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Op-Ed: 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.
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 9:30 AM



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 pseudo-scholarship.

Functioning as the occupied territories of the anti-Israel Left, these departments often 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 these offenders. Many of them 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 agitprop.

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 quality.

A few days ago an Inspections Subcommittee of the CHE submitted a report on the department that repeated the demand that it be closed down.

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 of Brezhnev.

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 tolerated.

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 teach.

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 Zionist Lobby.

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 Education.

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.