by Ran Farhi (5/11/2006)
The 'Israel Academic Monitor' website contains important
information on the Post-Zionist bias that exists on a number
of campuses in Israel.
The website - popular among students - encourages a lively
intra-academic debate and exposes the cynical abuse by those who turn
Israeli Academia into weapon to be used against their country.
By Ran Farhi
In one of his impassioned speeches, Berl Katzenelson,
the Labor Movement's ideologue,
wondered: "Is there a nation among the nations, whose
people have become so warped,
both intellectually and mentally, that all their nation has done,
all its creations and all its sufferings,
are hated and despised, and everything done by
their enemy, every robbery, every killing, and every rape,
fills their mind with admiration and addiction?...
And here the germs of self-hatred shall adhere to it…
to the point where it craves salvation from the
Palestinian Nazis, those that have managed here,
in this country, to combine European zoological Anti-Semitism
with the Eastern ardor for the dagger"
(from his speech on the 1st of May 1936).
These propheticwords by Katzenelson have clear relevance for us to this day.
If we examine the conduct of Israeli academics during
the last two decades, we witness the creeping domination of some
Radical Left-Wing and Post-Zionist professors over campus discourse
and their recruitment of the campuses behind anti-Zionism.
A Cynical Manipulation of Israeli Academia
On the 19th of October, the Ynet.co.il web site run by Yediot Ahronot,
Israel's largest daily, published an article on a group monitoring the
professors belonging to the Post-Zionist camp in Israeli universities.
The watchdog group calls itself the "Israeli Academia Monitor".
The group's website is managed and operated by
Dana Barnett and Prof. Steven Plaut. Their main objective is to expose academics
whose salaries are paid by the State but who spread lies about the State of
Israel around the world. They also attempt to expose the
contents of those professors'
courses who, under the guise of a "different view of Israeli reality,"
disseminate anti-Israeli classroom propaganda to their students.
The website, arranged by campus, contains the list of Post-Zionist professors
in every university in Israel. It contains a list of articles written and published
by some of these professors, and another list of articles written against them.
The website's coverage encompasses all of these professors' political activities
– including their promoting and sponsoring petitions
supporting the 'Radical Left-Wing Military Service Refuseniks' on campus, etc.
The reporter Anat Bershowski managed, in the process or writing her Ynet article,
to convince some of the professors catalogued on the site
to admit that they are abusing
Israeli academia in order to propagate their political agenda.
Thus, for example, Dr. Lev Greenberg,
the chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department
at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, admitted that
he aims to get students to
"reconsider" the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He speaks of students who have come to his classes
"with Right-Wing opinions,
developed with little forethought, and changed their minds".
Even the most famous 'star' amongst those
professors defaming the State of Israel across Europe,
Dr. Ilan Pappe from the University of Haifa,
admitted that he has a political
agenda expressed in the courses he teaches,
such as his course on the "Nakbah [disaster] of 1948",
which he defines as his true vocation: "Where, if not in
academia, should I promote my political agenda?",
asks Dr. Pappe, with surprising naïveté.
The article also mentions a study
carried out by Dr. Udi Lebel, a lecturer in political
psychology at the
Ben Gurion Institute in Sde-Boker and Sapir College, which describes this
trend as being on the increase. Dr. Lebel examined the reading materials
(syllabi) of the introductory courses in the Social
Sciences and Humanities at
over the last decade, and found a significant increase in classes supporting
Post-Zionist ideas. Lebel adds that some of the professors abuse their
academic freedom in order to imbue
their students with their radical political messages. According to Dr.
Lebel, "The [typical] Israeli student of political science is exposed to
critical theories, but not to the idea of nationalism or to Zionist Theory".
A Similar Condition Exists in the United States
The American-Jewish journalist
David Horowitz, a neo-conservative former Marxist,
has been for several years engaged in a similar
struggle in the
United States, focused on the Radical-Left Wing bias in
American universities concerning their treatment
of America-Israel relations. This year,
he has even published a book called "The 101 Most
Dangerous Professors in the United States", in
which he discusses those professors
who have abused their academic position in order to
promote, inter alia, anti-Capitalist, anti-American and
anti-Israeli ideologies, often accompanied by their
supporting Islamic terrorism or sympathizing with its motives.
Thus, for example, there are
Ward Churchill, a professor at the University of Colorado,
who has praised Bin-Laden and called the victims of 9/11
'little Eichmanns' and the linguist Noam
Chomsky, who supports the Hizballah terrorist organization,
and many others. Horowitz has also prepared an Academic
Bill of Rights, which aims to prevent
political bias in universities. In his recommendations, he
also demands the exclusion of politics from the world of academia.
The "Frontpage Magazine" website,
established by Horowitz, is used not only for tracking
Left-Wing radicalization on campuses, but also for exposing
such radicalization in the Democratic Party,
in the media, and on various websites. In his letter of support
for Israel, published
during the Second Lebanese War, Horowitz provides several
examples of statements which de-legitimize the existence of the
State of Israel, such as the Daily Kos' [a liberal-leftist
blog] article entitled "Let us Imagine a World Without Israel".
The Ynet article is no doubt
very important for providing some well-deserved coverage of a
monitoring group, which might as well be called 'Academia -Watch'
[a play on the name
Checkpoint Watch or Machsom Watch, a leftist activist group].
One would be hard-pressed to find any opposition
to the Post-Zionist professors in the Israeli printed media,
save that expressed by the Ma'ariv columnist
Ben-Dror Yemini and the academics Dr. Gadi Taub
and Prof. Amnon Rubinstein.
A Lively and Informed Intra-Academic Debate
The 'Monitor' site, which has already
managed to amass a significant amount of information, and
succeeds in placing the Post-Zionist bias in Israeli Campuses
squarely on the public agenda. In this respect,
the famous remark by Prof. Moshe Zimmerman, the Chair of the
German History Department at the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem, is particularly memorable. On the one hand,
Zimmerman identified with the Radical Left-Wing army refuseniks
(those refusing to do military service for political reasons).
But, on the other hand he told the
students enrolled in one of the courses he taught that he would grant
no extensions or considerations to any students who missed
classes on account of being called up for reserve military duty
in the occupied territories. This act was not only unethical
and unfair, but also
represented a severe abuse of the power given to a professor,
and was an attempt to discriminate against soldiers who have
fulfilled their legal duties towards their country.
In his behavior Prof. Zimmerman
has indirectly encouraged his students to break the law.
The website has recently become increasingly popular among students,
and has begun recruiting volunteers. This has sparked a lively
and informed intra-academic debate concerning the Post-Zionist bias on
Israeli Campuses. The 'Monitor' tracking group is acting wisely
by targeting professors who have crossed the line of legitimate
Zionist discourse by sympathizing with or supporting terrorism, or by
preaching against the legitimacy of Zionism, or by denying the
legitimacy of the continued existence of a Jewish state,
while at the same time peddling the Palestinian narrative.
Hopefully, certain parties on campus may now
establish a Zionist alliance
between Right-Wingers, Centrists, and Moderate Left-Wingers,
and return Zionism to Israeli academic discourse, thus detaching
the Post-Zionists from the left-leaning Zionists. An important
reason why people should support this website is deterrence. When those
professors who have crossed all the lines of legitimacy, including
Dr. Neve Gordon, who raised his hands in triumph with Yasser
Arafat in his headquarters during Operation Defensive Shield, or
Dr. Ilan Peppe, who has encouraged the academic boycott of Israel),
understand that enough is enough and that there is someone observing
and monitoring their behavior, perhaps they will be more cautious?
This monitoring website represents an important step towards making
transparent the manner in which Post-Zionists among Israeli academia
distort and mold students' political awareness. It has the potential to
become the bedrock of an Israeli-Academic-Zionist counterattack.
Ran Farhi (5/11/2006)