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IAM Friday selection: Whither Arab solidarity? / The disrepute of Zionist intellectuals / BGU has lost its legitimacy

Whither Arab solidarity?

By AMNON RUBINSTEIN JPOST - 07/03/2011 23:11

Lessons learned over 2,000 years still serve us now

For more than three months, the Libyan town of Misrata has been under siege, and its citizens are being bombarded by Muammar Gaddafis well-equipped army and air force. Nobody knows the number of civilian casualties, but over a month ago, the Guardianreported that there were over 1,000 dead and 3,000 wounded.

Misrata is only a short distance from the Tunisian border, where a popular revolution installed a non-tyrant government. And yet, Tunis does not extend any help to its beleaguered Arab brethren in Misrata, except for accepting the Libyan refugees fleeing the war.

The fate of Benghazi, located closer to the Egyptian border, could have been much worse: Were it not for a last-minute rescue by the NATO air-force, the people would have been slaughtered en masse when the armed columns of Gaddafi began their avenging march to the city. A few days before that intervention, the Guardian reported the frustration of a local engineer, who waved his clenched fist at the sky and shouted: Where is [an] aerial counter-blow? Where is the West? They must stop Qaddafi before we all die. He did not address his outcry to neighboring Egypt, which, with its huge army and air force, could have saved the people of Benghazi.

The only Arab states rendering any help to the Libyan people are Qatar, Jordan and the Emirates, and they confine themselves to aerial humanitarian assistance. Nothing is being done by any Arab organization to save the rebels from annihilation.

Now, lets imagine a hypothetical scenario in which two Jewish communities face similar dangers, and right across the border, there exist two Jewish states. Can anyone even imagine a situation in which these Jewish states would turn a blind eye to their menaced brethren? Is it at all conceivable that these states would not mobilize their armies to save the lives of the besieged Jews?

Even without a state of their own, Jews in the Diaspora have always mobilized to help endangered Jewish communities. Indeed, Jewish solidarity from the Joint to Col. Marcuss volunteers in the War of Independence has become legendary. But where is the Arab Col. Marcus? Where is the financial assistance from oil-rich governments that could help the people of Misrata?

If solidarity and loyalty are the hallmark of a people, then the Jews are certainly a people. And yet, anti-Israeli university professors in Israel, who thrive on Jewish donations, deny the existence of such a people. This is the edict of the latest academic fashion, and Prof. Shlomo Sand of Tel Aviv University is its main trendsetter. In his book The Inventionof the Jewish People, Sand claims that the Jews were not expelled from ancient Palestine, that those who remained there were the ancestors of todays Palestinians, that the Ashkenazi Jews are the descendents of the mass conversion of Khazars a seminomadic Turkic people to Judaism over 1,000 years ago and, needless to say, have no historical claim over Palestine.

Naturally the book drew worldwide attention, won an important French prize and was widely covered by the international media. Here was the ultimate attack on Israel: If there is no Jewish people, there should be no Jewish state, and strictly speaking, there should be no Jewish history (although Sand is ready, so it seems, to grant recognition to the Israeli-Jewish community).

IS THERE any scientific basis to Sands allegations? And if there is, what are its political ramifications? The answer is twofold: There is no evidence whatsoever for these statements, and even if they are true, they have no significance.

Let us take his claim that Ashkenazi Jews are descendents of Khazar converts. There is no evidence for this (although it is quite possible that a minority stems from such alleged conversions).

A wide range of reliable genetic tests have negated this tale, there are no Khazar words in Yiddish, and if we assume that the Ashkenazi community is of Khazar extraction, we must also assume that many of them decided, by acquiring names such as Cohen and Levy, to retroactively serve the Jewish God as holy men in a Jewish Temple destroyed almost 1,000 years before their conversion.

But let us assume that there was mass conversion and that most or all Ashkenazi Jews are of non-Jewish extraction. Since when are converts not considered Jewish? According to both Halacha and liberal principles, a convert to Judaism is a Jew for every purpose, including his yearning for Zion. According to the books argument, King David himself, whose grandmother was a convert, is not Jewish and has no claim to Zion.

The truth is that Sands compilation of rubbish serves an important purpose. It is a further erosion of the line between academic writing and its parody. Thus, Sand makes fun of all the genetic studies, undertaken by firstrate scientists, that prove two astounding conclusions: Ashkenazi Jews are genetically closer to oriental Jews and oriental non-Jews than to the non-Jewish European host societies, and Jews managed to keep their separate genetic identity throughout this long and eventful time.

Needless to say, no nation is, or should be, racially pure. Jews did intermarry, and conversions took place. Evelyn Waugh, in a letter to Nancy Mitford, notedices thediversity of ethnicities among Jews when he visited Palestine in the 30s. Herzl was aware of this diversity and remarked that no people are homogenous racially. Meanwhile, all French children, including African-French, learn in school about our ancestors, the Gauls; are they different from the alleged descendants of a convert who prays, Next year in Jerusalem?

What Jews posses that is conspicuously absent among their Arab cousins is solidarity in time of need.

And it is this Jewish solidarity, among other things, that has enabled Israel and its universities to survive.

The writer is a professor of law at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a former minister of education and Knesset member, and the recipient of the 2006 Israel Prize in Law (www.amnonrubinstein.org)


The disrepute of Zionist intellectuals

Israeli intellectuals of yesteryear may have had differing political opinions, but they agreed on the fundamentals: that the Jews are a nation and deserve a state located in the historic homeland. Sadly, the actions of many modern Israeli intellectuals mark a departure from this view.

Writing inthese pages last week, Emmanuel Navon dissected alengthy lamentby Israeli intellectuals that appeared inHaaretzearlier this month, in which they mourned the decline in the intellectuals public value and sought to explain it. Some of their explanations were simply nonsensical: Far from needing to conform lest a vengeful public hit him in the pocket, for instance, the average tenured Israeli academic enjoys far more financial security than many great intellectuals of previous centuries. Others, like the claim that televisions sound-bite culture has reduced public interest in sustained intellectual argument, have some validity, but as Navon noted, these dont explain why intellectuals in other countries (he cited Frances Bernard-Henri Levy as an example) do still seem to command public attention.

Navon correctly identified one important factor thatHaaretzs interviewees studiously ignored: their disregard of reality. As he noted, mantras like the occupation is the source of all evil and the advent of peace depends on Israel alone might have seemed daring and intriguing two decades ago, but few Israelis find them even remotely persuasive now, after the Palestinians have rejected three separate offers of a state in virtually all the territories; after Israels serial withdrawals - from large parts of West Bank in 1994-95, from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005 - produced not peace, but, respectively, the second intifada, the Second Lebanon War and years of rocket fire on southern Israel; and after even the most moderate Palestinians have repeatedly refused to recognize the Jewish state or give up their dream of destroying it demographically via a mass influx of Palestinian refugees.

But another issue may be even more important: the fact that too many modern Israeli intellectuals are no longer committed to the Zionist project.

The great Israeli intellectuals of yesteryear whose lossHaaretzmourned S.Y. Agnon, Chaim Nahman Bialik, Uri Zvi Greenberg, Nathan Alterman were all passionately devoted to the project of restoring and maintaining Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. They often disagreed vehemently about what policies the state should adopt, but they agreed on the fundamentals: that the Jews are a nation, that this nation deserves a state, that this state should be located in the Jews historic homeland. And they gave generously of their talents to advance and preserve the cause of Jewish sovereignty.

Contrast this with the intellectuals who complained so bitterly toHaaretz. Prof. Shlomo Sand of Tel Aviv University, for instance, is famous mainly for his bookThe Invention of the Jewish People, in which defying millennia of Jewish texts, from the Bible onward, that posit a nation of Israel- he asserts that
there is no Jewish peopleand proclaims the concept of Jewish peoplehood a 19th-century intellectual construct.

The obvious implication is that Jews have no right to national self-determination. He also argues, again contrary to traditional scholarship, that most Jews werent exiled by the Romans two millennia ago, but rather remained in the Land of Israel and subsequently converted to Islam, thus becoming the Palestinians progenitors. Modern-day Jews, he claims, are mainly descended from later converts. Again, the implication is that Palestinians have the only valid claim to this land, while Jews have no valid claim at all.

Prof. Moshe Zuckermann of the same university is
on record as sayingthat Israel must let 250,000 to 400,000 Palestinians relocate inside its pre-1967 borders, as an interim solution en route to eliminating the independent Jewish state entirely(since Im neither a nationalist nor a statist). He alsoactively promotesacademic boycotts of Israel.

Prof. Ran HaCohen of Tel Aviv University similarly strives to undermine Israels legitimacy abroad. In a column on the antiwar.com site, for instance, he
termed the security fenceseparating Israel from the West Bank, which sharply reduced Palestinian suicide bombings inside Israel, an Apartheid Wall, thereby implying that this non-lethal defensive measure is racist and illegitimate. Inanother column,he called the Jewish National Fund, established to legally purchase land in pre-state Israel, a colonialist institution implying that Jews are colonialist interlopers with no rights in this land, not even the right to legally purchase land here.

Whether intentionally or not (HaCohen, for instance, claims to support a two-state solution), all these intellectuals are actively working to delegitimize the entire concept of Jewish sovereignty in this land, and hence to dismantle the worlds only Jewish state. Nor are they alone. Prof. Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University, for instance,
demandedin aLos Angeles Timesop-ed that Israel be boycotted as an apartheid state.

Prof. Moshe Zimmerman of Hebrew University
routinely comparesthe Israel Defense Forces to the Waffen SS. A Hebrew University graduatestudent won a prizefrom an association of Israeli sociology professors for claiming that Israeli soldiers dont rape Palestinians because they consider them subhuman. A Haifa University graduatestudent won top marksfor a thesis accusing Israeli soldiers of massacring Arabs during the War of Independence; the veterans later proved in court that he fabricated the evidence. A Sapir College lecturer threw an IDF reservist in uniform out of his class; 40 colleagues promptlybacked the lecturer.And the list could go on and on.

Moreover, these anti-Israel intellectuals receive wall-to-wall support from their Zionist colleagues, who insist that academic freedom means that nothing an academic does - even calling for boycotting the very university that pays your salary - can be deemed so egregious that ordinary Israelis shouldnt be forced to subsidize its propagation with their taxes, which fund the bulk of university budgets.

This is the real reason Israeli intellectuals have fallen into disrepute. The many intellectuals who dont share the publics fundamental commitment to Jewish sovereignty obviously have little to say to it; their critiques are aimed not at achieving a shared goal, but at destroying all that most Israelis hold dear. And by backing their anti-Zionist colleagues so unreservedly, Zionist intellectuals have tarred themselves with the same brush. For whether fairly or not, most Israelis now see them as primarily committed not to any national interest, but to the defense of their own narrow guild.

The writer is a journalist and commentator.


Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Has Lost Its Legitimacy

Dr. Haim Misgav, Attorney

June 18, 2011

Academic freedom, which is being fought for by Rivka Carmi, president of the academic institution named after the first prime minister, long ago turned into a preposterous farce under her leadership.

Ben-Gurion University has long since lost its legitimacy to receive funding from the public coffers. Nor is it worthy to accept donations from Jews throughout the world. Academic freedom, which is whats being fought for by Rivka Carmi, president of the academic institution named after the first prime minister of the State of Israel the one who proclaimed to the world that this will be a Jewish state, the national home of the Jewish people, long ago became a preposterous farce under her leadership. A group of arch-nihilist lecturers such as Neve Gordon and Eyal Nir have turned the academic campus where they lecture into a springboard for spreading patently insane ideas. There is zero resemblance between them and what people like to label academic freedom. Perhaps some genetic flaw, present in the Jewish people since its inception, is involved. Their enemies and detractors thrive on it.

I do not know Eyal Nir, but I am well acquainted with Neve Gordon. This is someone who does not hold his statements back from worldwide anti-Semitic websites. There is no Holocaust-denying site that is not delighted to publish what he says. His odious articles are warmly welcomed on pro-Nazi sites. He himself, of course, advocates freedom of speech, but when Prof. Steven Plaut of Haifa University saw him, based on an article he had published, as a full member of a kind of contemporary Judenrat, Gordon hurried to sue Plaut for defamation. Neve Gordon for some reason did not like being compared to the group of Jews who during the Nazi days collaborated with the decimators of European Jewry.

But truth be told, Neve Gordon is much worse that the infamous Judenrat. They evidently tried to take action in times of uncertainty, during World War II, in hopes of perhaps saving as many Jews as possible, whereas Neve Gordon does what he does while expressly knowing that his actions and articles actually sabotage the State of Israels ability to survive in a world where dozens of Muslim states are calling for its annihilation.The academic institution boycotts that he supports, or his call to prosecute prime ministers or army officers, just to mention a few of the diatribes that he spews on the worlds junk sites, contribute quite a bit to the Jewish states isolation, under the guise of protecting the supposed rights of the Palestinians.

These are Neve Gordons congenital defects. They might be curable, or partially removable, but Neve Gordon doesnt want that. He is happy to wallow in the sludge of self-hatred, and especially to embarrass the academic institution in which he lectures and in whose name he appears around the world, where all our enemies have no asset more valuable than an Israeli academic who speaks out against his nation.

Of course I am not proposing that any proceedings, criminal or otherwise, be taken against Neve Gordon or Eyal Nir. But the university that falsely, to my mind, bears the name of David Ben-Gurion should do something. Do or else stop existing as a public institution that draws its budget from all of our pockets.



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