Thursday, December 22, 2011

University of London's Efraim Karsh Exposes Ben Gurion University's Pseudo-Academic anti-Israel Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities, David Newman

University of London's Efraim Karsh Exposes Ben Gurion University's
Pseudo-Academic anti-Israel Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities,
David Newman

Karsh in Hudson NY: "Betraying Ben-Gurion"

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Betraying Ben-Gurion

by Efraim Karsh
Hudson New York
December 22, 2011

It is ironic that Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), Israel's
only university bearing the name of the Jewish state's founding
father, and established in the ancient desert he dreamt of reviving,
has become a hotbed of anti-Israel propaganda at the expense of proper
scholarly endeavor.

So much so that an international committee of scholars, appointed by
Israel's Council for Higher Education to evaluate political science
and international relations programs in Israeli universities, recently
recommended that BGU "consider closing the Department of Politics and
Government" unless it abandoned its "strong emphasis on political
activism," improved its research performance, and redressed the
endemic weakness "in its core discipline of political science." In
other words, they asked that the Department return to accurate
scholarship rather than indoctrinate the students with libel.

The same day the committee's recommendation was revealed, Professor
David Newman -- who founded that department and bequeathed it such a
problematic ethos, for which "achievement" he was presumably rewarded
with a promotion to Deanship of the Faculty of Humanities and Social
Sciences, from where he can shape other departments in a similar way
-- penned an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post in which he compared Israel's
present political culture to that of Nazi Germany. "I will no doubt be
strongly criticized for compared making such a comparison," he wrote,

but we would do well to paraphrase the famous words of Pastor
Niemoller, writing in 1946 about Germany of the 1930s and 1940s: "When
the government denied the sovereign rights of the Palestinians, I
remained silent; I was not a Palestinian.
When they discriminated against the Arab citizens of the country, I
remained silent; I was not an Arab. When they expelled the hapless
refugees, I remained at home; I was no longer a refugee. When they
came for the human rights activists, I did not speak out; I was not an
activist. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out."

Even if every single charge in this paraphrase were true, Israel would
still be light years apart from Nazi Germany. But one need not be a
politics professor or faculty dean to see the delusion in these

To begin with, which Israeli government has denied "the sovereign
rights of the Palestinians"? That of David Ben-Gurion which accepted
the 1947 partition resolution with alacrity? Or those headed by Shimon
Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, and Benjamin Netanyahu,
which explicitly endorsed the two-state solution? Has Newman perhaps
mistaken Israel's founding father for Hajj Amin Husseini, leader of
the Palestinian Arabs from the early 1920s to the 1940s, who
tirelessly toiled to ethnically cleanse Palestine's Jewish community
and destroy the nascent state of Israel? Or possibly for Husseini's
successors, from Yasser Arafat, to Ahmad Yassin, to Mahmoud Abbas,
whose commitment to Israel's destruction has been equally unwavering?

There is no moral equivalence whatever between the Nazi persecution,
exclusion, segregation, and eventually industrial slaughter of
European Jewry, and Israel's treatment of its Arab population. Not
only do the Arabs in Israel enjoy full equality before the law, but
from the designation of Arabic as an official language, to the
recognition of non-Jewish religious holidays as legal resting days for
their respective communities, Arabs in Israel have enjoyed more
prerogatives than ethnic minorities anywhere in the democratic world.

To put it more bluntly, while six million Jews, three quarters of
European Jewry, died at the hands of the Nazis in the six years that
Hitler dominated Europe, Israel's Arab population has not only leapt
tenfold during the Jewish state's 63 years of existence - from 156,000
in 1948 to 1.57 million in 2010 - but its rate of social and economic
progress has often surpassed that of the Jewish sector, with the
result that the gap between the two communities has steadily narrowed.

It is precisely this exemplary, if by no means flawless, treatment of
its Arab citizens that underlies their clear preference of Israeli
citizenship to that of one in a prospective Palestinian state (a
sentiment shared by most East Jerusalem Palestinians). This preference
has also recently driven tens of thousands of African Muslims
illegally to breach the Jewish state's border in search of employment,
rather than to stay in Egypt, whose territory they have to cross on
the way. The treatment of mass illegal immigration (hardly the hapless
refugees presented by Newman) is a major problem confronting most
democracies in the West these days, where there is an ongoing debate
about what are the basic responsibilities of governments for their
citizens' wellbeing and the right of nations to determine the identity
of those entering their territory.

Even more mind-boggling is Newman's equating Israel's attempt to
prevent foreign funding of Israeli nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs) involved in the international Israel de-legitimization campaign
-- along the lines of the US Foreign Agents Legislation Act -- with
repressing political opponents by the Nazi regime. What "human rights
activists" have been unlawfully detained by the Israeli government,
let alone rounded up and thrown into concentration camps? On what
planet does the Ben-Gurion University faculty dean live?

But Newman is not someone to be bothered by the facts. His is the
standard "colonialist paradigm" prevalent among Israeli and Western
academics, which views Zionism, and by extension the state of Israel,
not as a legitimate expression of national self-determination but as
"a colonizing and expansionist ideology and movement" (in the words of
another BGU professor) - an offshoot of European imperialism at its
most rapacious.

And therein, no doubt, lies the problem with BGU's Politics and
Government Department: the only Israeli department singled out by the
international committee for the unprecedented recommendation of
closure. For if its founder and long-time member, who continues to
wield decisive influence over its direction, views Israel as a
present-day reincarnation of Nazi Germany in several key respects, how
conceivably can the department ensure the "sustained commitment to
providing balance and an essential range of viewpoints and
perspectives on the great issues of politics" required for its
continued existence?

Efraim Karsh is research professor of Middle East and Mediterranean
Studies at King's College London, director of the Middle East Forum
(Philadelphia) and author, most recently, of Palestine Betrayed.

Related Topics: Academia, Israel & Zionism | Efraim Karsh This text
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