Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The Israeli Left continues to Jihad against Freedom of Speech
Israeli Prof. Denied Honorary Degree for Being too 'Right-Wing'
Posted By Steven Plaut On January 22, 2014
Dimitry Shumsky is a young anti-Israel far Leftist whose diatribes litter the far Leftist fringe media in Israel, especially the leftist daily Haaretz. Since 2009, according to his own published resume, he has held a tenure-track appointment at the Department of the History of the Jewish People at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shumsky in Haaretz on January 20, 2014 joins the cat fight of the far Left in Israel over the decision by the University of Haifa to veto an honorary PhD to Prof. Robert Aumann.
The Nobel-Prize winning economist Aumann was denied an honorary PhD by the University of Haifa on grounds that he holds conservative political opinions. It was a great victory for the campaign of the Far Left in Israel against freedom of thought and freedom of speech. Prof. Ariel Rubinstein, a distinguished economist in Israel, denounced the decision and denounced speakers at a conference at Tel Aviv University who defended the operation of a thought police in the Aumann affair.
Rubinstein is himself quite far off to the Left. However his Op-Ed in Haaretz a couple of weeks back criticizing those who insist on a political thought police in Israeli academia triggered indignation in the caverns of the Ultra-Left. Among those chiming in was Tel Aviv University Professor Rivka Feldhay. You may recall Feldhay as the Tel Aviv University leftist that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted NOT be invited to participate in a state reception in Germany. The reason is that Feldhay had signed petitions demanding that Israeli soldiers engage in mutiny and insurrection to force the government to accept diktats from the Left about the "occupation." After decades of the Left insisting that everyone should have the "right" to boycott anyone, including settlements, Israeli universities, and all of Israel, the same Left suddenly was aghast that Netanyahu had decided to "boycott" Feldhay. (Actually he did not boycott her, he just chose not to invite her.) Feldhay responded with shrill hysteria in a number of Op-Ed articles.
Well the same Feldhay led the purge against poor Prof. Rubinstein for his incorrect thinking. She pronounced him a "radical right-winger" — this entirely on the grounds that he teaches economics and so understands why communism does not work. She was followed by other leftist sheep bleating their agreement with her.
Finally Shumsky chimes in his own two cents in Haaretz. His is an intriguing argument. According to Shumsky (no relation to Chomsky), people like Ariel Rubinstein are part of the mechanism of "occupation oppression" when they criticize the "occupation." Really! He writes there: "One of the most efficient ways to perpetuate the occupation and in so doing endanger the existence of Israel and Zionism altogether is to convert internal Israeli opposition to the occupation into an integral part of the occupation itself." Huh?
His evidence is that Rubinstein opposes the operation of Ariel University in the West Bank but also supports the freedom of speech for Prof. Aumann. As you can see, Shumsky's contorted argument is reminiscent of the "pinkwashing" charges against Israel, which hold that tolerance towards homosexuals in Israel is all part of a Zionist conspiracy to oppress "Palestinians." The logic of Shumsky's piece exceeds anything since that notorious MA thesis at the Hebrew University supervised by Eyal Ben-Ari (yes, the convicted sexual predator professor), which found that the fact that Israeli troops never rape Arab women is proof that the Jews are so racist. Shumsky, by the way, has a long track record of supporting the bi-national Rwanda-style "one state solution," in which Israel will cease to exist altogether. His presence on the faculty of the Hebrew University is quite instructive about the academic standards in effect there.
In a related matter, you may recall the heroic struggle of Yisrael Shiran. He was a high school teacher in Israel fired by Labor Party Minister of Education Yuli Tamir from his teaching job because he wrote a letter requesting that the political ideas of Yitzhak Rabin not be taught as unchallenged dogma in the schools. Rabin's ideas are controversial, especially regarding Oslo, and opposition to those ideas was just as legitimate as endorsement of them. Tamir would hear nothing of that. In her bolshevik response, she had Shiran fired. McCarthyist censorship by the Left at its best! Shiran later sued the Ministry of Education for his being fired and was awarded 400,000 NIS in damages.
I mention this because it sheds light on the newest cause célèbre of the Far Left in Israel. Led by Haaretz, the Palestinian newspaper published in Hebrew, which has devoted much of its pages to the story in recent days, the Far Left is suddenly all upset about the "suppression of the free speech rights" of a high school teacher in Tivon, near Haifa. It seems that Adam Verete made a habit of using his bully pulpit in his classroom at the high school to attempt to indoctrinate his students into his far-leftist anti-Israel ideology. A female student in his class filed a formal complaint, his case is under investigation by the authorities, and there are rumors of threats that he be fired.
Haaretz and its satellites have been having a field day. "Suppression!" they scream. "Fascism!" Hmmm.
Let us first note that any threats or investigations regarding Verete are because he was misusing the classroom to indoctrinate and preach ideology, not because he was preaching LEFTIST ideology. He would have been just as out of line if he were misusing his position in the classroom to preach any other ideology. Educators are not supposed to use the classroom for ideological indoctrination. The difference of course is that, if he had been fired for preaching, say, Kahanist ideology, Haaretz would be the first on the block to cheer and congratulate the authorities for the firing.
Haaretz only has a problem when far-leftists are prevented from converting their classrooms into indoctrination camps. When Ram Cohen, a high school principle in Tel Aviv, was practicing on-the-job indoctrination in communism and endorsement of the communist party, Haaretz defended him. When the Council on Higher Education attempted to shut down the Department of Politics at Ben Gurion University on grounds that it was a totalitarian substandard center for anti-Israel propaganda and indoctrination, Haaretz was out front defending the department. So was Rivka Feldhay. Not a single tenured leftist in Israel has spoken out against SLAPP suit harassments by leftists in Israel to suppress the freedom of speech of critics of leftists.
But guess which educator Haaretz and the leftist herd never uttered a single word to defend. You are correct; the answer is Yisrael Shiran. Not only Haaretz maintained a studied silence. When I posted a challenge on the "Israel Social Science" chat list of academics, calling on Israeli law professors to speak out in defense of Shiran and to condemn his firing, not a single one did. The position by the Radical Left supporting the decision by Haifa University to make Prof. Aumann a political pariah is no less instructive.
The radical Left in Israel, including the tenured fifth column, continues to promote the idea that freedom of speech should be restricted to those who agree with the radical Left. And them alone.
Afterword: Adam Verete is a member of the communist party in Israel and endorsed that party in his classroom. Haaretz this morning has a new spin. It claims that the director of the ORT school system in Israel, which operates the school in question, used to be a member of Naftali Bennett's party, the Jewish Home. In the "mind" of Haaretz editors, this proves that Verete was the "victim" of a school director who once belonged to a party disliked by Haaretz editors.
Why shouldn't teachers be permitted to raise ethical questions in the classroom and challenge accepted opinions, asks Haaretz today. You can see the editorial at http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.569877.
There is only one itsy bitsy problem with the Haaretz demand that diversity of opinion and challenges to accepted ideas be promoted by having communist teachers indoctrinate students in their classrooms in Israel. The one place where NO diversity of opinion is ever permitted, and where NO challenges to the correct thinking of the Far Left may be tolerated, is in Haaretz.
2. JNS News Service