Yesterday, at 15:55 I got a phone call from Rachel, my assistant and a student at BGU. She seemed very nervous, panicked even, and said "we have a slight problem". She told me briefly the story below and I tried to calm her down. I asked her to write every little detail of what exactly happened, to include only what she saw and heard, not to exaggerate, nor to miss out anything.
Here is her story.
Dana Barnett, IAM editor.
MY ENCOUNTER WITH PROF. NEVE GORDON AND GORDON’S SUPPORTERS
On April 11, 2011, Im Tirtzu organized a demonstration on the Ben-Gurion University campus that was protesting the thought police that currently exists in the Department of Government and Politics at Ben-Gurion University, which leads to the existence of one-sided conferences hosted by the BGU Government and Politics department, such as the BGU human rights conference that only invited left wing extremist organizations to speak that occurred this week. Im Tirtzu chanted that academic freedom should be for every one and that until this happens there is no academic freedom. They also emphasized that multiple opinions should be represented in the Government and Politics department. In order to emphasize the brainwashing that goes on at BGU, they had a visual display where they had a fake brain, and they poured water over it, then proceeded to scrub the brain with a toothbrush to demonstrate how the Department of Government and Politics tries to brainwash students. The Im Tirtzu demonstrators also put duck-tape over their mouths, in order to visualize how pro-Israel students at BGU are silenced by left wing extremist faculty. This Im Tirtzu demonstration occurred literally a half an hour before the 2:30pm panel of the human rights conference, which Prof. Neve Gordon moderated. Evidently, it appears that the existence of this demonstration really bothered Gordon, because one of his student supporters came to the Im Tirtzu demonstration with the sole purpose of disrupting it and arguing with the Im Tirtzu people.
After a half an hour, I unfortunately had to leave the Im Tirtzu demonstration, where my heart was, in order to monitor the BGU human rights conference for Israel Academia Monitor. Usually, when I go to anti-Israel lectures in order to monitor them, I really try to blend in and not to bother any one. However, Prof. Gordon saw to it from the moment that I walked inside of the conference room where the human rights conference was taking place that I would not be able to monitor this anti-Israel conference in peace. The second that I walked inside of the conference room, Prof. Gordon approached me and asked, “Are you with NGO Monitor or Israel Academia Monitor?” Note, he asked this despite the fact that the speakers had already started to talk. I answered him that I came because the subject interests me, which wasn’t a lie. I am very interested in seeing how good principles like human rights are being exploited by people with an anti-Israel political agenda. After that, he said nothing.
Then, somewhere in the middle of the lecture, someone from the media walked in and said that they wanted to take pictures of us. Naturally, as a strong pro-Israel advocate, a devout Zionist, and an American olah chadasha, I did not want to be in a picture together with some of BGU’s worst anti-Israel radicals. So, I tried to hide my face. Luckily, I am a woman with long hair, so I have plenty of hair to hide my face in, but I also used my hands to hide my face as well. The journalist then noticed that I didn’t want to be photographed and emphasized that he would respect my wishes. After that, Gordon blurted out that the reason that I did not want to be photographed is because I work for Israel Academia Monitor. The journalist said that made no difference to him. Regardless, I continued to hide my face until the journalist was gone.
Right before the next panel, Gordon approached me and mentioned that I could not publish any thing without the permission of the conference organizers, since this event took place on BGU property and this conference was organized especially for students. Evidently, he meant only left wing extremist students, because I just happen to be an MA student at Ben-Gurion University in the Middle Eastern Studies department. As a BGU student, I should have just as much right as every other student to attend a conference taking place at my university and to write what I think about what I heard without being disturbed.
But Gordon’s people saw to it that this wouldn’t happen. The photographer for the second panel that I went to was obsessed with taking every one’s picture, regardless whether they wanted that done or not. She was not respectful of people’s wishes like the Israeli journalist was. When she saw that I was trying to hide my face, she just kept on waiting around for a moment where she could take my picture. I know for a fact that the photographer was associated with Gordon, for I saw her talking to him during the second panel that I went to. Given the fact that I didn’t say a word during that lecture, I don’t understand why Gordon’s people wanted my picture so badly.
RACHEL AVRAHAM IS A RESEARCHER FOR ISRAEL ACADEMIA MONITOR AND AN MA STUDENT AT BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY.