Dueling Professors: Goldmeier Vs. Plaut
Professor Steven Plaut is usually clearheaded and not given to glittering generalities or hyperbole, but not so in his April 16 op-ed article, "Yet Another Case of Leftist Treason."
First, he accuses Haaretz and an IDF intelligence officer of having committed "treason and espionage" by publishing secret and suppressed military policies. That's what a free press does in a democracy. If it were not for the Pentagon Papers, America would never have known the true extent of the cover-ups and criminal deeds of its leaders during the Vietnam War. Ms. Kamm did not pass these documents along to an enemy, but to a newspaper whose loyalties to the state are no less honorable and worthy than Plaut's own despite its seeking different roads to peace and prosperity for Klal Yisrael.
Second, to try to discredit Kamm by lumping her in with spies and real traitors like Vanunu, Bishara, and Kleinberg, who transferred classified information to enemies sworn to destroy Israel, is mean-spirited and intellectually dishonest. And Plaut's use of the term "kibbutz-born" to describe a Jewish communist is a smear that sickens me. Just think of all the kibbutz-born Jews who have so valiantly defended the country since 1948 as the core of the IDF, while the religious community largely avoided army service.
Most disgusting of all, Plaut attempts to link Haaretz to English media that were sympathetic with Nazi Germany, and calls on the government to shut it down. Should Yitzhak Rabin have shut down right-wing newspapers during his term in office or, better yet, dismissed professors like Plaut from their university jobs because of their hard-line views? Chas v'shalom. Do we only want to hear from our supporters and never government critics? Is that how we define democracy?
Finally, Plaut applauds the Israeli military for planning to ignore the Supreme Court's ruling prohibiting targeted assassinations of terrorists. Plaut may disagree politically and know of a legal basis that justifies his position, but he is not the final arbiter of law in a democracy. It is the courts that set the rule of law. We abhor it when certain rabbis - whether they are kippa seruga, black hat, or Neturei Karta - tell Israeli soldiers to disobey orders. To claim "The court has no legitimate standing to dictate to the military how it should pursue its tasks" suggests that generals should run the country. Does Plaut really want to make Israel just another banana republic or worse?
Dr. Harold Goldmeier
Editor's Note: Dr. Goldmeier is a former research and teaching fellow at Harvard University.
Steven Plaut Responds: First of all, Dr. Goldmeier objects to my comparing Anat Kamm to other far-leftist Israeli spies and traitors because Kamm claims to believe she was acting morally. Well, there is no doubt that all other traitors and spies he mentions also thought they were behaving ethically and struggling for a better world. Jihad Jane and Taliban John did also. Ethel And Julius Rosenberg claimed to be acting for a better future and doing nothing more than "whistle blowing" to stop America's nuclear "militarism." So what?
Second, it was not the right of Haaretz and Kamm to decide whether the Israeli army could legitimately pursue targeted assassination of terrorists. Who elected them? As it turns out, Israel's own leftist attorney general, Mani Mazuz, just ruled that the earlier Israeli Supreme Court ruling cited by Kamm in her defense does not even preclude such targeted assassinations, and so the army's "secretly" planning them was hardly illegal.
Of the more than 2,000 secret documents Kamm and Haaretz stole and leaked, not more than one or two even dealt with targeted assassinations of terrorists. So why were the rest stolen? Kamm and her Haaretz handler were not trying to expose "illegal" military activities - they were explicitly trying to harm the Israeli military and expose its operations for all, including hostile powers, to see. When Kamm passed them on to a radical Haaretz journalist, did she think he was going to use them to wrap gefilte fish?
In contrast with Goldmeier's ridiculous claim that journalists have an unrestricted "right" to harm the military interests of their own country, neither President Roosevelt nor Prime Minister Churchill accepted such an idea in World War II, and both happily jailed those suspected of espionage. Both countries had anti-sedition laws and anti-espionage laws, which Israel might be well advised to imitate.
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, shut down hundreds of Copperhead newspapers, and expelled traitors from the country, including Senator Jesse Bright. The Rosenbergs were not granted human rights prizes by the United States, they were executed.
Goldmeier also has problems with the mere mention of the backgrounds and connections of anti-Israel radicals. No doubt he would object to anyone mentioning Noam Chomsky's ties to Holocaust deniers or the Mufti's ties to Hitler. The kibbutz background of the spy Udi Adiv's is not only relevant to Adiv's espionage crimes, it's critically instructive as well.
What I wrote about Haaretz was timid and mild compared with what others have written, including Maariv editor Ben Dror Yemini in the Jerusalem Post on April 20. I did not mention, but probably should have, that one-quarter of the ownership shares of Haaretz today belongs to the German DuMont Schauberg group, which Der Spiegel and other mainstream media outlets claim collaborated with the Nazis in World War II.
Goldmeier intentionally distorts and misrepresents what I said about the Supreme Court and its judicial activism. By challenging the right of the court to micro-manage the decisions and strategies of the Israeli military and the military's civilian masters in the executive branch, Goldmeier says I am advocating rule by generals. Actually, I am advocating rule by voters. Voters should be the final arbiter of power, not anti-democratic judicial activist tyrants in robes.
The Israel voter has never granted the Supreme Court the right to interfere with the military's operations that defend Israeli civilians from terrorists. That has not stopped the court activists from doing so. The Israeli voter elected representatives and an executive that overwhelmingly approve of targeted assassinations of terrorists (polls indicate that almost all Israeli Jews approve of those measures). The Israeli Supreme Court judges who advocate judicial activism claim it does not matter what voters want. Like them, Goldmeier would substitute his own feel-good sentiments for the will of the voters.
The Death Of Academic Discourse
By: Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D.
Date: Wednesday, April 28 2010
Of the many intellectual perversions currently taking root on college campuses, perhaps none is more contradictory to what should be one of higher education's core values than the suppression of free speech.
With alarming regularity, speakers are shouted down, booed, jeered, and barraged with vitriol, all at the hands of groups who give lip service the notion of academic free speech - and who demand it when their speech is at issue but have no interest in listening to, or letting others listen to, ideas that contradict their own world view.
Earlier this year, two Israeli officials, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren had the unpleasant experience of confronting virulent anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian Muslim students whose ideology on academic debate seems to be "free speech for me, but not for thee."
Ayalon, who spoke at Oxford University, had his speech interrupted by several audience members, including one who yelled incessantly and called Ayalon a "racist" and "a war criminal" while waving a Palestinian flag, another student who loudly read passages of the incendiary Goldstone report, and a third student who remained standing for the entire balance of the lecture while she hurled anti-Israel invective.
The genteel, soft-spoken Ambassador Oren did not fare much better during his visit to the University of California at Irvine, a notorious hotbed of radical anti-Israel sentiment. During the aborted speech to some 500 people about U.S.-Israel relations, which was loudly interrupted ten times, boorish hecklers screamed over Oren's talk such profound observations as "Michael Oren, propagating murder is not an expression of free speech," "I accuse you of murder," "How many Palestinians have you killed?" and "Israel is a murderer."
Oren is hardly what even his staunchest critics could consider an Islamophobe eager to trample Palestinian aspirations. A Columbia and Princeton graduate, he is the author of two seminal books on the Middle East - Six Days of War and Power, Faith and Fantasy. He is at least as qualified to speak about the Israeli/Palestinian situation as the raucous, boorish students who had decided, in advance of his UC-I appearance, that he was morally unfit to even appear on their campus.
Even after he took a 20-minute recess to let the crowd cool off and regain its collective composure, his return to the podium was greeted with more volleys of invective, shouting, and speech-stopping bombast from the Muslim students, eleven of whom - eight from UC-Irvine (including the Muslim Student Union president) and three from UC Riverside - were eventually escorted out of the hall and arrested.
The fact that UC-I's habitually craven administrators, led by Chancellor Michael Drake, were even motivated enough by the students' errant behavior to have them ejected from the event is a promising sign.
While the university has always claimed to be dedicated to encouraging debate and scholarly inquiry by letting the Muslim Student Union mount annual hate-fests to demonize and vilify Israel and Jews, the MSU has effectively hijacked all discussion of the Middle East on campus, and its events are not platforms at which opposing views are aired and discussed.
As is frequently the case when speaking about the Israel/Arab conflict, the discussion often glosses over the real problems of Palestinian culture, politics, and society (including its cult of death), and focuses all criticism on the perceived defects of Israel, Zionism, and Jewish power.
This notion that pro-Israel speakers and scholars do not deserve, on a moral or intellectual basis, an opportunity to participate in scholarly debate is a dangerous one, even if it comes from tendentious students. It starts with the assumption that Israel, because of its perceived moral defects and its oppression of the hapless Palestinians and the theft of their lands, does not even have the right to participate in intellectual debate, that academic free speech in Israel's case can be modified and is not absolute.
And while Muslim students and other campus radicals have, at UC-I and other college campuses, seen to it that speech they do not approve of, spoken by people with whom they disagree, is shut down with the "heckler's veto," they have never missed an opportunity to invite their own stable of slimy, anti-Israel, anti-U.S. speakers.
A closer look at the ideas tossed about by some of the Muslim Student Union's invited guests suggests both the moral incoherence and intellectual debasement that characterizes the human output of these events.
Amir-Abdel Malik-Ali, for instance, former Nation of Islam member and convert to Islam, has been a ubiquitous, poisonous presence on the Irvine campus who never hesitates to castigate Israel, Zionists, Jewish power, and Jews themselves as he weaves hallucinatory conspiracies about the Middle East and the West.
Speaking in May 2006 from a podium with an execrable banner reading "Israel, the 4th Reich," Malik-Ali referred to Jews as "new Nazis" and "a bunch of straight-up punks."
At a 2008 event, he claimed that "Groups like Hamas and Hizbullah" are not the real terrorists at all. No, the actual "terrorists are the United States; the terrorists are Israel!"
Another odious guest speaker who regularly makes appearances on the hate-fest circuit is Muhammad al-Asi, a Muslim activist from Washington, D.C., who has written that "The Israeli Zionist are [sic] the true and legitimate object of liquidation."
Just months after 9/11, al-Asi hurled similar invective at Jews, in the context of Israeli oppression of Palestinians. "You can take a Jew out of the ghetto," he said, "but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew, and this has been demonstrated time and time again in Occupied Palestine."
The MSU is entitled to hear whatever opinions it desires. It is not, however, entitled to prevent other views from being heard on campus merely because pro-Palestinian students have decided they will not recognize the very existence or legitimacy of Israel or hear the ideas of individuals who are able to explain the Israeli side of the argument.
University officials need to make clear their campuses will allow many different views and perspectives and not countenance the exclusion of unpopular thought from the proverbial marketplace of ideas.
Concern for the Palestinians may be a commendable effort, but the exclusion and demonization of Israeli speakers and government officials as a tool for seeking social justice for that one group "represents a profound betrayal of the cardinal principle of intellectual endeavor," observed commentator Melanie Phillips, "which is freedom of speech and debate," something universities should never stop diligently defending. And they should certainly never abandon that pursuit to the baleful whining of ideological bullies intent on suppressing the views of others.
Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., is director of Boston University's Program in Publishing. He just finished writing "Genocidal Liberalism: The University's Jihad Against Israel," a book about the worldwide assault on Israel taking place on college campuses.
(He also has a really cool tux!!)
3. http://www.wiesenthal.com/toptenlies The Top Ten Lies about Israel
An Open Letter to American Jews
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
5. Challenging Obama over Jerusalem: http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/43512
6. But, Abu Mazen is a Man of Peace.
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, "Second Thought"
YnetNews, April 27, 2010