June 25, 2007
Professor Dany Leviatan
Tel Aviv University
Dear Professor Leviatan,
Today I received by mail an invitation to a "public event" with the title "Collapse of the Palestinian Authority? - Internal Crisis or Lose-Lose Situation" (the Program of the Conference is attached as a pdf file). The event is planned for Thursday, June 28, 2007.
I would like to draw your attention to the following facts:
1. Two of the sponsoring bodies of this event (The "Peres Center for Peace" and the "Friedrich Ebert Foundation") are overtly political organizations, with well-defined political agendas. For the purpose of this letter, it is of no significance whether this agenda is at the Left or Right poles of the Israeli political spectrum.
2. The third sponsoring body is the "University Institute for Diplomacy and Regional Cooperation". To the best of my knowledge, this is supposed to be a strictly apolitical body with a clear academic-scholarly character.
3. The "Peres Center for Peace" is an organization with a manifest political vision and program. Its Director General is Dr. Ron Pundak, known for his role in the Oslo Agreement and his active championing of a certain view of the reasons for and the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
4. The "Friedrich Ebert Foundation" is defined on its web site as: "The SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany)-associated Friedrich Ebert Foundation is the largest and oldest of the German party-associated foundations". Its obvious political character is most clearly enunciated.
5. The Representative of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Mr. Herman Buenz, is defined in a web site as "Director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Israel-Palestine", a most original definition of the sovereign State of Israel.
6. None of the four speakers listed on the Program have any academic status or affiliation. Three of the four are active politicians, with a view of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, heavily biased in one direction. The listed speakers are:
Mr. Kadoura Fares, defined on the web site as "a past Palestinian Authority minister; a close friend, aide and adviser to senior Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti" (serving a prison sentence for killing of innocent civilians).
Dr. Riad Malki, defined as Director General of "Panorama" and a former spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) (an organization founded before the Six-Day war and, thus, before there were any "occupied territories").
MK Chaim Oron (Meretz), a professional politician, with a well known political agenda.
Maj. Gen. (res) Dr. Yom Tov Samia, possibly a representative of a different view
The subjects of the talks to be given by the above-listed speakers do not appear on the program
7. The connection of the "University Institute for Diplomacy and Regional Affairs" to this clearly political event is not clear. There is no speaker from the Institute participating at the meeting. The only connection appears to be making the "Kes Hamishpat" auditorium available for what seems to be a "Non-University Event".
8. In May 2002, I wrote to Mr. Moshe Goldberg, Internal Auditor of Tel Aviv University, protesting against the use of the name Shimon Peres for naming the "Institute for Diplomacy". This name is not used on the present Program, announcing this meeting. However, the official Tel Aviv University envelopes, with the letter head of Tel Aviv University, define the "The University Institute for Diplomacy and Regional Cooperation" as being "founded by the Peres Center for Peace and Tel Aviv University". This is ousting somebody via the front door and letting him in by the back door.
9. It is also highly improper to have Dr. Ron Pundak, a political figure and activist, being a member of the "Executive Committee" of the "The University Institute for Diplomacy". The same applies to Dr. Tsvia Walden. Both have key roles in the Peres Center for Peace, not to mention the suspicion of nepotism.
I would like to voice my protest against the increasing politicization of Tel Aviv University. The University should keep away from political involvement and associations of any kind, be it with the Left or with the Right. Any such association leads to the perversion of the fundamental principles supposed to guide universities.
The event planned for June 28 is a repetition of the exploitation of academic freedom by the "Minerva Center for Human Rights", on the occasion of the meeting organized at the Faculty of Law on January 8, 2007, at which Ms. Taly Fahima was paraded in front of the audience.
The "Peres Center for Peace" and the "Friedrich Ebert Foundation" have the right to organize political meetings, as permitted by the laws of the free and democratic State of Israel. They should be prevented from exploiting the good will and trust of the Israeli academia for promoting a political agenda, the fate of which should be decided by the many means provided by Israeli democracy.
Edgar Pick, M.D.,Ph.D.
Director, the Julius Friedrich Cohnheim - Minerva Center
for Phagocyte Research
Head, the Ela Kodesz Institute of Host Defense
against Infectious Diseases
Incumbent, the Roberts-Guthman Chair in
Sackler School of Medicine
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv 69978
Attached: Program of the meeting of June 28, 2007
Profesor Zvi Galil, President, Tel Aviv University
Mr. Moshe Goldberg, Internal Auditor, Tel Aviv University