Dear AABGU National and Regional Board Members, friends and supporters,
During the past few years, Dr. Neve Gordon, a tenured lecturer in the Department of Politics and Government, has been criticized on a number of occasions for expressing views that some believe are against the interests of State of Israel.
Recently, Dr. Gordon chose to participate on a panel at the University of Chicago with several American academics who are perceived by many to be anti-Israel. The student-organized panel, "In Defense of Academic Freedom," was held on October 12 to protest the tenure denial and dismissal of Prof. Norman Finkelstein, formerly of DePaul University . The panel has gotten some media attention and you may see an article about it, by Ben Harris of the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency), in your local Jewish paper or an Associated Press article which may appear in other news media. Ben Gurion University has expressed strong regret regarding Dr. Gordon's decision to participate in this forum and AABGU shares the assessment of the administration that he overstepped his authority when he portended to speak on behalf of the University, claiming that if Norman Finkelstein were at BGU he would have received tenure.
What follows is a statement from Prof. Rivka Carmi, BGU's president, regarding this matter. Should you be confronted with questions or concerns raised in relation to this issue we encourage you to refer to it in your response. As our biggest supporters and advocates, we look to you, our leaders and our most eloquent representatives, to help insure that the University's reputation will remain untarnished.
We respect Dr. Gordon's right to express himself within the boundaries of academic freedom, a value held dear at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev . However, Dr. Gordon is not at liberty to speak on behalf of the University with regard to policies of the administration and there is no basis what so ever to his statement about a hypothetical situation involving Norman Finkelstein and BGU.. Furthermore, all the views expressed at this panel by Dr. Gordon are his own and by no means represent the opinions or policies of the BGU administration.
--Prof. Rivka Carmi, M.D.
President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev takes pride in the fact that it has always protected freedom of expression. It is a pluralistic academic institution that includes more than 800 faculty members and researchers who represent a myriad of perspectives and backgrounds, including those from all sides of the political spectrum. Established in 1969 to realize David Ben-Gurion's dream of developing the desert, the University is the catalyst driving the development of the Negev and is where the pioneering spirit of discovery continues to flourish. It is a living manifestation of the Zionist dream, and should fill all those devoted to Israel with great pride.
We welcome any comments, questions or concerns.
Carol Saal and Doron Krakow