BDS

The Nest of Vipers


This is a guest post from The Bagelnosher Blog

BGU – Ben Gurion University of the Negev – suffered parallel snake problems this week. On two separate occasions, they had to deal with serpents in their midst.

One of the critters they had captured, bagged and hauled away. But when confronted with the other snake, this one they wanted to keep right where he was — in front of the classroom.

The first serpent – a black three-foot long species native to Israel – surprised the staff when it was spotted lurking behind a desk at the nanotechnology building on the University’s main campus. Officials called Beersheba’s official snake catcher who responded to the scene. “The snake wasn’t a poisonous variety,” the snake removal man said afterward. “It appeared to have gotten into the building through an improperly secured air vent. The snake was aggressive, but I caught it and later released it in a remote place where it won’t do any harm.”

The second, equally aggressive, snake is far more dangerous. This one, known as Neve Gordon, walks upright on his own two feet, although he, too, lurks behind a desk at BGU where he’s spent almost a decade bombarding students with his anti-Israel, anti-Semitic tirades. This snake in the grass is treated far differently by BGU officials. Not only was Neve Gordon not bagged and hauled away — instead, the President of BGU, Rivka Carmi, promoted him.

Again.

Up to now, Neve Gordon had been merely a “lecturer” but this week, he was promoted to “Assistant Professor.” For an undistinguished academic, whose writings tend toward hysterical anti-Israel propaganda, how did they justify it? Officials assembled a panel of far-leftist evaluators, who requested letters from other far-leftist anti-Israel radicals, and that did it. Like promotes like.

It’s hardly the first time Gordon has been rewarded for his venomous attacks. Among his first treasonous deeds took place in 2002, when, as a matter of “solidarity” Gordon joined arch terrorist Yasser Arafat in Arafat’s barricaded compound during the “Siege of Ramallah” – in direct defiance of Israeli law. As Arafat’s minions went about murdering every Israeli they could reach – in cafes, buses, wedding halls and pizza parlors — a photo of Gordon and Arafat, hands joined and raised high in brotherly solidarity, appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the globe.

Right after that, BGU granted Gordon tenure – which basically means he can’t be fired. With that one stroke, the possibility of bagging Gordon and relocating him suddenly became far more difficult. But that was the intent — BGU wanted to make sure Gordon stayed right where he was: at BGU, behind his desk, in front of the classroom, where he could best spew his vicious views.

No doubt Gordon met and exceeded the standards set for him. During Operation Cast Lead, when Israel finally responded to nine long years of Hamas rocket and mortar fire on citizens of Israel’s south, Gordon captured the headlines again. As missiles and mortars rained down on Israel – including several that hit the BGU campus – Gordon stepped up to comment. What did he say? He denounced Israel, not Hamas.

When, about a year ago, Gordon became a regular columnist for the Hamas media apologist, Aljazerra.com and began to denounce Israel from that bully pulpit, BGU rewarded him again. They saw to it that he was named Chairman of BGU’s Department of Politics and Government.

Politics and Government! Can you imagine a more dangerous habitat for a snake than that? To appoint a vicious hater of Israel into a position where he gets to set the University’s agenda as it relates to teaching Israeli politics and government?

But it was last summer’s escapade that proved mind-boggling, even for Neve Gordon.

This time he grabbed world headlines again when he published an Op-ed in the LA Times pleading for a world-wide boycott of Israel. What Gordon demanded was for “all foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel”.

“Nothing else has worked,” he lamented. “The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state.”

What happened as a result of that tirade? Not much. There was a furor in the press. A few of BGU’s major donors created a minor stink but probably kept the dollars flowing. Nothing at all happened to Gordon himself.

Even so, there was a silver lining. As a result of that brouhaha, a long-standing situation at BGU burrowed its way into the mind of the body public. It was revealed and understood, finally, that Gordon was not alone in his anti-Israel views. In fact, BGU’s entire Department of Politics and Government endorsed what Neve Gordon had written. Another professor within Gordon’s department, Fred Lazin, recounted how, before Gordon submitted his LA Times article, he told his department what he was going to say. He offered to step down as chair if they thought his words would prove too embarrassing. “There was a unanimous decision not to let him do that,” Lazin said.

The whole Department agreed with him – which isn’t all that surprising, when you think of it. You get a nest of vipers running the department, and of course they’re going to be supportive to others of the same species. They’d already made sure anyone who didn’t agree with them was eliminated – within the Department of Politics and Government, there was zero tolerance for any professor who supported Israel.

As any news hounds knows, BGU is not alone in harboring anti-Israel, anti-Semitic professors on their teaching staffs. Indeed, virtually all of Israel’s Universities suffer one or more of these serpents, professors who work from within to discredit Israel, persuading students to their dangerous points of view. But in virtually all of these other Universities, their Presidents and administration treat the Israel-haters among them with disdain. “What can we do?” they ask. “They’re tenured professors. As the law is now, there’s nothing we can do about it.”

But not BGU. At BGU these professors are nurtured, defended and supported – not to mention promoted.

Throughout each of Neve Gordon’s messes – each time he grabbed world headlines by some denouncement of Israel — BGU’s President Carmi jumped in to defend him, endorse him, support him and take his side. Then, when the furor died down, she’d promote him or see that he was promoted within his department. Yes, on occasion — when donations to BGU seemed to be in jeopardy – Carmi characterized Gordon’s views as “destructive” – but that didn’t stop her from continuing to insist that Gordon’s vicious hate propaganda constituted “serious and distinguished research into human rights.”

But that’s the bad news. There’s good news on the horizon, too — a new dawn seems about to break through. If BGU won’t do anything to clean out the nest of vipers in their midst, someone else will – starting with Israel’s Minister of Education.

On June 21, in a front page story in leftist Haaretz, of all places, it’s reported that Gideon Sa’ar, Israel’s Minister of Education, plans to take action against radical faculty members who call for boycotts against Israel – BGU’s Neve Gordon tops the list on that score.

But that’s not all. In another news story, this one appearing on the NANA news service, comes a report that the District Attorney of the Negev is opening a criminal investigation against BGU for conducting anti-Israel political activities.

How did that come about? According to the website, parents of several BGU students filed a complaint about the ‘preaching of treason’ in BGU classrooms. They filed it with Pres. Carmi, with Gideon Sa’ar, and sent it to the Knesset. Someone in that crowd listened up.

Now perhaps the victimized students at BGU — students who want to study government or politics – will find some relief. Up to this point, if they wanted to pass those courses, they had to parrot the anti-Israel venom spewed by the entire department.

Any change won’t come about overnight, but there is at least hope looming that Israel-hating professors – just like their no-shoulders cousins – can be removed and relocated to some place where their venom won’t infect the young and vulnerable minds entrusted to their care.

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23 replies »

  1. What a tragedy that the one place that should be promoting free thinking- the academy- has instead in too many place become a bastion of a fixated coercive mindset, just like the closed right-wing agenda which these same persons rightfully warn about.

    Its impossible today for a student of political science or anything related to finish his/hers degree without conforming to the lecturers’ increasingly seeping worldviews- left-wing in the US, Europe, and in Israel at Haifa University and BGU. But this is also true to right-wing views in Ariel college for instance.

    I’m not comfortable with the whole snake motif, but the Neve Gordon case is no doubt disgraceful.

  2. FoolMeOnce
    Brainwashing students either to the right or the left is equally reprehensible.

    The main task of higher education as far as I have always understood is to teach people to think freely and objectively about their chosen discipline and to evaluate material and to be able to balance and understand concepts in general. An institution that is a hot-bed of coercion is at best a school teaching more difficult subjects treating the students as children who have to be told how to think and is therefore not a true university.

  3. To the bagelnosher blog:

    Neve Gordon should have been arrested and probably tried for treason when he expressed solidarity with the terrorist, Arafat, during the second Intifada. He surely should have been fired from the University. Mind you, Israelis were being murdered by Palestinian terrorist after the offer of peace at Camp David. Neve is truly a disgusting individual.

    “…………But that’s not all. In another news story, this one appearing on the NANA news service, comes a report that the District Attorney of the Negev is opening a criminal investigation against BGU for conducting anti-Israel political activities…………”

    Careful what you wish for here. Anti Israel political activities? I realize that there are gray areas between free speech and treasonous activities, but investigating an entire University department because you don’t like what they say and teach is an assault on free speech. After all, the idea is to force Professors to refrain from criticizing Israel. I realize that this goes way beyond criticism of Israel, but who is going to define anti-Israel political activities?

    Additionally, doesn’t this give more ammunition to the delegitimizers who, at every opportunity, deny that Israel is a democracy?

    “………They’d already made sure anyone who didn’t agree with them was eliminated – within the Department of Politics and Government, there was zero tolerance for any professor who supported Israel…….”

    Ironically, the far left might pose the greatest threat to free speech. Just look at Great Britain which banned Michael Savage and Geert Wilders from entering Britain. None the less, balancing viewpoints within the Political Science department might be a better option than criminalizing anti Israel speech as offensive as it might be to most Israelis.

    Its quite an interesting debate which only really takes place in a truly democratic society which is exactly what Israel represents.

  4. There is an American law that prohibits giving aid and comfort to the enemy. I believe that it is this sort of crime that Neve Gordon is committing. He is joining the enemy, physically in the case of Arafat, and promoting a BDS campaign as detailed in the two articles he published in the Guardian, in order to weaken the state of Israel and to make it more susceptible to conquest.

  5. Margie, I am inclined to agree with you.

    Israel is a democracy. In a democracy people should feel free to say what they wish. They cross the line, however, when they behave in a manner which undermines their country’s standing.

    George Galloway should have been arrested for his promotion of Sadam Hussein but the UK is cowardly.

    Gordon and his ilk should all be slung into jail for making common cause with Israel’s enemies.

  6. Tom Wonacott

    Additionally, doesn’t this give more ammunition to the delegitimizers who, at every opportunity, deny that Israel is a democracy?

    Yes. It does give some credibility to those who are trying to delegitimize Israel’s democracy wherever they can. On the other hand, donations to the Negev university could be used as a lever but, I am apprehensive about changing accepted norms applying to employment of University staff just because Gordon is so extreme. He is not alone either.

    However, Israel’s universities are shining beacons of light in a mainly dys-functional Middle East. Israel’s position is based in part on their successes and, however awful Gordon is, and he is truly awful, I would be loth to use legislation to interfere.

    After all, there are a plethora of vibrant forums in Israel where Israelis can express their divergent opinions in Hebrew and other languages. Truly a sign of a deep-seated well established and healthy democracy.

  7. JerusalemMite, take note of Mitnaged’s distinctions.

    Thinking vigorously, discussing theories and proposing change are all signs of a healthy society and can only improve it. Physically giving aid to a dire enemy who wants your blood and proposing stringent demands on your society that you hope will cause it to weaken and fail are signs of someone intending harm to your society and can only damage it.

  8. “I’m not comfortable with the whole snake motif”

    I am. It’s a superb idea. Politics, like art, is meant to offend.

  9. Margie, I thought of exactly the same law. Not that long ago, I also read that Americans who are found to have committed treason can be stripped of their citizenship. I’m not sure what would happen to a US prof who went to visit Osama in his cave to show his solidarity with al Qaeda.
    At the same time, it certainly is true that one has to be careful to tamper with academic freedom and free speech. But the problem is perhaps really more with the whole tenure and promotion process: how on earth do fiction writers like Neve Gordon and Shlomo the Sandman ever get promoted? On the basis of writing down their feverish fantasies and finding some publisher for the stuff?

  10. While I deplore Neve Gordon’s politics, I think this is an opportunity to shine a light on the liberties available to Israel’s academics, no matter their allegiances, and decry the lack of those liberties elsewhere in the Arab world.

  11. The first person to boycott, be he an academic or just a fool, or both, is an Israeli calling for a boycott of Israel.

    Of course, Neve Gordon expects that he will NOT be boycotted in the foreign press, but why should he be excluded from the actions he is calling down on all other Israelis? If those he is asking to boycott Israel will not boycott him, Israel should serve him up his own sauce and see how he likes it.

  12. For those worrying about academic freedom and Israel’s image, by comparison, removing someone who calls for a boycott on all israelis except himself is pretty mild.

    Look how the crowd in Gaza does it, for example (and can you believe the Guardian actually printed this – they seem to be having some second thoughts about their preferred terrorist group …)

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/27/hamas-campaign-collaborators-israel-gaza

    Posters and murals have appeared across Gaza City, graphically depicting the consequences of providing information to Israeli intelligence. Some include images of nooses, while others warn that “your people’s blood will be on your hands”.

  13. For every palestinian collaborator that Hamas executes, his whole family will feed information to the Israel Security Service about Hamas. to avenge the deaths of their family members.

  14. Jewish Artist

    “Politics, like art, is meant to offend.”

    Disagree on both counts 🙂

  15. Sababa:

    “Margie, I thought of exactly the same law. Not that long ago, I also read that Americans who are found to have committed treason can be stripped of their citizenship.”

    Ahhh.
    But hang on.
    Is Neve Gordon not Jewish?
    Yes he is.
    What is the purpose of Zionism.
    To build a Jewish home and to create a Jewish haven for all Jews.

    So, stripping Neve Gordon’s citizenship will place him where?
    Let’s say he has no other passport.
    Take him to the nearest border (one in which we know he will be at risk of phisical harm) and leave him there?

    The 2 clash.
    Unless you want to revise the point of the Zionist idea.

    What about Neturey karta?
    Take their passports too?

    What will happen is for people to keep their opinions to them selves and you know how slippery this road is.

  16. I don’t approve of this demonising/viperising/draconising of those pro-boycott like Gordon. However, I believe his students, colleagues and superiors have a right to boycott him and, if this would cause their studies to suffer, to complain about him vigorously. It seems to me the process works both ways.

  17. AKUS:

    “Posters and murals have appeared across Gaza City, graphically depicting the consequences of providing information to Israeli intelligence. Some include images of nooses, while others warn that “your people’s blood will be on your hands”.”

    The UK govt started priniting graphic images of smoking related damage on lungs, feet etc (not nice to see and very yellow / red).

    Do you think people stopped smoking?
    Don’t worry, some people in Gaza still have morals, want to avenge loved ones’ death or just need the cash.

  18. Zkharya,

    This is something good about Israel.
    People can, and have, apply this preassure.

  19. Akus:
    “Of course, Neve Gordon expects that he will NOT be boycotted in the foreign press, but why should he be excluded from the actions he is calling down on all other Israelis? If those he is asking to boycott Israel will not boycott him, Israel should serve him up his own sauce and see how he likes it.”

    I believe Neve Gordon is relying on business abroad to aid him in entry to foreign countries and he, among many others, will be the first to bail out and work abroad, gaining foreign passport and avoiding the boycot.

    This will show how much respect he has for his colleagues who are not able to do the same, and the majority of his countrymen.

  20. JerusalemMite
    “After all, there are a plethora of vibrant forums in Israel where Israelis can express their divergent opinions in Hebrew and other languages. Truly a sign of a deep-seated well established and healthy democracy.”

    Remind me of my niece studying now in TA Uni.

    On some weekends and evenings she is protesting for Israel, and against Hamas while some of her classmates (mainly Arabs) are protesting against some actions the IDF has taken.
    Later on they meet in class and carry on their lives.

    whe I asked her how does it effect you she said it is not “It’s not nice but one must put personal views aside, and we all do. We are all people after all”.

  21. Itsik “What is the purpose of Zionism.
    To build a Jewish home and to create a Jewish haven for all Jews”
    So we will put all Jews in Israel into danger just to protect the rights of this one Jew to destroy the country? Sorry, my friend but I can’t agree with you there.

  22. Margie,

    I believe that public pressure in Israel is more efective than laws in such cases.
    People in Israel show what they believe in.
    All people need to do is expose him in the public sphere and you would have a big circus around him which will make him think twice.
    by large this should come from his students and colleagues.

    These sort of laws belong to the former soviet union and Iran where people are found guilty for having an opinion about a way to resolve a conflict which conflicts with the rulling party’s idea.

    What next?
    Arresting people who call Begin and Shamir terrorists?
    Saying like this don’t sound right and it could delegitimize the country’s struggle for independence.

    I disagree with some of his views with regards to boycotting but I dislike Avigdor Liberman and even though I wouldn’t go as far as claiming his party had “neo facsist tendencies” I will say they behave in manner which alarm me to some extent.

    Do you disagree with Neve Gordon view about the 2 state solution with land swaps?

    What I disagree is people like him ignoring or not equally protesting to obvious Arab racism and attacks by palestinians against both Jews and their own.

    I disagree with his views and stance on some subjects but I believe silencing him is one step which can drag Israel down a slippery road.