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Ben-Gurion University
[BGU, Politics and Government] Neve Gordon Travels - Part II


Editorial Note

Neve Gordon has appeared in Belgium at a talk organized by a group supporting BDS. 
As the report below indicates, Gordon, one of the pioneers of the "Israel is an apartheid state theory" did not disappoint.
To recall, in 2009 Gordon called to a boycott of Israel from the pages of the Los Angeles Times.  His op-ed created an enormous backlash; and led, among others, to Knesset legislation that made calls for  BDS illegal.  Gordon is more circumspect now, but one does not to read between the lines of his rather torturous prose to understand that he still considers Israel to be apartheid state.
Gordon's lecture is one more example of Israeli academics who help to create an image of Israel deserving to be boycotted, whether they mention the term or not. Israeli taxpayers who pay his salary deserve better.


dinsdag 6 mei 2014

Google translate

For this conference Palestine Solidarity had two invited speakers. Neve Gordon is an Israeli academic. He teaches political science at the University of Ben-Gurion in Israel. 

Talk by Neve Gordon:

When speaking about Apartheid, it is important to know the boundaries of Israel. The Green Line, the armistice line of 1949, marks the de facto Israeli state [3]. This means that the West Bank and Gaza are not part of Israel. These are the occupied Palestinian territories. Opponents of the Israel-apartheid analogy cling to the idea that the Palestinian territories are not covered under Israeli sovereignty. They are governed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and therefore it is justified that there is a different arrangement for the residents of the Palestinian territories and Israel. 

But if you look at the area from the Jordan Valley to the Mediterranean Sea , you will see that this is actually one state. This is not the legal situation, but in fact there is a one-state situation. In this one, there is apartheid, given that two different peoples fall under two different legal systems. In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip it is therefore Apartheid, given that the Israeli settlers live under a different legal system than the Palestinians .

Where Neve Gordon mainly wants to talk about is the situation in Israel itself. In Israel we have to deal with segregation and apartheid. According to Neve Gordon, the Israeli state is built on a hyper-ethnic nationalism. For Israel, it is important to maintain majority of the Jewish ethnic group. We could say that Israel is an ethnocracy rather than a democracy . Ethnic identity is vital for Israel, therefore the population geographically spread over the area. The intention is to judaizing the area.

The organization of space

In 1948 there were 150,000 Palestinians in Israel. Now, 66 years later, there are 1.7 million Palestinians. Since that time, there is no Palestinian town or city to be built. This means that the Palestinian residential areas have become more compact, and there is almost no living space .

The population of Israel, consisting of Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Israelis (Israel calls them Arab Israelis), is ethnically separated. There are no Palestinians living in Jewish neighborhoods. They are therefore segregated neighborhoods.

The problem is that this is a vicious circle. Indeed, there are no statutory rules about where Palestinians and Jews may live. But districts origins and ethnic nationalist logic combined with the rigid land regime creates a particular consciousness. All of this is not based on a law, but simply because of the distribution of the population in the area.

Of course there is also segregation in schools. To indicate the level of segregation, there are 2,000,000 children in Israel, and it is followed by only 1,500 lessons in a non segregated school.

Gordon is very concerned about education for his own children. Studies [4] in Israel showed that Israeli youth have racist ideas towards Palestinians. Education influences the perception of the world. For Gordon, the question was how a child should be educated and taught in a conflict zone.

This racist attitude is not accidental, according to Gordon, that is reinforced by the fact that Israeli and Palestinian young people simply have no contact with each other. They do not meet, they do not play with each other; and so the idea of the "dangerous other" has been maintained. Jewish children are afraid of the Palestinians, and therefore they are racists .

After thorough investigation, Gordon came across the 'contact theory ' by Gordon W. Allport. The 'contact theory' suggests that interpersonal contact is one of the most important ways to reduce prejudice between majority and minority groups. This could cause misunderstandings and prejudices to disappear . For a well-managed contact between the two groups, in order to eliminate prejudices, there are some conditions the contact must meet: ( 1 ) both parties should have equal status, no differences in academic background, wealth , knowledge, experience; ( 2 ) both parties must have common goals; ( 3 ) there must be cooperation between the groups; ( 4 ) the contact must be somewhat supported by institutions; and ( 5 ) there should be informal personal interaction.

Gordon thought that the only way his children would espouse any racist ideas was when they would meet Palestinian children, get to know and work with them and sit at school with them. The possibility was therefore, to found a new, school in Israel .

A new, separate school : Hagar the Jewish-Palestinian school

The children at the new school are not getting the Zionist curriculum taught as in ordinary Israeli schools. The population of the school is 50/50; half Palestinian children, half Jewish children. In the school there are now 250 children enrolled and differ of schools in Israel up to 30 % of the standard curriculum . This is enough, since there is no change in classes such as English and Mathematics. History is particularly important.

The first obstacle is of course the language. Gordon's intention was that the language could also be a bridge. The school is bilingual. Each class has two teachers, a Palestinian teacher and a Jewish teacher . Each gives lessons only in his own language, and there is no translation. It was assumed that when children are young enough, they would catch up with their disadvantage in a particular language

As seen in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the national histories are very important, both are stories told in school. When Jews celebrate 'Independence Day' of Israel the Palestinians commemorate the anniversary of the Nakba (the catastrophe - the destruction of Palestinian society in 1948). It is not easy to bring up children from 4 years old on this. Teachers tackle this very pragmatical issue. It starts on an emotional level, in the Independence day they tell the children that with independence comes responsibility. For the story of the Nakba, they teach the children the basic concept of losing your home, losing your friends and neighbors, your pets and toys are lost. The older the children are, the more dimensions are added to the story. A moment of silence was held for the Nakba and the Holocaust. In this way, a situation is created in which one can take into account the other, and the other is different.

There is, thus, a Jewish Palestinian community created. Not just a community of children, the parents are part of the story. The parents go on outing together, go together to the cinema. They no longer form part of the machine that created the segregated state.

The importance of this school is to create a new, shared future. It is an alternative model to explain the population a racist reality.

[3] De facto, since the Green Line is not the legal boundary of Israel. 

[4] Poll: Young Israelis moving much farther to the right politically, Haaretz, Or Kashti | Mar. 31, 2011

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