlighting the violation of Israelis' human rights by Palestinian war
criminals? Don't make me laugh.

Yet another aspect of this "scientific" conference: It presented nothing
scientific - not a single research paper or academic position. What it did
present were political views coming from the extreme leftist camp - all
exactly as reported by Ben-Dror Yemini, who was there. Under normal
circumstances, a conference of this kind would be held in a political
meeting house or beer hall.

What grants this type of gathering the status of "academic freedom?" The
fact that it is held in the Law Faculty's auditorium and organized by
members of the faculty? Does a university building provide protection for
views - racist, fascist, anti-Semitic - that would otherwise be considered

These questions are not academic. This writer has supported and still
supports the establishment of an Arab college; he also authorized, in his
capacity as education minister, the establishment of two such colleges for
the training of teachers.

Would it be acceptable for such an Israeli Arab college to hold a
conference of Holocaust deniers, or one on the Protocols of the Elders of
Zion? Or to invite someone who preaches Nazism, simply because it was a
conference organized by an academic institution and held inside it? Based
on the precedent set by the Law Faculty of Tel Aviv University, the answer
would have to be yes.

I AM convinced that most of the faculty's lecturers would dissociate
themselves from such an outcome. I am also sure that most would distance
themselves from identifying with terrorists. Nor do I doubt that the
majority of faculty members are loyal to Israel and also serve in the IDF

What, then, led these people to lend their support to this conference? The
answer is that it the dominant fashion in Israeli universities. It's all
the rage. To be a post-Zionist is in. And anyone who dares not to follow
the fashion is out.

This fact reflects all the more seriously on the organizers of that
faculty conference. While one can understand those whose ideological zeal
leads them to concede all the academic principles of a balanced scientific
debate, there is no forgiveness for those who abandon these assets and
bring shame upon their profession merely in order to be fashionable. To
lie to oneself simply to gain acceptance among the fashionable
anti-Israeli circles is indefensible.

I write these words in anger mixed with pain. I was among the founders of
Tel Aviv University's Law Faculty, and its first dean. Among the other
founders were the late professors Ze'ev Zeltner and Gualtiero Procaccia,
and professors Yoram Dinstein, Daniel Friedman and Uriel Reichman. I am
convinced that not one of them could have imagined that the institute they
established would sink so low as to invite a terrorist - even one that had
served out his term - to speak on the podium in the Hall of Justice. It is
a shame and an outrage.

The writer is president of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.



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