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Ben-Gurion University
Classroom Political Indoctrination

May 20, 2004

Classroom Political Indoctrination

Classroom Political Indoctrination by Leftist Extremists in Israeli
Universities
by Steven Plaut

In recent months Limor Livnat, the Likud Minister of Education, has
gone on a jihad against attempts by faculty members at universities and
colleges in Israel to misuse and exploit the classroom for purposes of
political indoctrination. In particular, she singled out Lev Grinberg, a
sociologist from Ben Gurion University and Avraham Oz, a theater professor
at the University of Haifa, as people who have abused their position by
attempting to indoctrinate students in their classrooms with their leftist
extremist political agenda. That however is not even the tip of the
iceberg of abuse.

There is nothing wrong with professors having political opinions, and
- this will come as a grand surprise to some of you - I actually have a
firm opinion or two of my own on matters of the day. But I have always
maintained a solid separation barrier between my political opinions, which
I feel free to express in the media and internet, and my classroom. The
simple fact of the matter is that very few, if any, of my students even
have the slightest idea of what my political opinions are, other than about
matters of economic policy (which I teach, and even then I give
Keynesians equal time for rebuttal), unless they stumbled on my
articles on their own on the web. None have ever suggested that politics
has anything to do with grading or performance in my courses and some of my
best students have been Arabs and Jewish leftists. Most of my students
would be astonished to learn that I am not a true believer in Oslo, that I
do not vote Meretz, and that I tend to support Republicans over
Democrats. There is no way they could learn any of those things about me
inside my classroom.

But Israeli academia operates under very different rules from those in
my classroom. Israeli universities have long been in large part North
Korean-style "re-education camps," in which politically incorrect
non-leftist opinions are exorcised from the mind of young
students. Israeli faculty from the extremist Left, especially in the
humanities and the soft social sciences (political "science", sociology),
see it as their sacred duty to utilize their bully pulpits in the classroom
to intimidate students who refuse to mouth leftist homilies. While such
bullying is familiar on American campuses, I suspect it is even worse in
Israel.

The perpetrator of an attempt at classroom indoctrination described
below is none other than Neve Gordon, the leftist extremist who believes
that Israel is a fascist, terrorist, apartheid state, whose articles are
published on nazi and Holocaust Denial web sites, and who apparently
believes freedom of speech should be restricted to leftists, while critics
of the Left should be sued in harassment SLAPP suits for "libel".

I would like to ask you to read the following eyewitness account of
just such an indoctrination session, held at Ben-Gurion University by
Gordon in recent days. If you are as outraged by this as I am, please
write to the Israeli Minister of Education and to the officials of
Ben-Gurion University, addresses at the end of this message. Please urge
them to take action against those involved in political indoctrination in
the Ben Gurion University classroom, and especially those involved in the
following incident.

Eyewitness report from a Ben Gurion University Classroom
by Joshua Kahn, student at Ben Gurion University
(he can be reached at orple@riseup.net)

The lecture began smoothly, with Neve Gordon giving a theoretical
explanation of human rights (including the fundamental human right of
free speech). It soon, however, turned very political. He presented a
slideshow about the "Separation Wall" and the injustices it causes to the
Palestinians. He made many mentions of land being "confiscated" by the
Israelis and the "humiliation" caused to the Palestinians due to lack of
movement throughout the territories. On his power-point presentation, he
mentioned that parts of the fence were electrified. However, I then
corrected him that they were just electric monitors. He conceded on this point.

My fellow students and I challenged him on his accusations and he
became frustrated and lashed back due to the questions. He said he was
more Zionist then any of us on the basis that he lives in Israel
(although some in the class, including myself, are currently making
Aliyah). He condescendingly remarked that we were just full of
American propaganda. He then requested that we stop asking questions
and try to learn something. I made a comment that Israel is in a war
and fences and separation are necessary. He then made a comment about how
during war millions of Jews were thrown in ovens. I asked him if he was
comparing the situation in Israel to Nazi Germany and he did not
answer. He then made another comparison of fenced in Palestinians and
ghettos in Germany. He also claimed that when Jordan took control of the
West Bank it was legal, but when the Israelis won the territory in war it
was illegal. At the end, I was able to approach him. I asked how he could
possibly justify standing in solidarity with Arafat after the Passover
seder massacre. He became agitated and admitted that the picture has
caused him troubles.

I then asked how he could sue another professor for exercising his
right to freedom of speech. He responded that we as Americans don't
understand that in Israel it is acceptable to sue in such a case for
libel and that in Israel his case is reasonable. I asked how he could
use the Israeli system for his own profit when he criticizes it so
greatly. He demanded to know if I thought he was anti-Semitic and if I knew
what Professor Steven Plaut had said about him. I responded by saying I
knew and could understand how people could come to that conclusion. He
said that both Professor Plaut and he himself live under Israeli law and he
has a right to use it to his advantage (even though he doesn't recognize
Israeli law with regard to the fence or other security issues). He then
said that Plaut should be responsible for what he said about Gordon and
then stated that Plaut "will pay". Another student shouted "Don't be so sure".

He left in a huff, seeming very frustrated, annoyed, and agitated.

(end of eyewitness report)

The eyewitness above is a student from overseas taking courses in the
political science department at Ben-Gurion University and the incidents
above took place in a course on conflict resolution in which Gordon gave
the lecture.

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