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Ben-Gurion University
BGU Neve Gordon's Solidarity with Palestinian Resistance, claims CHE “evaluation process” witch-hunt, urges forsaking Oslo



BGU Prof. Neve Gordon
Editorial Note:
Neve Gordon (BGU) is using his Sabbatical leave in the United States to pursue his life work of delegitimizing Israel. In additional to spreading the word that the Council of Higher Education is engaged in a political "witch hunt" against the Department of Politics and Government at BGU, Gordon is involved with the "Solidarity with Palestinian Resistance" a movement sponsored by the Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), among others.
IJV, created by a number of British Jews, is arguably, one of the most radical groups in the anti-Israel movement. The roster of topics at the conference is indicative of its goals; strengthening the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) advocacy and broadening its reach to such field as arm exports and other related fields. Like many of the radical groups, the IJV has practiced radical hypocrisy by focusing on Israel only. Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, one of the participants in the conference led a delegation of Fellowship of Reconciliation to Iran in 2008 which, predictably, harshly criticized American foreign policy. Equally predictably, Gottlieb had nothing to say when, in 2009, the Iranian regime brutally suppressed its own citizens who protested the stolen election.
Gordon's usual venture into BDS territory, took a new turn lately. Clearly frustrated by the failure of a new Intifada to materialize, Gordon is trying a different approach- urging the Palestinians to abrogate the Oslo agreement. According to some Palestinians and their Israeli supporters, leaving the Oslo framework would increase the "cost of doing business" for Israel, as the authorities would be forced to take control of million of Palestinians.
To justify a return to the status quo ante, Gordon blames the 1994 Paris Agreement [guiding economic relation] for the bad economic situation in the territories. As usual, Gordon does not let facts stand in the way of his "narrative." In reality, the Palestinian economy has been hobbled by mismanagement and corruption of monumental proportions. Palestinians have been the recipients of the largest [per capita] capital transfers from the international community in the history of foreign aid.
Gordon's track record of misrepresentation and misinterpretation stands out even by the standards of the radical academic fraternity. It is highly ironic that this champion of academic freedom, has failed to understand that the freedom comes with the correlative duty to pursue facts.


Not In Our Name: Jewish Solidarity with Palestinian Resistance: IJV Annual General Meeting

Date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 7:00pm -Saturday, October 20, 2012 - 5:00pm

Location Steelworkers Hall 25 Cecil Street

Toronto, ON Canada

This year’s Annual General Meeting of Independent Jewish Voices, Canada will focus on issues of Jewish solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.

Keynote Speakers: Yafa Jarrar and Neve Gordon

Yafa Jarrar is a Palestinian activist who was born in Jerusalem and she moved to Canada in 2003. Yafa has been working on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns and advocacy in Palestine and Canada since the call for BDS was issued in 2005.

Neve Gordon is an Israeli academic and activist. He has been a visiting scholar at a number of universities and this year is a member at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton. During the first intifada, he was the director of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel. His most recent book is "Israel's Occupation."

Participants will have opportunities to engage with activists currently working within the struggle for Palestinian liberation and other anti- colonial movements, as well as hear about current campaigns, and about developing new strategies for working within and outside Jewish communities in Canada and deepening international connections.
IJV members will also discuss internal policies and how to move IJV forward.

Workshop and panel topics will include a discussion of the politics of solidarity; the Jewish National Fund; Israel's role in exporting arms, surveillance and security systems globally; Canadian complicity with Israel's oppression of Palestinians, building alternative Jewish communities; the current situation in Syria and its implications for the region; the attempts to ban Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) from the Queer Pride march and pinkwashing.

Other speakers include: Lia Tarachansky, Bob Lovelace, Yves Engler, Amir Hassanpour, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Naomi Binder Wall, Jimmy Johnson, Yakov Rabkin, Ilana Rossof, Natalie Kouri-Towe, Tim McCaskell, Dylan Penner, and others.

For full schedule and online registration please see our webpage @ http://ijvagm.com. Also see the IJV website:http://ijvcanada.org/

For more information and any questions you may have, please email: IJV.register@gmail.com

All Are Welcome


Thursday, October 18
6:00 - 7:00 PM: Registration/Admission

7:00 - 9:30 PM Evening Panel: The Geopolitical Context of Palestine and the Israeli state. This forum will explore the links between neoliberalism, the Israeli arms trade and sharing of technologies for containment and control of populations, the exploitation of resources, the geopolitics of racism and ethnic cleansing, and Israel’s role in political repression.

Speakers: Yakov Rabkin, Amir Hassanpour, and Aidan Macdonald

Friday, October 19 -- An Internal Day for IJV until 3 PM: You must be a member to attend the internal sessions. All members need to update their membership. Please see membership form for more information:

Open to all, members and non-members, after 3 PM.
8:00 - 9:00 AM: Registration and Breakfast

9:00 - 10:30 AM: Opening Plenary: IJV Past, Present and Future. 
A discussion of IJV's development as an organization, with an open discussion of political challenges the organization faces, potential strategies, and directions for the future.

Speakers: Larry Haiven, IJV Halifax; Diana Ralph, IJV Ottawa; Judy Deutsch, IJV Toronto; Sid Shniad, IJV Vancouver. Treasurer's report, Mark Etkin. Introduction of resolutions.

10:30 - 12:00 noon: Break into interest groups (Jewish outreach, JNF campaign, working with churches, cross movement building, academic freedom and the anti-apartheid/BDS movement) to include discussion of resolutions and IJV future


Noon - 1:00 PM: Lunch (provided); discussion continues in above groups.

1:00 - 3:00 PM: Further discussion and voting on resolutions

3:00 - 3:15 PM: Break/Snacks

3:15 - 4:45 PM Panel: Jewish Solidarity with Palestine Resistance: Accountability and Responsibility -- Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Jewish Voice for Peace; Ilana Rossoff, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; Sheryl Nestel,Independent Jewish Voices, Canada; Lia Tarachansky, The Real News Network). Chair: Sue Goldstein (IJV, Toronto)*

4:45 PM - 6:30 PM: Dinner 

7:00 PM - 9:30 PM: Evening Program: 

Yafa Jarrar: "
The Struggle for Palestine and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)"

Neve Gordon: “
Education in Israel/Palestine: How Can We Embrace Our Common Humanity?”
After discussing the lynching of Palestinian youths, the deep-rooted segregation in the Israeli school system, and the racist beliefs among Israeli youth, Neve Gordon will describe a fairly new school which brings Jewish and Palestinian children together in an effort to underscore the common humanity of the people in the region.

Chair: Sheryl Nestel (IJV, Toronto)


Academic Freedom Attacked in Israel
By Neve Gordon, September 25th, 2012

The Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University of the Negev is currently under threat of being shut down.

The saga began when the Council of Higher Education established an international evaluation committee to scrutinize political science departments in Israel.

From the very beginning, the process was mired by irregularities. First, Professor Ian Lustick, a prominent American political scientist from University of Pennsylvania and an internationally recognized expert on Israeli society and politics, was removed from the evaluation committee for unknown reasons. In response, the original committee chair, Professor Robert Shapiro of Columbia University, resigned and the political science department at Hebrew University stopped cooperating with the committee. The committee was subsequently recomposed with Professor Thomas Risse from Frei University in Berlin taking the helm (Risse was aware that the other people resigned and still took it on), and included such people as Israeli Professor Avraham Diskin who had previously written articles in support of the radical right wing group Im Tirzu, who has been leading an assault against the department for the past three years and is closely affiliated with the Minister of Education.

This committee, with members praised as positivist and empiricist political scientists produced a report that was not only biased but erred on key facts, errors that facilitated its unprecedented conclusion – the department which was established purposefully in order to foster and advance interdisciplinary, critical and qualitative research (the kind of research which is currently underrepresented in all other political science departments in Israel) was instructed to introduce mainstream positivist political science into its research and curricula. Failing to do so, the Council of Higher Education should consider shutting it down.

This evaluation, which was biased both politically and disciplinarily, was also based on basic factual errors. For example: The committee counted only 50% of the referred articles published by department members. And while criticizing the department at BGU, they praised the department of political science at Tel-Aviv University, which published the same amount of articles but have twice as many faculty members.

In the original report, the reviewers erroneously stated that faculty members have not published books in leading academic presses, but the nine full-time faculty have, in fact, published six books in the three years prior to the report, of which three appeared in the top 10 academic presses (California, Cornell, Columbia), two more with Routledge, and a sixth with the top press in France.

The excellent quality of the scholarship members of the department have produced, and the fact that they are frequent and welcome guest at the best academic institutes (Radcliff College at Harvard, the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, the school of public health at Chicago, or Cambridge University) has found little echo in the report. The committee was also not impressed with the average grant per faculty member, which is over $100,000, a relatively high sum in the discipline, and perhaps the highest among political science departments in Israel.

Finally, this fall graduates from the department are beginning their PhDs at universities like Columbia and Northwestern.

On the basis of such errors the committee under-evaluated the department in terms of individual merit, and could easily direct its criticism to the “excessive social activism” of its members – which means nothing but their leftist political leaning – and to the interdisciplinary ethos of the department (where half of the faculty come from fields like political geography, public health, and history).

For obvious bureaucratic and political reasons, the administration of Ben Gurion University felt it had to comply with the report and directed the department to hire three faculty members in areas mentioned in the report: comparative politics, quantitative methods and political theory and to introduce some changes to the curriculum. Two international evaluators – Thomas Risse and Ellen M. Immergut, appointed by the Council to oversee the implementation of the report, wrote in a letter sent to the Council that they “congratulate the department on successfully recruiting three new faculty members in the areas of comparative politics, quantitative methods, and political theory, and for its plans for a fourth recruitment next year.” They called upon the University to allow these young scholars “the time, resources, and mentoring to publish in top ranked international refereed journals and university presses,” in a way that would help the department “fulfill its deficits in mainstream political science,” adding that “the department should increase its diversity in terms of methods and theoretical orientations in future recruitments.” No criticism or sanctions were mentioned in this letter.

And yet, last week a sub-committee within the Council of Higher Education followed this letter with a proposal to shut down the department because it failed to comply with the report of the international committee. The gap between the report filed by Risse and Immergut and the decision reached by the sub-committee of the Council of Higher Education underscores thatthis whole “evaluation process” has turned into a witch-hunt, or was such a hunt in disguise from the beginning. For reasons which are difficult – or too easy? – to understand, the authors of the above mentioned letter, professors Risse and Immegut, have failed so far to clarify their opinion about the way their service to the Council of Higher Education has been abused so as to silence excellent academics some of whom happen to be identified as active members of the left in Israel.


Neve Gordon 
Neve Gordon is the author of Israel's Occupation.

Salam Fayyad, the World Bank and the Oslo game
Most Palestinian analysts maintain that the Oslo agreements are to blame for the collapse of the Palestinian economy.
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2012 10:05

Triggered by gas-price increases, tens of thousands of Palestinian taxi, truck and bus drivers in the West Bank observed a one-day strike, effectively shutting down cities. This, as Al Jazeera reported, was the culmination of several days of protests where thousands of Palestinians, frustrated by the economic crisis in the West Bank, took to the streets. After these protesters forced the closure of government offices, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad decided to decrease fuel prices and cut the salaries of top Palestinian Authority officials in an effort to appease his angry constituents.

Prime Minister Fayyad, a former IMF executive, undoubtedly knows that both his previous decision to increase gas prices as well as his recent decision to decrease them will have no real effect on the looming economic crisis. Report after report has documented the Palestinian economy's complete dependence on foreign aid, while underscoring the severe poverty and chronic food insecurity plaguing the population. These reports all suggest that Israel's occupation is to blame for the unfolding economic debacle, raising the crucial question of why the Palestinians" wrath was directed at Fayyad rather than at Israel.

The clue to this enigma can be found in the missing chapter of a World Bank report published barely a week after the protests subsided. Warning that the fiscal crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is deepening, the World Bank blamed the Israeli government for maintaining a tight grip over 60 per cent of the West Bank, denying Palestinians access to the majority of arable land in the area as well as limiting their access to water and other natural resources.

Remarkably, the economists who wrote the report highlight the impact of severe Israeli restrictions to Palestinian land but say nothing about economic policy. They seem to suggest that if only the Oslo process had been allowed to go forward, then the Palestinian economy would not be so badly off. Therefore they fail to mention the detrimental effect of the Paris Protocols, the Palestinian-Israeli Interim Agreement of April 1994 that spells out Oslo's economic arrangements.

Interestingly, the three foundational documents that Fayyad has published since he began his tenure as Prime Minister - Palestinian Reform and Development Planfrom 2008; Ending the Occupation and Establishing a State from 2009; and Homestretch to Freedom from 2010 - also fail to discuss the stifling effect the Paris Protocols have had on Palestinian economy.

Spanning 35 pages - as opposed to NAFTA's more than 1,000 pages - this economic agreement reproduces Palestinian subjugation to Israel, while undercutting the very possibility of Palestinian sovereignty. The agreement's major problem, as Israeli economists Arie Arnon and Jimmy Weinblatt pointed out over a decade ago, is that it establishes a customs union with Israel based on Israeli trade regulations, allows Israel to maintain control of all labour flows, and prohibits the Palestinians from introducing their own currency, thus barring their ability to influence interest rates, inflation, etc.

Why, we need to ask ourselves, does Prime Minister Fayyad wish to "improve" the Paris Protocols, and why doesn't the World Bank even mention the agreement, needless to say the severe limitations that it imposes on the Palestinian Authority's ability to choose their own economic regime and adopt trade policies according to their perceived interests?

The answer has to do with a shared and ongoing investment in Oslo.

Prime Minister Fayyad, the World Bank and indeed most western leaders perceive the current economic crisis in the Palestinian territories as resulting from the collapse of the 1993 Oslo process. They would like to bring Oslo back on track, develop and expand it. By contrast, most Palestinian analysts currently maintain that the Oslo agreements are to blame for the collapse of the Palestinian economy.

The protesters know that the West Bank's fragmentation, the Palestinians' inability to control their own borders and the lack of access to huge swaths of land (which are highlighted in the reports), are intricately tied to the untenable customs union and the absence of a Palestinian currency. These restrictions are all part and parcel of the Oslo Accords and not an aberration from them.

Hence, it would be rash to think that the Palestinian protesters are blaming Prime Minister Fayyad for the economic crisis, since every West Bank resident knows all too well that the crisis is the result of the occupation. It consequently seems reasonable to assume that they are blaming Fayyad for continuing to play the Oslo game.

Palestinians have no sovereignty in the Occupied Territories, and yet they have a president, a prime minister and an array of ministers who for years now have postured as part of a legitimate government in an independent country. The only way to end the occupation is by forsaking Oslo; to force the Palestinian Authority to stop playing this futile game and to deal head on with its disastrous repercussions.

Neve Gordon is the author of Israel's Occupation and can be reached through his website.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Al Jazeera

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