- Born in Haifa, the son of German-Jewish immigrants who
fled during the Nazi period, noted historian Ilan Pappe left Israel in
summer 2007, telling London Guardian writer Chris Arnot he began "feeling
for a while like public enemy No. 1" for his anti-Zionist views and
supporting a boycott against Israeli universities, saying:
- "I supported (it) because I believe that without
pressure, Israel will not end the occupation....I believe that things would
change only if Israel receives a strong message that as long as the occupation
continues it would not be a legitimate member of the international community,
and that until then its academics, doctors and authors would not be welcome.
A similar boycott was imposed on South Africa. It took 21 years, but it
eventually led to the end of Apartheid."
- Now chairing Britain's Exeter University's history department,
he explained by the time he left, the Knesset publicly condemned him and
Israel's education minister, Yuli Tamir, wanted him sacked.
- In addition, death threats came by mail, email and phone,
and his picture once appeared in Israel's "biggest-selling newspaper
at the centre of a target," the caption reading: "I'm not telling
you to kill this person, but I shouldn't be surprised if someone did."
- An environment this hostile got him to leave, the same
one today afflicting other Israeli academics, opposing policies they don't
accept, nor should anyone respecting the rule of law, democratic freedoms,
and equal justice, endangered species in Israel for Jews - non-existent
for Occupied Palestinians and Israeli Arab citizens.
- On August 17, a Haaretz editorial headlined "Politruks
(Russian for political commissars) in academia," citing a report submitted
by the extremist hard right Im Tirtzu movement to the Knesset and Education
Minister Gideon Sa'ar wanting research prohibited unless it:
- "complies with the winds blowing in the Knesset
and the street....Evidently the report (wants to spread) fear in the universities,
further deligitimizing Israeli intellectuals, and undermining" free
expression, research and thought, Haifa University Rector/Professor Yossi
Ben-Artzi calling it McCarthyist material academia must reject to stay
- On August 10, Haaretz writer or Kashti headlined, "Im
Tirtzu threatens boycott of Israeli university over 'anti-Zionist' bias,"
- It threatened Gen-Gurion University of the Negev President/Professor
Rivka Carmi in July "to put an end to (its politics and government
department) anti-Zionist tilt" or face a donor boycott and campaign
to "advise political science students to stay away from the university."
Im Tirtzu (IT) gave Carni one month to comply.
- Heads of all Israeli universities responded saying:
- "No Israeli university has to prove its staff's
love of their homeland to any organization, and certainly not to a political
one that is trying to present a tendentious, manipulative document as 'research'
to advance its own public relations."
- Ben-Gurion's Professor David Newman, a tireless Israeli
academic boycott campaigner, said IT's threat is "a clear attempt
to threaten the university in an era of diminishing financial resources,"
calling its accusations "very far from the truth."
- IT charged 11 permanent faculty members for their "radical
left-wing" political activities, six for signing a letter supporting
refusal to serve in the military, and two research fellows for their "anti-Zionist
worldview." Professor Neve Gordon was included for advocating a "social,
economic and political boycott of Israel."
- In addition, IT called the department's course syllabi
heavily (tilted) toward "anti-national and anti-Zionist content,"
- The department's large number of "anti-Zionist"
faculty "arouses grave suspicions that the main basis for acceptance
into and promotion within the department is not professional, but political."
- Further, Carni was accused of "apathy that has enabled
an academic dictatorship to overpower academic freedom."
- Ben-Gurion University didn't respond directly, but called
the accusations "scandalous," saying they violate "everything
that is sacred to academia. The very act of responding to (Im Tirtzu) would
give this right-wing organization legitimacy." It deserves condemnation
- On August 19, Haaretz writer Or Kashti headlined, "Right-wing
groups join forces to fight 'anti-Zionist bias' in Israeli academia,"
- Besides Im Tirtzu (IT), Institute for Zionist Strategies
(IZS) founding chairman, Israel Harel, "recently drafted a report
that accused academic institutions of propagating 'post-Zionist bias' in
their sociology departments....The campaign....by the two groups has evoked
a firestorm of criticism from educators and university administrators,"
the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities stating:
- "In a democratic state, we must vigorously defend
with all available means the independence of academic institutions. As
such, we cannot accept attempts by external and foreign bodies to intervene
in appointing faculty members, determining curricula, and the manner in
which material is taught."
- Democratic freedoms have greatly eroded under Netanyahu's
extremist government, including by the Knesset's proposed Loyalty Oath
bill, requiring all Israeli citizens, including Israeli Arabs, swear allegiance
to a "Jewish, Zionist, and democratic State," its emblems and
values, and perform military or civic service as a condition for a national
identity card signifying citizenship.
- On July 20, Israel's cabinet approved it, Netanyahu praising
a way to maintain Israel's "Jewish and democratic character."
The Israeli Association for Civil Rights condemned it, calling it "racist
(and) dangerous." The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights
in Israel said it would impede family reunifications and pressure non-Jews
to support Zionism, effectively renouncing their heritage by doing so.
- Other human rights groups and independent observers call
Netanyahu's government Israel's most extremist ever, governing far to the
right of center, partnered with Yisrael Beitenu, Israel's ultra-right party
under Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an untranationalist/revisionist
Zionist, a man Haaretz called "unrestrained and irresponsible."
- A July 18 Haaretz editorial called the loyalty oath "an
attempt to light a societal fuse," saying forced allegiance amounts
to "tarring several large communities with disloyalty (unjustly) and
opening a dangerous channel for revoking citizenship," repressively
and arbitrarily, "though that may be precisely what a number of coalition
lawmakers would like most."
- It may also target dissident academics, Jewish ones,
unwilling to pledge loyalty to lawless Israeli practices or relinquish
their right to condemn them - to freely express opinions, bedrock democratic
values, without fear of recrimination, including loss of citizenship.
- Expressing concern, Tel Aviv University's Professor David
S. Katz said "we are entering a McCarthyite phase - and I do not exaggerate....There
is legislation being discussed that would limit freedom of expression in
universities. The education minister has expressed satisfaction with a
report that looks at the course content of professors, sniffing out 'anti-Zionist'
ideology. The Knesset Education Committee (backs it). It is very bad indeed,
and the universities have done little to reject this, apart from"
Haifa University Rector Yossi Ben-Artzi, "who was very forthcoming."
- Many academics are at risk, like Tel Aviv University's
Rachel Giora for strongly supporting the Global BDS (boycott, divestment,
sanctions) movement, backing Palestinian liberation, and being vocally
critical of Israeli lawlessness. Others like her include Hebrew University
Professor Nurit Peled-Elhannan, peace activist recipient of the Sakharov
Prize for Human Rights and Freedom of Speech, and one of the Russell Tribunal
on Palestine's founders.
- Also Professor Jeff Halper, co-founder and Coordinating
Director of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) who's
organized and led nonviolent direct protests and civil disobedience against
Israel's repressive occupation.
- Ben-Gurion University Professor Neve Gordon got death
threats for supporting BDS, more still for criticizing the Gaza Flotilla
massacre, saying "When I walk on campus people ask in jest if I am
wearing a bullet proof vest." Regarding loyalty, he says "the
appropriate chant is not 'No citizenship without loyalty!' but rather 'Loyalty
to every citizen!' "
- He and many others defend speech and academic freedoms,
hundreds of professors petitioning against Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar
intention to punish university lecturers and institutions for freely using
- "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....We have different and varied
opinions about solving the difficult problems facing Israel, but there
is one thing we are agree on - freedom of expression and academic freedom
are the very lifeblood of the academic system."
- State measures subverting them violate core democratic
principles, inviolable ones essential to defend, preserve, and challenge
anyone acting against them.
- Among those signing were Haifa University Rector Professor
Ben Artzi, Israel Prize laureates Professors Benjamin Isaac and Yehoshua
Kolodny, and former education minister, Professor Yuli Tamir. Netanyahu's
extremist government opposes them, intolerant of internal opposition, even
scholars, intellectuals, and universities demanding speech and academic
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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