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Tel Aviv University
Unbelievable! Holocaust Remembrance Day at Tel Aviv University
by Steven Plaut
April 25, 2006

This is being written on Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. The sirens went off a little while ago, during which the entire country stood in silence in remembrance. Well, almost the whole country.

These are also the days in which the government of Iran at one and the same time denies there ever was a Holocaust, while building nuclear weapons in order to perpetrate a second one.

And just before Holocaust Remembrance Day began this year, a group of "post-Zionist" radical professors at Tel Aviv University decided that the time was apt to show their own solidarity with Iran and defend it from American "imperialist ambitions". Really.

Just a few hours before Holocaust Remembrance Day commenced, Tel Aviv University (TAU) held the official initiation ceremony for its Center for Iranian Studies, a new research institute on campus. Some TAU faculty members were upset about that. A group of extremist professors held a demonstration, together with Arab and Jewish student radicals, and sent an official letter of protest against the Center to campus authorities, as reported in Israeli dailies Haaretz and Yediot Acharonot.

First, in their letter, they expressed fear that the new center will be "misused" to paint Iran as a radical, anti-Semitic and pro-terrorism state, and grant legitimacy to Western demonization of Iran. Second, they expressed concern that the operations of the center could be exploited by American imperialism in justifying American aggression against Iran.

Finally, the radicals were particularly upset because a speaker at the opening ceremony was the Iranian-born Sha'ul Mofaz, who had been Chief of Staff of the IDF and then minister of defense of Israel. As such, Mofaz is guilty, in the eyes of the protesters, of illegitimately fighting against Islamofascist terrorism, rather than appeasing it and capitulating to the demands of the terrorists.

"We cannot remain indifferent, let alone on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, to statements coming from Tehran by one of the most extreme leaders since Hitler, who denies the Holocaust and calls to destroy Israel. We must take it seriously," Mofaz said at the opening ceremony.

The protesting faculty members expressed fears that the new Iran Center would have a "defensive-military" character (as opposed to an appeasing one). The protesters noisily sat in the hall in which the ceremony took place, holding signs with the names of Palestinians allegedly killed in Israeli shelling when Israel fired back at Kassam missile launchers and otherwise took retaliatory action for Palestinian terrorism. No names of Israeli victims of Arab terrorism were on the signs.

Numerous faculty and student protesters were then evicted from the hall by security guards for disrupting the ceremony and trying to prevent Mofaz from speaking. The Tel Aviv University "first amendment" was certainly on display for all to see. One extremist TAU professor, Dr. Anat Matar (an activist in supporting and organizing mutiny and insurrection among Israeli soldiers, who has been arrested in the past for violent protests against Israel's security wall) was behaving in such a disruptive manner that she was forcibly prevented by security guards from entering the hall at all.

The protesters screamed at Mofaz that he was a "war criminal" because he had commanded the army during operations against terrorism, and they carried signs threatening Mofaz with prosecution at the "World Court" in the Hague.

A letter signed by numerous anti-Israel extremist faculty members at TAU opposed the opening of the Iranian Studies Center altogether and demanded that Sha'ul Mofaz be prevented from addressing the opening ceremony. As in other countries, extremist faculty members at TAU are opposed to freedom of speech for those with whom they disagree.

The TAU faculty members who signed that letter included the above-mentioned faculty hooligan Anat Matar, as well as communist professor Yehuda Shenhav (currently a contender for a new job at Columbia University and inventor of the "theory" that Oriental Jews are in fact Arabs of the Jewish faith), Professor Adi Ophir (a founder of Peace Now who wrote on the anti-Semitic web site Counterpunch that Israel is conducting genocide), Professor Gadi Algazi (a founder of the seditious Taayush organization and fanatic anti-Zionist), Professor Israel Gershoni (an extremist from Middle East Studies who has promoted boycotts of Israel), Dr. Amalia Ziv (who teaches "lesbian Marxist theory" in Women's Studies at TAU and leads a "queer anti-occupation" group of Israel-bashing homosexuals), Eva Jablonka (an old- communist who has been active in calling for boycotts of Israel), and some others.

The Center for Iranian Studies was funded with contributions by Jews who had escaped Iran for the West and succeeded there. After the ceremony, Mofaz commented on the radical protesters who disrupted it and suggested that they could better spend their time be visiting the families of Jews murdered by terrorists. According to the news reports in Israel, the faculty protesters were of the opinion that defending democracy requires the suppression of Sha'ul Mofaz's freedom of speech.
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