IAM's investigative report, 04/12/07
By Joel Amitai
The degree to which Israeli far-Left academics continue to sympathize with the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza is material for the psychologist’s office. Clearly, Palestinian Arabs who have not committed crimes have the same rights as all other people. But polls show majorities of them supporting terrorism against Israel and denying Israel’s right to exist. It is strange, then, that these academics sustain their tender, unrequited feelings toward Palestinians even in the face of years of the most severe hostility on their part.
Even at the height of the terror war, when massacres of Israeli civilians were a regular occurrence, Israeli academics continued to vilify Israel and endorse Palestinian claims.
For instance, in the spring of 2003 a call went out for an “urgent conference” at Tel Aviv University called “An End to Occupation, A Just Peace in Israel-Palestine: The Role of Academia.” The announcement stated: “faced with new and staggering forms of Israeli violence towards
Palestinians in the occupied territories, we call on academics worldwide to join in an effort to make a difference.” In 2002, 458 Israelis had been killed in Palestinian terror attacks—a “staggering” total for such a small country; in 2003, the number was brought down to 213, which can only be called a relative improvement.
What made the difference was the stepped-up engagement of the Israel Defense Forces in the territories beginning in April 2002 after the Park Hotel massacre in Netanya. That fully legitimate, anti-terror activity by the army of a democratic state was the main factor saving Israeli lives and eventually bringing the terror down to the more tolerable levels experienced by most parts of Israel (certainly not the Gaza-belt
communities) by 2007.
But our academics, at the very moment their own and their loved ones’ lives were being saved, only saw fit to slander the defense effort as “Israeli violence.” Scheduled to speak at that disloyal conference were, from Tel Aviv University, Eva Jablonka, Anat Biletzki, Rachel Giora, Uri Hadar, Yoav Peled, and the late Tanya Reinhart; from Ben-Gurion University, Oren Yiftachel, Lev Grinberg, and Neve Gordon; from Haifa University, Ilan Pappe; and from the Technion, Jacob Katriel.
Indeed, in 2002 itself when the terror reached its most horrendous levels, a truly “staggering” total of about 300 Israeli academics signed a petition calling on their students to illegally refuse military service in the territories. Also that year a group of Israeli academics signed or expressed support for petitions at U.S. universities calling for divestment from Israel and from U.S. firms selling arms to it. Some of these academics, who seemed to want Israel to face the onslaught without weapons or any ability to defend itself—to be annihilated?—included Katriel, Giora, Nomi Shir of Ben-Gurion University, and Emmanuel Farjoun of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
And it was in October of 2002 that Menachem Klein of Bar-Ilan University gave a talk in Washington called “The Origins of Intifada II and Rescuing Peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”
“Israel argues,” he said, “that the IDF has reoccupied the Palestinian territories to prevent terror. . . .” Indeed, if that was merely an “argument,” what was the counterargument—that the IDF reentered the territories to plunder Palestinian villages? “Yet terrorism continues and Israel continues to demand that Arafat stop it, although Israel has said that Arafat is no longer in charge and that the IDF has taken over responsibility for security. This is illogical.”
First of all, terrorism was continuing because Israel was still—even after all the massacres of Israelis—fighting it with careful, limited means while the whole world, including the U.S. administration, watched and leveled constant criticism at just about every Israeli measure. Second, despite Klein’s disdain, this gradual approach did eventual drastically decrease the terror in most parts of Israel. Third, it may indeed have been “illogical,” even rhetorically, for Israel to demand any peaceful, constructive measures whatsoever from Arafat at that point.
But Klein’s instincts, instead of gratitude to the army for the work it was doing, were to carp, criticize, and condemn. He further asserted: “while Israel claims that it has reoccupied the Palestinian territories to stop terror, Israel’s reoccupation has increased it by motivating the Palestinians to expel the Israelis. It is true that the Israeli security services have stopped many terrorist operations, but overall, Israel’s reoccupation of the territories has encouraged greater Palestinian terrorism. In the meantime, the reoccupation has placed millions of people under curfews and closure and prevented them from working. Israel’s military occupation has largely replaced the Palestinian Authority and prevented the conduct of ordinary life for Palestinians. Yet Israel has accepted no responsibility for meeting the needs of the people by creating an Israeli civil administration to perform the functions formerly carried out by the Palestinian Authority. This is another anomaly.”
In other words, for Klein, Israel just couldn’t win. If it entered the territories to fight terror, it was just—so he claimed—increasing the terror. Yet, at the same time, he was calling on Israel to deepen its presence in the territories by setting up a civil administration.
Basically Klein could not identify with and support his country’s armed services no matter how horrific the situation that had finally led to their taking more substantial action.
That strange, indestructible sympathy these academics seem to feel toward the Palestinians may well mask a basic inability to identify with Israel. They could not join ranks with their country even when bombs were going off in buses and cafes, when there were repeated unspeakable scenes of strewn body parts and blood. Instead they called on their countrymen to refuse military service, and for other countries to boycott Israel. If they were free to do all this, we should surely have the freedom to raise the issue of their loyalty.