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Panel recommends closing BGU politics dept. for "political bias"

Topping off a lengthy, politically-motivated assault on the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University, a new study now reportedly recommends closing the department altogether. According to Yediot Ahronot, an international committee established by Israel’s Council for Higher Education has pointed out a series of professional, academic weaknesses of the department, examining the number of publications, the prestige of the publishers of those publications, the range of courses and programs and the number of lecturers.

But the headline of Yediot’s story is the report’s finding that the political bias of the department warrants special concern. According to Yediot:

The committee…expressed its concern that the department’s political inclinations may be resulting in …an imbalance between the opinions of the faculty members and the curriculum.

The political science professors must note that the opinions they are expressing are personal…so that the students will be exposed to alternative viewpoints,” the reported stated.

The committee said it was also concerned that the “strong emphasis on political activism may undermine the research of politics as a scientific field.” The report noted that there is a consensus among the students that the courses offered to them are politically biased.

After reading the first two paragraphs twice I’m still not sure what they mean. Does that mean the lecturers place more emphasis on their opinions than on the academic material? No – the second paragraph makes it sound like the problem is that students cannot tell the difference between opinions and academic concepts. Or that if the lecturer provides a warning label on his or her opinions, students will then automatically go out and seek other opinions – but otherwise they may not have bothered.

And how did the committee reach this conclusion, unless all the international members suddenly learned Hebrew and sat in on a representative sample of lectures? Galia Golan, a longtime political activist and Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Hebrew University, currently teaching at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, was also a member of the international committee. She repudiated this finding, saying (in the Hebrew version):

It’s not clear to me how you can examine the balance, but I consider this sort of demand to be directly opposed to the principle of academic freedom, which is the foundation of university education.

So there’s a consensus among students about political bias? I assume that to reach this conclusion, the committee must have conducted a survey. But consensus in surveys is extremely rare. And did the sample include the Arab students, who constitute 9% of all university students in the country – and most likely even more at Ben Gurion University?

I wonder if we’ll ever know. The article in Yediot is a study in shoddy journalism, leaving gaping holes where vital, basic pieces of information should be, such as: were any other universities or any other departments examined or just this specific department? Were any accusations of right-wing bias investigated? Who sits on the international committee aside from the one person mentioned in the article, and what are their backgrounds? With such sub-standard journalism, the screaming headline “Close the lefty department” does little but sensationalize the subject.

Here are few things that are certain: The report follows a concerted and protracted attack on the department due to the political leanings of some members of its faculty. Civil society group Im Tirzu, the self-appointed guardians and interpreters of acceptable Israeli-ness has conducted an ugly and thuggish campaign against the department, due to the political opinions of certain faculty members. The Institute for Zionist Strategies has followed suit. Education Minister and Likud MK Gidon Saar holds Im Tirzu in high regard and has in the past taken direct action stemming from its recommendations, such as threatening Ben Gurion’s faculty members for their political opinions too. And Saar is the head of the Council for Higher Education, who commissioned the study.

The onus is on the authors of the report to prove that this is anything but a transparent politically motivated witch hunt. I wonder if the report will even be made available to the public in full.

Finally, consider the two main critiques reported in the article, about professional standards and political bias. It is rather confounding to me how the problem of insufficient programs, lecturers and courses will be solved by shutting down the department. One might logically think that it would be more appropriate to expand the programs, courses and number of lecturers. I have personally done my part to rectify this situation, and continue teaching this year at Ben Gurion University as an adjunct lecturer.

Perhaps critics will say I prove the point – my opinions and political activism are easy enough to see on the Internet – personally I think hiding them would be far more dangerous. But I dare my readers or students to critique my syllabus (the course is called “Public Opinion and Conflict”) or accuse my lectures of political bias, or of being a plug for political activism. Guess what I’ll do if they say so? I’ll listen and consider their point.

I do tell my students on the first day that the course is geared towards conflict resolution, not conflict perpetuation. I tell them that if they do not agree with this overall goal, they are most welcome to remain in my class, but will probably find themselves uncomfortable with the basic approach. Not a lecture goes by when I don’t remind them to critique every reading we review, every theoretical approach, every newspaper article, scientific finding, and academic instructor. I believe that they understand this means that I too am not infallible, and that I am more than happy to hear constructive criticism. That’s what the intellectual and academic process is all about. So I thought.

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    1. aristeides

      In another generation, the only schools open in Israel will be yeshivas, and the only women teaching will be in girls schools.

      Reply to Comment
    2. AYLA

      Thank you, Dahlia. BGU professor campus-wide (and I teach there, too) must fight this in the name of intellectual discourse and freedom for which higher education stands.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Piotr Berman

      Perhaps it would be worthwhile to stress that the same opinion about social and political dynamics in Israel, that is to say, about scientific facts, may lead to diametrically different policy recommendations.

      On the basis of historical record, opinion polls etc. combined with a theoretical framework one can arrive at a conclusion that the hell will freeze before Jewish majority of Israel will elect a government that would pursue a peace and end the occupation, UNLESS Israel will be subjected to sanctions that would seriously undermine the morale of her elites.

      Under such not-so-hypothetical assumptions one can make several different recommendations.

      1) Great! We recommend to keep the course, expands settlements, keep Palestinians down in various ways, and just prevent sanctions from happening, which is not so hard if “we explain skillfully our positions” to the public (and governments) abroad.

      2) Totally disgusting. The only thing that can save the nation from moral death are sanctions, so we should explain it to the public (and governments) abroad.

      3) Who cares. I am just stating my finding, and to avoid trouble, I am selecting a totally anodyne way to phrase them, and luck has it, it is accepted in a decent journal.

      From the point of view of functioning of a department as a little factory of papers, books and lectures it does not matter a lot if researchers follow route 1), 2) or 3). But what about the children?

      How to break it to young impressionable students that their lecturer is no G.D, and his/her opinions are, well, opinions and not the HOLY WRIT THAT HAS TO BE OBEYED WITHOUT QUESTION? Wouldn’t be better if the person of the lecturer, if not Divine would at least be Divinely Inspired, conveying Objective Truth both by his/her lectures and extra-curricular conduct?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Piotr Berman

      A digression: could you update you biographical sketch, Dahlia?

      “Dahlia is currently writing her doctoral dissertation in comparative politics at Tel Aviv University. The focus of her research is unrecognized (de facto) states. In the fall of 2010 she will begin teaching at Ben Gurion University.”

      Are you Dr. Scheindlin?

      Reply to Comment
    5. aristeides

      Ayla – I think I recall that you are newly come to Israel. Can you think how bad things would have to get before you would pull up stakes and go back? Having to wearing a burqa in the streets?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Henry Weinstein

      Hope all the political science professors from Ben Gurion University will fight back like you do, Dahlia.
      Hope they will explain to the international universitarian community what’s going on, with method and cold blood.
      Suggest to launch a – why not a blog? – counter-study on this biased sub-study, i.e to fight against this occult committee on the political science field.
      Wonder on which legal basis an international undercover committee – what a laugh considering how the Israeli Far Right trust international opinion – coming from planet Ubu is entitled to recommend the closing of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University.
      Suggest to rename this department, Massada sounds fine, Numancia too (see Cervantes’ Numancia: a great Marrane play). You get the picture: those who prosecute us are not what they pretend to be, they are Born-Again Spanish Inquisition.
      It makes think about what one of my Iranian friends told me recently: “Isn’t it totally hypocritical: the Israelis threaten to attack us by all means, and they consider the possibility of us fighting back as an existential threat”.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Dahlia, am I correct that you, who has worked at BGU and must know some professors there, do not know the names of the “international committee”? If so, that is just bizarre: audit committees have to be public, and have to interview the faculty; else the audit cannot make a well informed decision of academic merit at all. Audits regularly ocurr at universities, but not like this.
      Hidden committees can obviously be stacked. It does not matter how good or bad you are as an instructor; this process is so flawed as to be irretrievable. If the politics department is shut down or restaffed, the academic international reaction will be so strong as to confirm the Israeli States view that everyone is out to get them. Perhaps that is what is wanted–to confirm how isolated Israel is, how no one will come to its aid. Are you with us, or against us? No third option.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Sarah Chet

      Gosh, let’s pretend that we do not know what the panel is talking about. Gosh, we never heard that academic standards are dead in the politics department at BGU. Gosh, we did not know that faculty members get hired there enttirely on the basis of their producing anti-Israel hate propaganda. Gosh, we did not know that Zionists and non-leftists are prevented from teaching in that department and that the faculty there harass non-leftist students who speak their minds. We just have no idea what the panel is talking about. And no idea why the entire world looks at the politics department at BGU as an anti-Israel pseudo-acadmic joke. We have never heard about Neve Gordon’s “academic record.”

      Reply to Comment
    9. @ Piotr – thanks for the reminder, I did update the bio. But sorry, no, I have not yet finished my PhD! So no “Dr” yet.

      @Greg – and others – I cannot claim that the committee or its report is secret, only that it hasn’t been publicly released yet, and this is why the problem is just as much about bad reporting as the issue itself. Perhaps it will be published in the coming days. The Yediot article related only the name of the head of the committee, Prof. Thomas Risse from the Free University in Berlin. A quick google search shows that he is a polisci/IR scholar, which means that he may have the qualifications to assess a polisci department, but is also an indication that ONLY this department was examined – since he does not seem to have a background in education or higher education that would indicate his capacity to assess ANY department. Although, we can entertain other theories too – perhaps the committee contained members from various academic fields, and other departments were investigated. But we’ll try to follow the story as it develops.

      Reply to Comment
    10. I lived in Germany 3 years, in the economics department at Bonn (97-99). My experience there was that Germans tend to conciliate (I made the word up) you into submission; things can get very nasty, but, silently so, later. Knowing that a German Prof. Dr. (an assistant director, no less) chaired the committee alters my view of the Ynet quote “The political science professors must note that the opinions they are expressing are personal…so that the students will be exposed to alternative viewpoints.” This is actually very mild. Everybody must have respect, etc. Just listen and we are all ok. Big spectum.

      Nor can I see a well established German academic recommending a shut down at first blush; I even find it difficult to believe he would threaten it down the road; you don’t bring up what isn’t necessary at the momment. Heck, he’s interested in “failed states” and “the rule of law.” Could well attend conferences with rabid Israeli leftists who go into seizure upon mention of Bibi.
      I suspect, just suspect, that the Ynet headline “Recommendation: Shut down ‘leftist’ department” has little basis in reality.

      Reply to Comment
    11. @Greg, i would be relieved on one level if this is a case of merely sensational reporting. The problem is that it appears in an environment of blatant political persecution of the left and whether the report actually demands a shut-down (in the Hebrew it says “if changes are not made…”) is less relevant than the fact that it is increasingly legitimate to intimidate an academic department for the political views of its faculty. And I hate saying that this is due to “leftist” leanings – of course the suffocation of intellectual freedom knows no political boundaries but ultimately infects the minds of all.

      Reply to Comment
    12. jay

      Of course suffocating the intellectual freedom to disagree with the radical Left is perfectly ok, right?

      Reply to Comment
    13. AYLA

      @Aristeides–well, I didn’t move here for ideological or political or religious reasons; I moved for artistic reasons. I need to be here to write a novel, something that I fought for some time, and finally surrendered to. I don’t know if that means that I leave when the novel is done (as my family is hoping); I have lived long enough to know that I do not know the future. So in answer to your question, I don’t think I would leave due to criteria that is not related to the reasons I came; after turning my whole life around to write a book, I’m pretty committed to the project. I think that would only be challenged if I felt very unsafe here (I already drive to Be’er Sheva when there is a threat of missiles falling, so less safe than that), but I can’t know how I’d feel in hypothetical circumstances. The scenario you described–listen: things are bad here, but it doesn’t *feel* that bad in everyday life. In every day life, I have arab friends and we hang out, and I feel, generally, free, and life is pretty normal, all things considered. The threats to democracy are, in fact, so quiet and insidious that it is very important that we raise our voices.

      Reply to Comment
    14. AYLA

      SarahChet…. goodness gracious. Look–you can disagree with Neve Gordon’s call to boycott (although the article he wrote recommending this boycott was actually very thoughtful, and most people who condemn his actions haven’t read this letter)–you can even be offended by his actions–but there is no reasonability in closing down the department, and such ideas go against the core grain of higher education. Students not only have the right to their own opinions in the vast majority of classrooms at BGU; they are encouraged to have them. This is what critical thinkers want from their students. Only people who don’t understand critical thinking–and its necessity in university classrooms–feel threatened by views that oppose their own, or by the idea of professors holding such views. Universities are also traditionally filled with leftist professors. We could have a discussion about why it is that our many of our greatest intellects just so happen to have liberal politics…

      Reply to Comment
    15. Sarah Chet

      Ayla is only in favor of “critical thinking” when it consists of leftist ideological indoctrination. Should anyone criticize the treason of the radical Left, this would not be protected speech or academic freedom. That fact that there is not a single non-leftist in the politics department does not strike her as anti-democratic or pseudo-academic.
      What about Neve Gordon’s well-known intimate ties to Holocaust Deniers and Neo-Nazi, which I guess is what she means by “liberal thinkers.” Is that also serious scholarship? Have you even seen Neve Gordon’s C.V.? His call to boycott Israel was part of his campaign to see Israel eliminated. He himself admits as much. No threat to democracy here that Ayla can see? Maybe she is too artistically disengaged?

      Reply to Comment
    16. Sarah Chet

      Oh and with all this posturing about supposed academic freedom at BGU, I guess no one thought it worth mentioning how the BGU authorities fired Prof. Yeruham Leavitt for daring to express a politically incorrect opinion about children being raised by homosexual couples. Thought police you say? What about Rachel Abraham, the student harassed and persecuted by Oren Yiftachel because she dared to disagree with his extremist in-classroom indoctrination? So where are all the defenders of freedom of speech? How come academic freedom at BGU does not apply to people who are not radical anti-Israel leftists?

      Reply to Comment
    17. aristeides

      Ayla – thanks for your reply.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Sarah Chet – under the amended boycott law, I believe you will be liable for lawsuit should Prof. Gordon decide to press charges for libel based on your public comment about Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis. He does not have to prove damages, and you can be fined NIS 300,000. If he can prove malicious intent, you can be fined up to NIS 1.5m. i am leaving your comment for now as public record, but next time 972 won’t be able to shoulder this liability by giving you a platform, after the law is passed.

      Reply to Comment
    19. sarah chet

      Telling the truth is the best defense against any attempt to harass people using frivolous libel suits. How disappointing for you that everything I said was true. Gordon’s articles regularly appear on the web sites of Holocaust Deniers and Neo-Nazis and also in the Iranian newspapers.

      Reply to Comment
    20. AYLA

      SarahChet–since I’ve never talked to you before, I’ll try once for the record: criticize the left all you want (and I also happen to be against academic boycotts like the one Neve Gordon called for; in fact, they upset me). I’ll only object if you call leftist views “anti-israel”, or if you shut down an academic department…, or if you are so threatened that you have to use words like “indoctrination” so inaccurately. The left believe that their views are what’s best for Israel and the region and ALL the people, here. The right believe that their views are what’s best for Israel (and some say the region and all the people). I would say that the right’s views are threatening and hurting Israel and the future of Israel, but I would never accuse those who hold those views of being anti-Israel. It’s just silly, and goes against the very tenets of intellectual discourse. Neve Gordon (and I can’t speak to everything you wrote–I only know about his position on the boycott) is extreme, and does not represent the average left wing activist let alone any university department. (I would not call the Sheikh Jarrah movement, for example, extreme as I do Neve Gordon–he’s extreme). Should I judge every settler by those burning mosques? I’m not equating anything Neve Gordon has done with burning a mosque; just saying we can’t take each other’s most extreme (and in the world of academia, that’s Neve Gordon), and judge the whole lot. I also have no idea what NG is like in the classroom; he could be a fabulous teacher, or not. certainly, teachers should encourage discourse in the classroom, and if they don’t, that’s a problem. I can only imagine, from teaching in Universities for 12 years, that some students feel their views are not being tolerated because teachers are pushing them beyond fundamental belief toward something more critical and intellectual and concrete and evidenced (which does not mean pushing them further left–it’s an issue of good vs. bad writing / research).
      anyway, the issue here is discourse and higher education. closing down a department suggests that the university itself is not capable of this, and that we are moving toward the Dark Ages.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Bronxman

      “…and there is nothing new under the sun….”

      I remember the Joe McCarthy era in the U.S. back in the 50s. Lots of similarities. The good news is that the witchhunts wound down and faded into a discredited moment in U.S history along with the perpetrators. The bad news was that many decent people had their lives ruined.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Jay

      Well, let’s not forget that there were actual traitors during the “McCarthyist era” like the Rosenbergs. Freedom of speech is no excuse for treason. Ayla’s claim that radical anti-Zionists are actually patriots who care about Israel is about as convincing as similar prtense claims of patriotism by Taliban John and Jihad Jane in the US.

      Reply to Comment
    23. directrob

      Since when is the teacher not allowed an opinion? I think those lessons are the best.
      By the looks of it Dahlia’s course is not really “left wing”. If thought well It might proof just as useful for someone who likes to increase ethnic tension and national feelings as for those who want to reduce it.

      Reply to Comment
    24. aristeides

      Jay – traitors like the Rosenbergs (blessings on them) do not usually stand up in a classroom and identify themselves as such. Actual traitors (like Pollard, may he rot in prison) operate clandestinely, in secret. You comment has nothing at all to do with the situation discussed in this post.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Bronxman

      Jay, catching spies, criminals, etc. is the work of professional investigators – local and federal police – not politicians. Theocracies and dictatorships are specialists in the political approach. It can happen in a democracy, as it did in the U.S. 50 years ago, but I’ll bet that the FBI had more to do with catching the guilty people than McCarthy.

      Reply to Comment
    26. sheridan

      So how about if we fight against the academic traitors who support the enemies of their country in all things by erecting gallows in the middle of each campus?! That is a heterodox opinion proposal I am sure Directrob will want defended. I am sure we can reserve some room on them for Stalinists like Aristeides.

      Reply to Comment
    27. AYLA

      @SarahChet–there is a very big difference between Fascist websites using someone’s work on their sites to their own purposes and the outrageous claim that the (thoughtful, intellectual) author has ‘intimate ties’ with them.

      Reply to Comment
    28. directrob

      I do not approve of torture, I do not approve of the death penalty, I do not approve of violence and most of all I do not approve of insulting Aristeides. What you wrote about him is disgusting.
      I also see nothing wrong with Dahlia’s course whatever one might think about Israel (I did look up the course plan)

      Reply to Comment
    29. Piotr Berman

      If Neve Gordon is “the worst” of Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University then that department is in a good shape IMHO. In the Israeli political scene he may seem “extremist”, but his Wikipedia page does not cite any horrific views. Yes, Virginia, he would divide Jerusalem as a part of peace treaty etc. And he arrived at the conclusion that Israel practices Apartheid and (this is where he becomes extremist) this is a BAD THING. It is much easier to find a public figure claiming that separation of Arabs from Jews in Israel is good, but as practiced now, insufficient, and if Arabs get inferior treatment, they should be treated worse. Here I can cite a number of municipal rabbis, their wives, MKs, university professors, and 90% comment writers in Ynet and JP.

      As far as connections to fascists is concerned, Neve Gordon actually won a libel case against a professor from Haifa. I think that Sarah Chet is in a good shape because it is hard to make a case on the basis of on-line comments, but nevertheless, claims of Gordon being a Nazi sympathizer were reviewed by a Court and refuted. So Sarah will not impress us unless she provides some NEW EVIDENCE.

      This whole affair reminds me a cartoon from Reagan era. And old man is readying his gear and his grandson asks “what will you hunt today, grandpa?” “A magnificent animal, sonny. Once crossing the American scene in thundering herds, now close to extinction.” “A buffalo?” “No, a liberal”. And indeed, it seems that Min. Saar wishes to give Prof. Gordon head to a taxidermist and display it among other trophies.

      Reply to Comment
    30. aristeides

      Stalinist! ROFL! Sheridan is a comic.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Miri

      Actually, Gordon’s own university president, Rivka Carmi, pronounced him a traitor, and strangely Gordon did not file a SLAPP suit against HER!!
      Actually, the judges all considered Gordon to be a traitor but ruled only that it is prohibited to call him a “Judenrat” under Israeli law. In fact, Judge Avraham Avraham, who is now a candidate for Israel’s Supreme Court, ruled that even calling Gordon a Nazi or a Judenrat would have been acurate and appropriate.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Mitchell Cohen

      “Actual traitors (like Pollard, may he rot in prison) operate clandestinely, in secret.” [End of Aristeides]

      So, I presume you believe Mordechai Vanunu (one of the biggest traitors to Israel) should rot in prison as well, right?!?!

      Reply to Comment
    33. Mitchell Cohen

      The BGU politics department should not be closed down!!!! I do feel that it should be objectively examined to see if there is discrimination (towards either end of the political spectrum) towards faculty and/or students.

      Reply to Comment
    34. AYLA

      @PiotrBerman–thank you. You are right, and I actually regretted my own comment for the way in which I may have inadvertently painted NG as one of our most extreme humans. He is not. He is only extreme in the world of Academia, and I did not make that point clearly enough. I suppose that I’m tired of the way that many at BGU keep using his name–and, yes, saying ‘off with his head’– to make absurd arguments. There are plenty of people extreme in their Right Wing views at BGU–who are putting their views into policy–something to which this original post speaks. Again, NG’s original essay calling for the boycott (which most have not read) is quite nuanced and thoughtful; it’s a very good read. I am against the boycott (and as an academic, I believe that targeting Academia, of all institutions, is very misguided and won’t have the desired effect but will stifle a lot of good work/thought/collaboration). And if these Israelis aren’t allowed to present at conferences, that is also a loss because it means that international academics don’t have the opportunity to know these real live thoughtful Israelis). Meanwhile, per your response to Sarah Chet, of course she, and many like her, would believe that leftist academics don’t allow for dissenting views in their classroom, and that they are preaching their own; she is presenting exactly the kind of argument that is abstract, unevidenced, based on fundamental beliefs, hyperbolic, and by objective argument standards–illogical. so if a professor were to give these comments back to her with questions all throughout the margins, getting her to address all of the problems, she would feel her ideas were not being tolerated, even though that same professor is writing similar comments on the abstract, unevidenced, fundamental arguments of the left-leaning student’s essay. She also completely missed Dahlia S’s point (though lately I’ve been so bleary-eyed on these comment threads, I’m not one to talk). Still, though, since I do like to talk: she doesn’t read/listen; she’s on a soap box. like so many.

      Reply to Comment
    35. AYLA

      my favorite part of Miri’s comment is “Judge Avraham Avraham”. 🙂 What a world.

      Reply to Comment
    36. AYLA

      @Ben Israel–I like that article. It’s measured and I agree with a lot of it. Because you are the person who posted it, I want to know if we’re reading it the same way. It seems to me that in the end, his take-away argument– when he says that with so many risking their lives for democracy, we cannot allow ours to be questioned–is not that we shouldn’t question the fact that Israel is a democracy, but, rather, that we must fight this wave of intolerance that, all together, is threatening our democracy. Is that how you read it?
      I just had an argument with a Palestinian friend yesterday who said that the U.S. is not a democracy. He said some other things too–all propaganda and broad, and spoken by someone who has never benefited from a true democratic system. Obviously, democracy in the U.S. is far from perfect as requires continuous citizen involvement and activism. But it is a democracy, and it took living in Israel for me to feel proud of it. Sadly, it is easy these days for people to make arguments against the U.S.’s democratic system. I believe that the author of that op ed (forget his name already) is saying that we need to fight for our democracy, however imperfect, both for our own sake, and because with great power comes great responsibility.

      Reply to Comment
    37. AYLA

      I just want to add, since this has turned into such a public debate about Neve Gordon, that he and his wife founded an elementary school in Be’er Sheva for Arab and Jewish kids to learn together; something that I believe is the most important kind of peace work we can do: making it possible for jewish and arab kids to know each other. Most programs like this exist in places like Jaffa; not the periphery. Thank you, Neve Gordon.

      Reply to Comment
    38. AYLA

      my desert keyboard has so much dust in it that all my punctuation is off. no one cares about this but me, but I would like to apologize, in consideration of the semicolon (and comma, and colon). And now, shabbat shalom. I’m taking a break.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Benni

      The truth is simple.
      Neve Gordon is an anti-Semite and a traitor, who supports all of Israel’s enemies and opposes all acts of self-defense by Israel. He supports Arab terrorists and has called for Israel to be destroyed. He routinely publishes his articles on the web sites of anti-Semites and worse. He opposes freedom of speech for non-leftists and tried to recruit the courts in a SLAPP suit to suppress freedom of speech for critics of leftists. His “academic record” is little more than a joke and contains no bona fide academic publications. He has built a career entirely upon churning out Bash-Israel propaganda. He was hired and promoted by BGU in spite of having an empty scholarly record and holding a PhD from a ninth rate school entirely thanks to the political support for his anti-Israel activism coming from the rest of the tenured extremists of ben Gurion University.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Julian

      Leftists hire and promote other leftists. It creates an environment where students who parrot a far left political agenda are praised and rewarded. Those who don’t are shunned.
      When committed leftists are startled by the radical politics pushed on to students by their fellow Politics Department members something is seriously wrong.
      It’s time to restore diversity of opinion and clean up the Politics Department at BGU.

      Reply to Comment
    41. aristeides

      Mitchell Cohen – I class Vanunu with the Rosenbergs.

      Reply to Comment
    42. Piotr Berman

      Benni: “He supports Arab terrorists and has called for Israel to be destroyed.”

      A good link or shut up. In the internet there is no excuse for unfounded accusations.

      I would also note that there is not dearth of extreme right wingers in Israeli academia, like the professor who lost a lawsuit to Neve Gordon.

      Also, it is not like Neve is raping boys, seducing girls or whatever. He published something here and there. Why such hatred? Why the talk of gibbets (while more humane methods could be proposed)? What is wrong in Israel?

      I mean, surprisingly many people are very quick to hate. And really, to hate anyone anytime. The other day an article in Ha’aretz was trying to discuss why Israeli hate “Europe”. There were some factual observation — indeed, Euro zone has some problems — but strangely disconnected from the topic. Like, are the financial problems, or unwieldy institutions a reason to hate? Or perhaps it is something much milder — an impulse to rant?


      About more humane methods: one could consider pillory:

      When it was only required to stamp a culprit with infamy he was put into the pillory, which was generally a kind of scaffold furnished with chains and iron collars, and bearing on its front the arms of the feudal lord. In Paris, this name was given to a round isolated tower built in the centre of the market. The tower was sixty feet high, and had large openings in its thick walls, and a horizontal wheel was provided, which was capable of turning on a pivot. This wheel was pierced with several holes, made so as to hold the hands and head of the culprit, who, on passing and re-passing before the eyes of the crowd, came in full view, and was subjected to their hooting and jeers. The pillories were always situated in the most frequented places, such as markets and crossways.

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    43. “Civil society group Im Tirzu”
      hahahahahaha! civil. yes.

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    44. The headline is misleading as the recommendation is not to close, even though Yedioth headline says so. Haaretz headline of the same story is “Professors claim to political persecution”. Also, it’s not a research but a report from a MALAG appointed committee.
      Nonetheless, graduate students from the department published a statement to support the faculty and the department. Maybe you would like to translate it into English

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    45. AYLA

      @Benni–any argument about the middle east that begins with “the truth is simple” is bound to be absurd. yours is no exception. (and yes, I am back. I am weak!). @Julian–do you work at BGU? Where are you getting your information that leads you to believe that professors in the Politics Department don’t encourage critical thought? (and not the kind of “critical thought” to which Sarah Chet refers; she seems to think it means criticizing. I’ll go out on a limb and assume you know what it actually means).

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    46. sarah chet

      Actually HERE is what is simple. If Neve Gordon were to issue tomorrow a call to round up all the Jews and load them up onto cattle cars headed for concentration camps, Ayla would insist that Neve’s call was full of nuance, Aristeidis would insist that Gordon is as heroic as Vanunu, the Rosenbergs and his Uncle Joe Stalin, Piotr would insist that there is nothing at all in Wikipedia to indicate that such a call is anti-Semitic or extremist, and Dahlia would insist that his call makes him a valuable scholar who should be promoted at BGU.

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    47. Mitchell Cohen

      “Mitchell Cohen – I class Vanunu with the Rosenbergs.” [End of Aristeides]

      Aside from Israel not exactly being on your happy birthday list, why the double standard when comparing Vanunu to Pollard?

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    48. Mitchell Cohen

      @Sarah Chet, I am not exactly a fan of Neveh Gordon and hardly “left of center”, but I belive there are rules on this site against using WWII (specifically Holocaust) connotation to make comparisons. I am not a moderator, but just thought you should be aware.

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