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Editorial Article

Ben Gurion University - Rivka Carmi, President of Ben Gurion University, hails anti-Israel activity on her campus

By Lee Kaplan

It is ironic that Rivka Carmi, the new president of Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev was born in 1948, the same year the Jewish state was created. Having spent her entire life during the same time line as the Jewish state, one would expect her to have a perspective of what a miracle it has been for Israel to be created and survived despite incredible odds, lo these 60 years. A physician and geneticist with a medical degree, Carmi’s position within the University system reached a pinnacle when she became president of the campus that was named after Israel’s first Prime Minister, an ardent Zionist. Israeli media went nuts when it reported she was the first woman President of a major university in Israel. She was to be a pioneer and bring good things to BGU.

Her predecessor was Dr. Avishai Braverman, an economist and post-Zionist who is is now a Labor Party Knesset member. Prof. Braverman was rumored to have gotten his job there as president because he was a crony of Shimon Peres. Braverman has no academic publications in academic journals and and so would ordinarily have trouble getting hired for an academic job. He later left to try for election as a leftist in the Knesset. As an economist he usually sought simple bromides by promoting economic illiteracy in Israel’s government such as demanding a higher minimum wage and other entitlements. Carmi was at least a physician with bona fide academic credentials as a dean of the medical school, so only good be hoped for at BGU.

But Carmi’s behavior as head of BGU is anything but pro-Israel or merely just critical of the Jewish state. She encourages and endorses the propaganda programs of radical anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic professors instead. BGU has become one of the worst campuses in Israel, noted for its anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, faculty members and students who openly support the PLO in its goals against the Jewish state. Revisionist history that is decidedly anti-Israel and “post-Zionism” are the continual messages emanating from the humanities and social studies departments there. Meanwhile, Carmi herself, and sometimes through her campus PR flack, Faye Bittker, continues to praise as being good for the University some of BGU’s poorest academic scholars or those with an axe to grind against Israel.

All this anti-Israelism can be considered as continuing with Rivka Carmi’s blessing, since as president of her college she could steer the University toward responsible academic study, but prefers the path letting BGU be a source of anti-Israel activism worldwide that is disguised as scholasticism. Ben Gurion University is central headquarters for some of the most anti-Semitic and anti-Israel professors on the international scene, such as Neve Gordon, Oren Yifchatel, Lev Grinberg and Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin among many others. Benny Morris, once Israel’s most famous post-Zionist (now supporting Israel because he recognizes that Israel’s destruction by those who like to quote Morris’ work will murder him as much as his fellow Jews), also hails from BGU.

Carmi’s predecessor as President of the University, Dr. Avishay Braverman, helped get the ball rolling with anti and post-Zionism on campus by appointing the likes of Benny Morris to the history department when Morris was considered a pseudo-historian whose writings are still nevertheless extensively used by Arab irredentists and groups like the International Solidarity Movement to demonize the creation of Israel as a nakba or “catastrophe” for the Arabs.

Middle East historian Martin Kramer has openly described Columbia University as “Bir-Zeit -on- the –Hudson” because of the American university’s “Palestinian” curriculum and anti-Israel inspired faculty. Bir Zeit University is actually a University in the West Bank where the student political parties are Hamas, Fatah and the PFLP and is a source for promoting terrorism. Since Carmi took over at BGU, the University has come to be called “Bir-Zeit in the Negev,” and rightly so; faculty in the humanities and social sciences almost consistently have an anti-Israel bent and encourage the same among new hires and students. Former BGU anthropology professor-turned-ISM-radical Jeff Halper and Koby Snitz of Anarchists Against the Wall, an ISM affiliate, in the Mathematics department both call the Negev campus home as well even if they are no longer involved as faculty.

Anti-Israel politics, particularly anti-Zionism, pass for scholarship at many world famous universities today, and that appears to be just fine with Rivka Carmi for BGU to emulate. Declaring herself a “socialist”, Carmi aligns herself with many of the goals of Israel’s communist party that also sides with Arab irredentists and she has received praise from ardent Stalinist Israeli academic Jacob Katriel for her being the only Israeli university president to agree to a plan by Katriel to allow any Arabs in Gaza to attend colleges in the West Bank, and even recommend Tali Fahima for an alternative Nobel Peace Prize (Fahima was arrested for helping her Arab boyfriend smuggle weapons to kill Jews). Point of fact, the colleges in the Palestinian Authority are recruiting and organizational centers for terrorist groups, but to Carmi it’s all just academic and the poor little Palestinian dears should not be interfered with if they only say they are studying really, really hard. Tali Fahima, of course, placed Israeli lives at risk and would gladly do so again. Carmi has also stated that she would endorse international boycotts of Israeli universities.

Carmi makes no bones about her opinion about the disputed territories, calling them a “conquest” by Israel in spite of the fact that much of the land was the property of Jews prior to 1948 that was taken back from Jordan and Egypt in 1967. She makes it a point to visit with students protesting against Israel’s presence in the territories on her campus, even shaking their hands (she says she won’t do the same handshake for pro-Israel activists on campus, thus, so much for academic discussion.) Rivka Carmi accuses Israel of denying education to Gazan students in the West Bank and even signed on to a petition over the matter, yet this woman must know the number of terrorists coming out of Palestinian universities. Recently, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem one terror cell supporting al Qaeda was found among Arab students. It is highly unlikely that Rivka Carmi is unaware of such things within Israel’s college system. Yet her insistence that Israel allow free rein of Arab students to traverse Israel from Hamastan in Gaza to the West Bank only shows the incongruity of thought of Rivka Carmi as an educational administrator.

Most other university administrators in Israel only tolerate the anti-Zionist anti-Israel crowds of academics and students at their schools who call for boycotts of their own campuses or who cheer on the terrorist groups. But Rivka Carmi openly identifies with her anti-Israel faculty members and puts the weight of her position behind her in doing so. Carmi has even praised Neve Gordon, one of BGU’s most anti-Israel and anti-Semitic academics on campus, a man who produces regular anti-Israel diatribes in all his work and was a human shield for Yasser Arafat after the Passover Massacre. Rivka Carmi “understands” them, you see.

BGU has traditionally depended on donations from American Jews to fund the University, but when contributors got wind of what was going on, donors began to object. Rivka Carmi, instead of helping to clean up the University’s act as its president, complained that such actions violated “academic freedom”. But let’s face it: “academic freedom” does not mean anything written or fabricated about or against the Jewish state has a right to be heard, while dissenting views supporting the Jewish state do not, and Ben Gurion’s faculty is noted for opposing the Jewish state.

That is an educational system like those of totalitarian and communist countries, countries where radical socialism rules what everyone thinks. Whereas, some faculty at BGU without protest from Rivka Carmi have called for the annihilation of Israel and even served as human shields for Arafat in his compound after the Passover Massacre, or objected to Israel’s controlling overseas Arab academics from entering the West Bank out of security concerns, Rivka Carmi has stated that she considers American donors objecting to funding of such anti-Israel “faculty” at BGU constitutes “trying to dictate the agenda of the University.” She considers donors speaking up as outside interference, but the boycotting her own university by outside interests inspired by overseas radicals as perfectly justifiable.

But isn’t that exactly what Rivka Carmi is doing as President of Ben Gurion University of the Negev? That is, catering to Israel’s enemies and outside interests rather than the people of Israel who pay her salary?


Op-Ed articles appearing on are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinion of