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Three-Day Seminar at Ariel U: 'Intellectuals and Terrorism'

A 3-day seminar at Ariel University next week will explore the mysterious pull that terrorists and dictators appear to have over Western academics.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 4/28/2010, 11:00 AM / Last Update: 4/28/2010, 11:02 AM

A three-day seminar will be held at Ariel University next week, exploring the mysterious pull that terrorists and dictators appear to have over Western academics.

Entitled, “Intellectuals and Terrorism: The Fateful Pull. Theoretical and Historical Aspects,” the seminar will be headed by Dr. Helena Rimon, a scholar and translator who made Aliyah to Israel from the former Soviet Union in 1987. Researchers from the fields of history, political science, literature, and others are invited to take part.

Speaking with Arutz-7, Dr. Rimon noted that many academics have published research “defending” terrorism as having been brought about by the phenomenon of “historically dislocated individuals” – immigrants from country to country, from culture to culture, and from one sociological level to another. Marginalization of academic activity itself, and a deterioration in the level of university research in the social sciences, also contribute to the fact that many academics have taken to defending terrorist regimes.

“Intellectuals are not only exposed to the enticements of the romanticism of terrorism,” Rimon explains, “and not only seek defenses for it, but even encourage it.”

As examples, Rimon mentions Noam Chomsky’s defense of Cambodian mass-slaughterer Pol Pot, radical left terrorism of early 20th-century Russia, the downplaying of Stalin’s evils, intellectuals’ respect for the Chinese regime, and more. “This issue is nothing new,” she said, “but rather something that has been accompanying Western society since the beginning of the 20th century.”

Admiration for Guerillas
“Many Western academics go beyond admiring totalitarian regimes,” Rimon continued, “and even express admiration for guerilla groups such as the Baader-Meinhof of Germany, and of course the Palestinian terrorists – admiration from which we suffer here every day. Some Israelis even protested when the Socialist Party in Germany withdrew its support for the Palestinians when it realized where their terrorism was leading…”

She quoted a recent article “written by a Western scholar, saying that yes, many people were killed in the World Trade Center, but ‘who were they? Mostly office people who weren’t living anyway…’ This type of article gives legitimacy to terrorism.”

Why? Two Explanations
Why do intellectuals tend to support and admire terrorists? Dr. Rimon says she plans to elaborate on this at length at the seminar, but in short she believes there are two possible explanations: “For one thing, as Dr. Yoel Fishman has said, academics and researchers lack imagination, and don’t picture to themselves where terrorism will lead. It’s difficult for them to see that if terrorism becomes stronger, they will end up living in places where there will be no bread and no medicines… Another approach that has been advanced is that since the 18th century, Western society has been engaged in self-destruction. It is an approach in which one’s own culture is viewed as false and of no value.”