Friday, July 09, 2010
Time to Close down Ben Gurion University?
1. Candidly Speaking: Stalinism at Ben-Gurion University
Posted by Isi Leibler
Just a few weeks ago, Professor Neve Gordon, head of Ben-Gurion University's department of politics and government, was again challenged for continuously engaging in initiatives calling for a global boycott of Israel including his own University.
The Rector of the University, Professor Jimmy Weinblatt, once more rejected efforts to discipline Gordon, insisting that he would retain his position despite the fact that he was using the University as a launching pad to demonize Israel. To do otherwise, he said, would be an infringement on academic freedom. Weinblatt was conscious of the problems he would face from faculty if he acted against Gordon.
On a previous occasion when this issue had arisen, the head of the Sociology and Anthropology Department, Professor Uri Ram warned:
Should he be fired as head of the Political Science department due to his political opinions, I shall call on all department heads in the University to resign as well, in support of Gordon and in protest of the violation of his rights, civil freedom and the University establishment in Israel."
A few days ago, an extraordinary event occurred at Ben Gurion University which barely caused a stir amongst the public or the media. Dr Yeruham Leavitt, a professor emeritus who has conducted a bio-ethics course over many years, was sacked from the University for having opined at a lecture, that homosexuality could be "contained", and that children of same-sex couples were being deprived of a "normal" upbringing.
One may of course dispute such an assertion. Yet the remark was not intended to offend. In fact, Dr. Leavitt stated:
I have nothing against the gay and lesbian community. Moreover during my years at the university, I always instilled the values of tolerance and liberalism."
However, Professor Riad Agbaria, head of the clinical pharmacology department, insisted that Leavitt's employment be terminated. "There is no room for personal opinions that offend some of the students", he wrote. The university responded with a statement emphasizing that "Ben-Gurion University sanctifies freedom of expression, but the lecturer blatantly crossed the red line." News reports also noted that Dr. Leavitt was a settler who resides in Kiryat Arba, presumably implying that this had relevance to his dismissal.
The firing of Dr. Leavitt exemplifies the absurd and obscene double standards being imposed by Israeli academic institutions. Universities are willing to sack a lecturer for expressing a view not considered politically correct by dominant academic establishment. Yet the same authorities insist on retaining tenure for a senior academic like Gordon, described by Alan Dershowitz as a man "who has gotten into bed with neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and anti-Semites... a despicable example of a self-hating Jew, and a self-hating Israeli."
Gordon has actually endorsed terrorist attacks, described a convicted Fatah terrorist as a role model for his children and called for a boycott of Ben-Gurion University as well as "apartheid" Israel. Yet the university administrators repeatedly reiterated that even if Gordon continued to use his position to undermine the state and collaborate with those seeking to boycott his own university, he would not be disciplined because that would represent a breach of academic freedom. Whilst the University did not consider that "red lines" were being crossed by Gordon, Dr Leavitt was sacked for having made a remark about problems facing children growing up in a homosexual household - surely a legitimate viewpoint worthy of consideration.
This episode demonstrates how a cabal of post-Zionist and far left academics have succeeded to create an environment in which tenured staff are conscious that they have a license to debase the State - and even call for the destruction of their own University in the name of academic freedom - whilst suppressing any views that are politically incorrect from their bigoted perspective. It is truly reminiscent of the universities in the former Soviet Union approved by Stalin.
The government and donors to Ben-Gurion University and other academic institutions should have their heads examined if they continue providing funds which can be exploited in such a degenerate manner.
2. This has got to be the funniest contribution in the jihad of the Israeli tenured Left against Israel's Minister of Education, after the Minister dared to exercise his own freedom of speech. Far Leftist Gabi Sheffer writes an Op-Ed http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/academic-silence-1.300684 ) in which he whines:
'More than ever before, critical academics in Israel are finding it hard to express themselves to the media. While in the past scholars could have relatively easily aired their views on radio or television, or in the printed press, now they encounter difficulties in having their messages widely heard. These developments have resulted in a kind of paralysis among academics, allowing politicians like Sa'ar to unjustifiably attack academia as a whole. The education minister's recent remarks will only exacerbate the deterioration of Israeli democracy itself.'
Got that? Israeli far leftists cannot get their seditious opinions published in the media. And where exactly does Comrade Sheffer write this? In Haaretz, which is 99.3% purely far leftist, a newspaper in which only leftist opinion is permitted but once a week a non-leftist appears so the paper can claim to be pluralistic. (And Yediot Ahronot is only marginally less Bolshevik)
3. Three cheers for the Minister of Education:
Education Minister defends decision to penalize Israel professors who back boycott
After petitioned over matter by hundreds of academics, Sa'ar says: Supporters of boycott are harming academic freedom.
"The only people harming academic freedom in Israel are the lecturers who call for a boycott of Israel," Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar told Israel Radio on Thursday.
Sa'ar's words came in response to a petition signed by 542 Israeli professors and academics calling on Sa'ar to not to carry through on his stated intention to take action against professors who support an academic boycott of Israel.
"If the higher education system in Israel wants to maintain a high quality it must also include opinions that are not acceptable to everyone, social and political criticism, and critical and even controversial research and instruction," the petition states.
Sa'ar said on Thursday that he would not backtrack on his plans and called the petition "hysterical" and "an attempt to silence contrary opinions."
The petitioners are "harming the institutions for which they teach and are funded by the citizens of Israel," Sa'ar said. "The question here is if there are absolutely no limits. Let's get rid of the double standards. Can everything be placed under the cover of academic freedom, including murder incitement?"
Petitioners include Haifa University rector Prof. Yossi Ben Artzi, Israel Prize laureates professors Benjamin Isaac and Yehoshua Kolodny, and former education minister Prof. Yuli Tamir, who is now president of Shenkar College of Engineering and Design.
The petition was initiated by the Forum for the Protection of Public Education.
Haaretz reported a few weeks ago that Sa'ar vowed to punish Israeli professors who back an academic boycott of Israel.
"When an Israeli academic preaches for academic boycott he crosses a red line," Sa'ar said at the time, adding that he discussed taking measures - mainly disciplinary - against these professors with the head of the Higher Education Council's Planning and Budgeting Committee.
Sa'ar added that he would also discuss such measures with the heads of the academic institutions directly.
The petition states: "We have different and varied opinions about solving the difficult problems facing Israel, but there is one thing we are agreed on - freedom of expression and academic freedom are the very lifeblood of the academic system."
"Israeli academia will suffer great damage if politicians dictate to it what is right and wrong to say, think, research and teach, and force it to adopt that kind of criteria for admitting, promoting or rejecting researchers and professors. Your statement about intending to use your authority to act against professors who support an academic boycott of Israel are causing just such damage," it says.
The petition also makes reference to the education minister's support of the recently distributed Im Tirzu movement report that claims political science teachings at Israeli universities are tainted with a "post-Zionist bias."
These reports, purporting to be scientific, have been distributed by "people pretending to care about Zionist values, but who are advancing under this guise a culture of gagging and intimidation on campuses," the petition says.
Want to send him a Yasher Koach? Write to: Ministry of Education
The Honorable Gideon Sa'ar
Minister of Education
Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports
Kiryat Ben Gurion, Jerusalem
Additional Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Director General of the Ministry of Education
Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports
Kiryat Ben Gurion, Jerusalem