Maj. Roi Klein
Maj. Roi KleinIsrael news photo: file

Professor Yuri Pines, Head of the Department of East Asia Studies at Hebrew University, caused a stir among his students Thursday when he wrote in an e-mail message that he hopes the home of fallen IDF hero Maj. Roi Klein is razed.

Replying to an e-mail petition against the planned demolition of Klein’s home, Pines wrote: “I hope that not only the Major’s home will be destroyed, but the entire settlement, and that the mitnachablim will all be gone with the wind.”

Mitnachablim is a word invented by Israeli leftists as a slur against Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria. It is a combination of the words mitnachalim (settlers) and mechablim (terrorists).

“This is a completely un-academic response,” said a student in the East Asia Department, who was one of those who spread the petition. “Pines has the right to think whatever he wants and to delete the mail he received, but we were shocked by the harsh reaction from an academic whose salary is paid by a public institution.”

Pines told a Maariv reporter that he stood by what he wrote. “This is my position,” he said. “I did not reply as a lecturer but as a person with a political view. I favor a complete annihilation of the settlement enterprise and a return to the Green Line borders. The hilltop youth are my enemy.”

In an email interview for an online magazine nine years ago, Pines, who was born in the Soviet Union, is quoted as saying of himself:

I was... disgusted and astonished by the belief in Jews being the "chosen people", in the "eternal Jewish rights" and in the need of all Jews to gather in Palestine.

My refusal to accept all this brought me to the only political organization which was strongly anti-nationalistic, namely, the Communist Party of Israel. Even my anti-Communist background in the USSR could not prevent me from joining the party which rallied under the slogan of "Jewish-Arab brotherhood" and "two states for two peoples."

He also expressed implicit support for refusal of orders:

More philosophically speaking, I believe that the real loyalty is due neither to the country nor to the government, nor to any kind of imagined community, but primarily to one's own moral and ethical principles. One must do whatever is just, and not whatever is demanded by some government, even if this government is democratically elected.

A French soldier in Algeria, a US soldier in Vietnam, an Israeli soldier in the West Bank or in Lebanon may claim that he is serving his country, but in fact he is a criminal, and serves criminal ends. Wearing a uniform does not absolve you from thinking and considering what is appropriate to do, and does not absolve you from the highest sort of responsibility. In some cases it is better to "betray" one's country, and not one's self. Of course, you must be prepared to pay the price of your decision.