Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Shut down the anti-Israel Department of Politics at Ben Gurion University
Shut Down Ben Gurion U. Politics Department
Israel's Council of Higher Education called to close the Politics
Dept. at Ben Gurion University. It has not been closed, but this
writer feels strongly that it should be.
From Prof. Steven Plaut
Some departments in the liberal arts universities in Israel operate as
anti-Israel indoctrination centers. In the departments of the
humanities and softer social sciences, college "education" includes
anti-Israel propagandizing and the preaching of Marxist
Functioning as the occupied territories of the anti-Israel Left, these
departments seem to hire and promote faculty members on the basis of
their anti-Israel activism.
Many of the leaders of the "BDS Boycott Israel" campaigns are faculty
members at Israeli universities. Sociology and political science
departments, law schools, and education schools are homes to the these
offenders. Many of these are exposed and documented at Isracampus.com.
Since the lion's share of the operating budgets of Israeli
universities comes from the government, Israeli taxpayers are being
forced to finance anti-Israel propaganda and anti-Zionist political
initiatives of tenured extremists, who in some cases openly seek the
annihilation of Israel itself.
Academic freedom of speech is also frequently suppressed by the
self-anointed defenders of Post-Zionist enlightenment. Invariably, the
tenured radicals demand "diversity," but never in the arena of ideas.
They seem to seek a diverse academic institution in which men and
women, Jews and Arabs, Ashkenazim and Mizrachim, all denounce Israel
and Zionism, promote Palestinian nationalism and socialism, and
unanimously boycott the academics working in the newly proclaimed
Ariel University located in Samaria.
The anti-Israel mischief of the academic Left is documented at length
in my article "Israel's Tenured Extremists," in the Fall 2011 issue of
Middle East Quarterly. Let me emphasize that all this has nothing at
all to do with questioning "academic freedom," but merely with
asserting the right of taxpayers to refuse to pay for anti-Israel
Arguably, the worst institution in the country when it comes to
anti-Israel agitprop (misrepresented as academic performance) has been
Ben Gurion University (BGU), although Tel Aviv University is a close
runner-up. And the worst anti-Israel department in all of Israel has
been BGU's Department of Politics.
An international panel of prestigious experts appointed by Israel's
Council on Higher Education (which oversees and funds Israeli
universities) last year called for shutting down that Department of
Politics altogether due to its openly extremist "activism," its
absence of pluralism and diversity of ideas, and its low academic
A few days ago an Inspections Subcommittee of the CHE submitted a
report on the department that repeated the demand that it be closed
Meanwhile, the anti-Israel Left has been racing to close ranks with
the BGU extremists. Haaretz has stepped in to defend preserving the
Department. The reason for this is that Haaretz itself is as extremist
and anti-pluralistic as BGU's Department of Politics. There is about
as much pluralism at Haaretz as there was in Pravda back in the days
No doubt the most notorious among the tenured anti-Israel faculty in
the Department of Politic Science at Ben Gurion University is Neve
Gordon. Most of his academic career has consisted of churning out
Bash-Israel propaganda with some Marxist diatribes, all represented as
scholarly research. Strongly opposed to freedom of speech for
non-leftists, Gordon is best known for his denunciations of Israel as
a fascist apartheid regime, one that behaves in some ways like Nazi
Germany, a state in need of dismemberment.
Gordon has been leading the campaign for a worldwide boycott of
Israel. Denounced even by BGU's own president, he serves as a
columnist for the Iranian state Holocaust-Denying newspaper and for
the jihadist Al-Jazeera. His articles also appear on Neo-Nazi and
Holocaust Denier web sites. His students have gone public and
complained that in Gordon's classrooms no pro-Israel opinion is
Gordon's mentor at BGU is David Newman, the Dean of Social Sciences
and Humanities (and sometime Jerusalem Post columnist). Newman, who
has granted Gordon control over budgets in the school, thus built the
Department of Politics at BGU into a monolithically homogeneous center
for leftist activism, one in which no Zionist nor non-leftist may
A lone Zionist faculty member in the department was fired several
years back. Newman is not a political scientist, but a geographer. He
may be best known for having helped produce an anti-Semitic
documentary for British Channel 4 Television about the cabals of the
Newman has been the leading voice in Israeli academia calling for the
suppression of the freedom of speech of critics of the radical Left.
Newman joined BGU President Rivka Carmi and Rector Zvi Hacohen in
circulating a memo a few days ago to all university students and
faculty pledging to defy the decisions of the Council on Higher
Carmi responded to the CHE demands with a few cosmetic changes.
The bottom line is that failure to close down BGU's Department of
Politics would signal the lowering of academic standards at BGU and
thus endanger the reputation of all of Israeli higher education.
To express an opinion, 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
The Council for Higher Education in Israel
(governmental body that funds and supervises Israeli universities and colleges)
Prof. Manuel Trachtenberg
Chairman, Council on Higher Education
POB 4037, Jerusalem 91040, Israel
Planning & Budgeting Committee Chairman
Council for Higher Education
P.O.B. 4037, Jerusalem 91040, Israel
2. From the Wall St Journal:
GLOBAL VIEW Updated September 17, 2012, 7
.Stephens: Muslims, Mormons and Liberals Why is it OK to mock one
religion but not another?
By BRET STEPHENS
'Hasa Diga Eebowai" is the hit number in Broadway's hit musical "The
Book of Mormon," which won nine Tony awards last year. What does the
phrase mean? I can't tell you, because it's unprintable in a family
On the other hand, if you can afford to shell out several hundred
bucks for a seat, then you can watch a Mormon missionary get his holy
book stuffed—well, I can't tell you about that, either. Let's just say
it has New York City audiences roaring with laughter.
The "Book of Mormon"—a performance of which Hillary Clinton attended
last year, without registering a complaint—comes to mind as the
administration falls over itself denouncing "Innocence of Muslims."
This is a film that may or may not exist; whose makers are likely not
who they say they are; whose actors claim to have known neither the
plot nor purpose of the film; and which has never been seen by any
member of the public except as a video clip on the Internet.
'The Book of Mormon' performed at New York's Eugene O'Neill Theatre
.No matter. The film, the administration says, is "hateful and
offensive" (Susan Rice), "reprehensible and disgusting" (Jay Carney)
and, in a twist, "disgusting and reprehensible" (Hillary Clinton). Mr.
Carney, the White House spokesman, also lays sole blame on the film
for inciting the riots that have swept the Muslim world and claimed
the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staff in Libya.
So let's get this straight: In the consensus view of modern American
liberalism, it is hilarious to mock Mormons and Mormonism but
outrageous to mock Muslims and Islam. Why? Maybe it's because nobody
has ever been harmed, much less killed, making fun of Mormons.
Here's what else we learned this week about the emerging liberal
consensus: That it's okay to denounce a movie you haven't seen, which
is like trashing a book you haven't read. That it's okay to give
perp-walk treatment to the alleged—and no doubt terrified—maker of the
film on legally flimsy and politically motivated grounds of parole
violation. That it's okay for the federal government publicly to call
on Google to pull the video clip from YouTube in an attempt to mollify
rampaging Islamists. That it's okay to concede the fundamentalist
premise that religious belief ought to be entitled to the highest
possible degree of social deference—except when Mormons and sundry
Christian rubes are concerned.
And, finally, this: That the most "progressive" administration in
recent U.S. history will make no principled defense of free speech to
a Muslim world that could stand hearing such a defense. After the
debut of "The Book of Mormon" musical, the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints responded with this statement: "The production may
attempt to entertain audiences for an evening but the Book of Mormon
as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by
bringing them closer to Christ."
That was it. The People's Front for the Liberation of Provo will not
be gunning for a theater near you. Is it asking too much of religious
and political leaders in Muslim communities to adopt a similar
It needn't be. A principled defense of free speech could start by
quoting the Quran: "And it has already come down to you in the Book
that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by
them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into
another conversation." In this light, the true test of religious
conviction is indifference, not susceptibility, to mockery.
The defense could add that a great religion surely cannot be goaded
into frenetic mob violence on the slimmest provocation. Yet to watch
the images coming out of Benghazi, Cairo, Tunis and Sana'a is to
witness some significant portion of a civilization being transformed
into Travis Bickle, the character Robert De Niro made unforgettable in
Taxi Driver. "You talkin' to me?"
A defense would also point out that an Islamic world that insists on a
measure of religious respect needs also to offer that respect in turn.
When Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi—the closest thing Sunni Islam has to a
pope—praises Hitler for exacting "divine punishment" on the Jews, that
respect isn't exactly apparent. Nor has it been especially apparent in
the waves of Islamist-instigated pogroms that have swept Egypt's
Coptic community in recent years.
Finally, it need be said that the whole purpose of free speech is to
protect unpopular, heretical, vulgar and stupid views. So far, the
Obama administration's approach to free speech is that it's fine so
long as it's cheap and exacts no political price. This is free speech
President Obama came to office promising that he would start a new
conversation with the Muslim world, one that lectured less and
listened more. After nearly four years of listening, we can now hear
more clearly where the U.S. stands in the estimation of that world:
equally despised but considerably less feared. Just imagine what four
more years of instinctive deference will do.
On the bright side, dear liberals, you'll still be able to mock
Mormons. They tend not to punch back, which is part of what makes so
many of them so successful in life.