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Ben-Gurion University
IAM report on The Department of Government and Politics at Ben Gurion University biases against Israel

The Department of Government and Politics at Ben Gurion University Anti-Israel biases

By Rachel Avraham

A recent study found  that out of eleven professors in the Government and Politics Department at Ben-Gurion University (BGU), eight professors or 72 percent of the professors support Hadash and other left wing extremist parties*.   More worrisome, there is no serious debate to analyze and address  this professional failing.   Those that displayed great professional incompetence are still being promoted. The results of this reality in the Government and Politics Department at BGU is reflected by the fact that Prof. Fred Lazin, influential lecturer at Ben-Gurion University, admitted that he and his colleagues in the Department of Government and Politics supported keeping Dr. Neve Gordon as head of the department by a unanimous vote, despite the fact that he called for a boycott of Israel in the LA Times and offered to step down before the publication of his article if his colleagues felt that his comments would be too embarrassing for the university.    


An individual appraisal of each faculty member in the Department of Government and Politics at Ben-Gurion University proves thestudy's findings to be valid.     The Government and Politics Department was until recently headed by Dr. Neve Gordon, who in addition to openly supporting BDS, has protected Yasser Arafat's life when he was under seige by the IDF in Ramallah in 2002. Dr. Gordon was also the director of 'Physicians for Human Rights, Israel' during the First Intifada.  According to NGO Monitor, 'Physicians for Human Rights, Israel' is an organization that claims its raison d’être to be working to uncover “Israel’s mechanisms of bureaucratic violence which is hidden from the public eye.”   On November 9, 2009, "Physicians for Human Rights, Israel" signed a petition together with Adalah and Al Mezan where they argued against Magen David Adom ambulances having police escorts when they enter Arab areas, despite the fact that Magen David Adom ambulances have often been attacked in Arab neighborhoods. As a result of such radical activism, the Israeli Medical Association halted cooperation with 'Physicians for Human Rights, Israel'.   Dr.Yoram Blacher, president of the World Medical Association, referred to 'Physicians for Human Rights, Israel' as “a radical political group disguised as a medical organization.”   But 'Physicians for Human Rights, Israel' is not the only problematic group that Dr.Neve Gordon is associated with, for Dr. Gordon is also an active member in Ta’ayush.   Ta’ayush, according to NGO Monitor, “reflects the Palestinian political agenda” by remaining opposed to the Security Barrier and other self-defense measures that have saved Israeli lives, in addition to referring to Israel as an “apartheid” state and supporting BDS.    Yet as if being associated with radical NGOs was not problematic enough, Dr. Neve Gordon has taken concrete actions to support students who refuse to serve in the IDF http://www.seruv.org.il/suplistIsraeleng.asp . #231   Such activities  in support of refusniks should be viewed in the light ofIsrael's existing penal code which states

Incitement to evasion of duty

109. (a) If a person incites or induces anyone liable for service in an armed force not to serve in it or not to report for a military operation, then he is liable to five years imprisonment.

(b) If a person incites or induces anyone who serves in an armed force to desert from the service or from a military operation, or if he helped him to desert, then he is liable to seven years imprisonment.


(d) If a person commits an offense under this section while armed hostilities were in progress by or against

Israel, then he is liable to fifteen years imprisonment.


Incitement to disobedience

110. If a person incites or induces anyone who serves in an armed force to disobey a lawful order, then he is liable to one year imprisonment; if thereby he intended to injure national security, then he is liable to five years imprisonment; if the offense was committed when armed hostilities are in progress by or against Israel, then he is liable to seven years imprisonment.

But as if it is not problematic enough having a previous head of department like Dr. Neve Gordon, the other professors in the department are not much better.   Dr. Dani Filc, who has replaced Dr. Neve Gordon as the head of the Government and Politics department, is the chairperson of 'Physicians for Human Rights, Israel', like Dr. Neve Gordon was during the First Intifada, and supports Refusniks.    In 2007, Dr. Lynn Scheller signed a petition supporting Azmi Bishara, who is currently living abroad  to evade  being  charged with aiding the enemy during wartime, contacts with a foreign agent, and money laundering.   The IDF believes that Bishara gave Hezbollah crucial information on strategic positions inside Israel during the Second Lebanon War in exchange for massive sums of money, yet Bishara’s treasonous behavior did not stop Dr. Lynn Scheller from supporting him.   Dr.Haim Yacobi, like Dr. Neve Gordon, is a BDS supporter.     Dr. David Newman, like Dr. Neve Gordon, supported Refusniks and in addition, was formerly a B’tselem activist.    According to NGO Monitor, B’tselem has faced ‘serious criticism for its misrepresentation of international law, inaccurate research, and skewed statistics,” in addition to “regularly minimizing Israeli security concerns.”   The CEO of B’tselem, Jessica Montell, thinks that the situation in the West Bank is worse than apartheid in South Africa and the B’tselem chair of the Board, Dr. Oren Yiftachel of the political geography department at Ben-Gurion University, as reported by NGO Monitor, has been criticized for supporting sanctions against Israel and the Palestinian right of return.

Another major issue with the Government and Politics department at Ben-Gurion University is the biases of the syllabuses.   Students are not being educated about theories on nationalism or studying important capitalist thinkers like Adam Smith, Milton Friedman**, and are only studying the works of communist thinkers like Karl Marx***.    Likewise  the works of Edward Said are prescribed reading  but not the works of seminal thinkers such as Bernard Lewis. Civilian casualties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are never put in context and compared to those in other conflicts, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia, etc,  Likewise, the grievous hardships and oppression of life under Communist regimes are never mentioned.


Moreover, students are given the opportunity to do internships for academic credit when the organization has a post-Zionist orientation such as Shatil, Physicians for Human Rights, Bimkom, etc.   In Ben-Gurion University, it would be one thing if the faculty held a certain view but taught their subjects in a balanced manner, like what generally happens in the Middle Eastern Studies department at Ben-Gurion University, but unfortunately, this is not the case in the Government and Politics department at Ben-Gurion University.  


An example of how the biases of certain faculty members have negatively affected teaching can be found by an examination of their syllabuses.   For example, the Hebrew University sociologist Dr. Maya Rosenfeld is going to be a guest professor this academic year at the Department of Government and Politics at Ben-Gurion University, where she will be teaching a course entitled “Palestinian Society in the Diaspora and Occupied Territories: Trends of Social and Political Change.”    The readings for the class include pieces such as George Abed’s “The Palestinian Economy: Studies in Development under prolonged occupation,” which blames Israel instead of the Palestinian leadership for Palestinian lack of economic development; Naseer Aruri’s “Palestinian Refugees: the Right of Return,” which according to a book review published by Prof. Efraim Karsh, “makes for depressing reading,” because it denies the validity of Israel’s existence, advocating its replacement by a single "state-of-all-its-citizens" – a euphemism for the demise of the Jewish nation-state; and Dr. Neve Gordon’s “Israel’s Occupation,” which portrays Israelis as villains who mistreat the Palestinians arbitrarily without mentioning the context of terrorism.   There was not a single article listed that appeared critical of Palestinian society for its support of terrorism, its mistreatment of its Christian Arab minority, its oppression of women and homosexuals, its lack of democracy and human rights, etc.  Unfortunately, Dr. Maya Rosenfeld’s course is just one example of the biases of the faculty at the Department of Government and Politics, for most of the other professors in the department are just as biased against Israel.  


It was reported on Walla News, in Hebrew that the Department in Government and Politics at Ben-Gurion Universitysucceeded to gain an increase in the number of students who registered in the department. According to their data, there was a 15 percent increase. Both the current head of the department, Dr. Dani Filc, and the previous head, Dr. Neve Gordon, are optimistic. Dr. Gordon said, “The department has high acceptance rates in Israel, thus there are strong relations between this government and politics department and a lot of excellent first degree students.”  The article speaks of an increase of 21 students only.  Surely this is not so impressive. The acceptance requirements are actually low in comparison to life sciences. Moreover given the claims of the remarkably high standards in the department, one might wonder why it does not yet offer students the opportunity to get a Ph.D in Government and Politics at Ben-Gurion University.

Looking at Dr. Gordon's academic publications on ISI Web of Knowledge, some of the types of radical academic articles that he has written include “From colonization to separation: exploring the structure of Israel’s occupation;” “Zionism, translation, and the politics of erasure;” and “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering.” Dr. Gordon lists in his CV more articles, many of which are not academic.  The fact that Gordon received his professorship on the basis of such publications should cause many an eyebrow to be raised…and trenchant questions to be posed.


But as if building a career on such articles was not bad enough, Dr. Gordon exploits his position of authority to promote radical student activists to positions of influence.   His current teaching assistant, Noga Rotem, signed a petition criticizing the German political party Die Linke for supporting Israel and claims that their support makes them partially "responsible for the violations of international law and war crimes committed by the Israeli government."   This same petition called for stopping German arms exports to Israel, blocking the upgrading in relations between Israel and the European Union, prohibiting settlement goods from being exported to the EU, trying Israeli officials for "war crimes," and calls upon Germans and Europeans to support radical left wing extremist non-governmental organizations based in Israel.   Dr. Gordon's former teaching assistant, Noah Slor, also held radical extremist political views. It should be borne in mind that teaching assistants have considerable influence on the evaluation and test scores of students under their auspices. 

* How many pro-Zionist appointments have there been?
** Adam Smith is considered by many as the one of the most imopratnt founders of the 
theory of the free market theory (Google has over 3 million hits on his name). Milton Friedman among other things was a was a Nobel Prize winner and his text books have been used to educate millions of economic students.
*** We have based our report on complaints coming from Politics and Government students

Rachel Avraham is a researcher for Israel Academia Monitor and a Master's student at BGU. Dana Barnett also contributed to this article.


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