Op-Ed: David Newman's McCarthyist Assault on Im Tirtzu
Prof. Steven PlautSteven Plaut teaches at the University of Haifa and is author of "The Scout" (available from Gefen Publishing House). More of his writings can be seen on the New Plaut Blog, as well as in numerous electronic and print newspapers.
Recently, in one of the worst judicial decisions in Israel, a left-leaning judge decided to toss out the defamation suit by the Im Tirtzu Zionist student organization against leftists who had labelled the unabashedly pro-Israel group fascists on Facebook, on a page called "Im Tirtzu-A Fascist Movement."
The judge tossed out their suit but not because he is a free speech absolutist. The judge ruled that the Im Tirtzu organization had "some similarities" to fascist movements. The judge's evidence? The radical left professor Zev Sternhell said so in testimony in the court. This is the same Sternhell who called upon terrorists to target settlers for murder and the judge in question has a long track record of issuing similar biased partisan rulings.
In the Jerusalem Post (October 1), the anti-democratic ruling by the partisan judge is celebrated by David Newman, who serves as Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben Gurion "University." Newman himself is a radical leftist geographer who is not a political scientist at all, but is responsible for turning the department of politic science at Ben Gurion University into the worst anti-Zionist indoctrination center in the country, a department in which no non-leftist is permitted to teach. The single right-leaning faculty member of that department was fired years ago for incorrect thought.
Newman himself has long defended the BDS (Boycott Israel) campaign of economic warfare against Israel. Newman helped make an anti-Semitic documentary about the Jewish cabal that aired on British television.
His diatribe on Im Tirtzu is titled "Hijacking Zionism," by which he means that the Zionist student organization Im Tirtzu distorts Zionism when it criticizes radical anti-Israel leftists, which it does.
Newman,praises the partisan judge who defamed Im Tirtzu as fascists in the biased ruling in question. Writes Newman: "During the trial, various expert witnesses were called upon by the defense. These included Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell, emeritus professor of political science at the Hebrew University and who himself has been the subject of violent attacks by right-wing groups, including a letter bomb posted to his house."
Sternhell, whom Newman says is a "an undisputed expert on European history," was not attacked by any groups at all, but rather by the mentally deranged Jack Teitel, who also violently attacked homosexuals, missionaries, the police, and others. The only "groups" involved with Sternhell were some that criticized Sternhell's radical extremist political opinions, which Newman has been claiming for decades is McCarthyism, calling for such critics must be suppressed.
In the same article, Newman attacks the NGO Monitor web site and organization, which exposes anti-Israel and anti-Semitic organizations.
Newman adds: "The right wing, such as Im Tirtzu and similar organizations, are often termed 'fascist,' while they in turn define the left-wing, pro-peace and pro-human rights groups as 'traitors,' 'self-hating Jews' and 'quislings' in an ongoing attempt to delegitimize and silence the voice of anyone who thinks differently than they do."
In Newman's view, radical anti-Israel propaganda groups propped up by funding from anti-Semitic sources are "pro-peace and pro-human rights,", although none of these NGOs have condemned terrorist atrocities against Jews nor supported the right of Jews to defend themselves against such atrocities. But Im Tirtzu is fascist when it points out that traitors, self-hating Jews, and Quislings are in fact traitors, self-hating Jews, and Quislings. Im Tirtzu has led the campaign against the New Israel Fund, questioning its sources of funding.
The Newman pontification about people who seek to suppress "those who think differently than they do" is the very same Newman who set up the Department of Politic Science at BGU in which no non-leftist or pro-Israel opinion may be expressed. That department is so biased and has such pathetically low standards of scholarship that an international panel of experts called for shutting it down altogether as it deals with politics instead of political science.
Finally Newman denounces the Likud government for attempting to break the hegemony of the left over the Council on Higher Education, which governs and funds Israeli universities, and which crticized Ben Gurion University's political science department, and for introducing school textbooks that give the Zionist, version of history and civics. He is concerned that "alternative" (meaning leftist anti-Israel) points of view will be suppressed by the Israeli "Right."