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Editorial Article

Ben Gurion University - Neve Gordon (Dept. of Political Science) appointed to Department Head despite anti-Israel "research"

By Shaul Ben Joseph

He barricaded himself with Arafat during the siege of Ramallah, he has his articles posted on Holocaust denial websites, he thinks Israel is a pariah state, he distorted historical facts, he turned the classroom into a propaganda battlefield, he advocated a one-state solution, and yet, he was recently appointed as the head of Ben Gurion University's department of Politics and Government. Will you send your child to study there?

The Negev's Rotten Apple

Consider this madness: One of the most anti-Israeli academics is, from now on, the head of a large department at one of Israel's largest universities. Anti-Zionist Neve Gordon, making headlines recently for calling for Israel's elimination in what he dubs the "one-state solution," is now chairman of the department of political science at Ben Gurion University. The BGU authorities have not had any objection to the hijacking of an entire department in the university by a rabid hater of Israel.

If you have not heard of him yet, read what has been written about him two years ago: "…he belongs to the class of rabidly anti-Israel far-left professors whose trade mark is the delight they take in comparing Israel to apartheid South-Africa and Nazi Germany". These lines were scribed by the world-renowned American legalist, Professor Alan Dershowitz, who went on to say that Gordon is responsible for writing that "consists of anti-Israeli propaganda designed to 'prove' that the Jewish State is fascist."

With Neve Gordon as chairman of political science at Ben Gurion University, David Ben Gurion himself is turning in his grave. One cannot help thinking of Alan Dershowitz's conclusion that "Gordon has gotten into bed with neo-Nazis, Holocaust justice deniers and anti-Semites", or in short "a despicable example of a self-hating Jew and self-hating Israeli".[1]

Take, for instance, Gordon's attitude toward the former chairman of the PLO. Gordon was Arafat's political bedfellow for years. In February 2003, he and some extreme Left-wing Israeli activists violated the Israeli Army's order and entered Ramallah for a solidarity meeting with Arafat. Arafat of course was behind the terrorist wave that engulfed Israel following the outbreak of the so-called ''Second Intifada''. Neve Gordon was photographed with Arafat with hands intimately clasped. Arafat at the time was hiding murderers in his offices, including the assassins of an Israeli cabinet minister, and refusing to turn them over to Israel in violation of the Oslo Accords.

When asked afterwards whether he felt comfortable hugging Arafat, who had been responsible for endless acts of terror, Gordon replied: "I don't know who's responsible for the terror attacks, that's what the media says (sic) and it (sic) receives its (sic) information from the defense establishment and the Shabak…Sharon is the one who wants a second Lebanese war and we want to stop it…".[2]  A picture of the pair was published on most of the Israeli media outlets in which Arafat could not erase the smile from his face, while warmly clasping the hands of his guest from Ben Gurion University.  Ben Gurion University's response to this? It was to promote Gordon and give him tenure!

When Arafat was in a coma, Gordon denounced Israel's representation of him as a terrorist, a corrupt person and an authoritarian leader, and predicted that Sharon would continue in his own policy of "expropriation" of "Palestinian lands." [3]

After Arafat's death Gordon wrote that Israel invented the ''no partner myth" in order to undercut basic Palestinian demands, which Arafat represented, like a full withdrawal to 1967 borders, a capital in East Jerusalem, and recognition of the rights of the Palestinian refugees. Israel, he added, sought "to destroy Arafat's persona, for he had become an international symbol of resistance, a symbol of the Palestinian struggle for self determination". [4]

Gordon's obvious affection for Arafat explains why he vehemently rejects the undisputed notion that Israel is even a democracy. His argument is simple: Israel now consists of "a population of over 9 million people and 3.5 million of them cannot vote.5"  Never mind that the Arabs of the "occupied territories" are not Israeli citizens at all, while Israeli Arabs do vote.  Arabs in Libya also do not vote in Israeli elections.

Gordon's views stem from his unqualified support for Arab violence against Israelis. He has lamented the fact that last July the international media provided extensive coverage of the bulldozer rampage in which a Palestinian constructor worker killed three people in Jerusalem. He also mocked those who branded that murderer a "terrorist," a term Gordon reserves for Jewish rightists. At the same time, Gordon was disappointed that, in comparison, only a handful of media outlets took the trouble to report about the Arab village on Ni'lin which became a scene of violent protests, following a land controversy.[5]

Gordon uses familiar tactics. He refuses to allow discussion of the larger context of the Arab-Israeli conflict and avoids questions about it, when confronting difficult questions in his classroom and in public meetings. "I am not interested in the Arab-Israeli conflict", he told students at the University of Michigan last March. [6]  He maintains that the conflict is between mighty occupying Israel and defenseless weak Palestinians, as if they were no other Arabs forces involved. Gordon always describes Israel as an "Apartheid regime" like that in South Africa, if not worse. As part of the recent "Palestinian Awareness Week" in Michigan and in a public talk titled ''From Colonization to Occupation'', he expressed support for a ''one state solution,'' in which Israel would cease to exist, since a ''two state solution'' will perpetuate Israel as an "apartheid state".[7]

But when it comes to encountering criticism of his anti-Zionists statements, the lecturer from Beersheba refuses to acknowledge any right of free speech to his critics. Indeed, he went to lengths to harass one of his leading critics by filing a malicious SLAPP suit in court, hoping at the same time to make some money. His contempt for principles of freedom of expression was demonstrated when he filed the law suit against Professor Steven Plaut of Haifa University in Nazareth court.  Plaut had accused Gordon (correctly) of being in the habit of endorsing the views of Dr. Norman Finkelstein, who was fired by DePaul University in Chicago and was deported by the Israeli authorities after landing at Tel Aviv airport last summer.  Finkelstein is a well-known figure within the radical anti-Semitic Left, and even flew to Beirut to express support for the Hezbollah during its recent war of rocket attacks against Israel. Finkelstein made a career out of claiming that the dishonest and greedy Jews exploit the Holocaust to make money. Pro-Nazi elements adore his writings and Gordon seems to worship him, even comparing him to the biblical prophets.

Gordon, who was also lambasted by Plaut for illegally entering Ramallah in the height of the Palestinian suicide bombings against Israeli citizens, reacted in a typical way.  He chose a court in Nazareth, where neither he nor Plaut reside, with the aim of winning sympathy from a politically-radical Arab judge. Indeed when the case was brought before Reem Naddaf, an Arab woman judge in the lower court in Nazareth, she ruled in Gordon's favor. Gordon was not only seeking financial damages against Plaut for being ''libelous'', but also demanded that Plaut be forced to compensate him for writing that his academic record largely consisted of anti-Israeli propaganda. [8] Naddaf awarded Gordon 90,000 shekels in compensation and costs, but Gordon then lost his case in the appeals court, which rejected every single demand made by Gordon and agreed to almost all of Plaut's. A panel of three judges there reserved harsh criticism of Gordon, dismissing many of his claims as lies and attacking his anti-Israeli writings, in which he brands Israel as a fascist, Nazi-like, apartheid state...

Gordon also defended Azmi Bishara, the disgraced former Israeli-Arab MK, who is wanted by the Israeli authorities for suspected assistance to Hezbollah and espionage. Gordon does not think that Bishara is a spy, but rather a "symbolic threat, since he personifies the demand to transform Israel from a Jewish democracy into a democracy for all its citizens". In other words the accusations of subversion against Bishara are nothing but a cover for "Israel's resistance to democratic change". [9] While voicing support for Bishara, he falsely accused a decorated IDF officer as being a war criminal, resulting in the barring of his entry into Britain for studies.

Gordon, on his part, denies he is anti-Israeli. But then again so do Finkelstein and Azmi Bishara. On the contrary, he likes to boast that he served in the paratroopers and was even critically wounded in defending the Northern border. He claims to have 42 percent disability as a result of his injuries in an action that took place in Rosh Hanikra. [10, 11] Well, Ilan Pappe and every other rabid Israeli academic hater of Israel also served in the military, so the claim hardly changes the facts about Gordon's biases and ideological agenda.

Thanks to his promoting Yasser Arafat and Norman Finkelstein, Neve Gordon himself is widely admired by various anti-Zionists and anti-Semite preachers around the globe. One of them is Ernst Zundel, a pamphleteer who has been jailed several times for distributing hate literature on the net. Three years ago he was deported from Canada to his native Germany to stand trial for Holocaust denial and he is now in prison. Before that Zundel posted on his website a glowing review written by Gordon of Finkelstein's book The Holocaust Industry. In this review Finkelstein earned the honor of being compared morally to the Jewish prophets. Needless to say that Gordon never took the trouble to mention his mentor's support of Middle East terrorist organizations.

At Ben Gurion University, Gordon evidently never misses an opportunity to use the classroom as a platform for his anti-Israeli propaganda.  He packed up and recycled his venomous anti-Israeli rhetoric when he went to spend a sabbatical year at the University of Michigan. Twice a week, during his "The Israeli-Arab conflict" course, he gave his version of the region's historical events and expressed his own private views as facts, imposed on his hapless students in the classroom. He even took the opportunity to denounce Israel in its current conflict with Iran and justified the Ayatollahs' nuclear policy. According to eye witnesses he was notorious for insulting students who dared to question his views there. On one instance he told the class that he was not interested in giving an unbiased academic history of the conflict. Gordon, according to one of his students, bolstered the anti-Israel climate already present at the University of Michigan. He demonstrated his obsession with demonizing Israel by using anti-Semitic rant and turning the classroom into a propaganda podium.

Five years ago Gordon told his readers that one day, across the hall from his office, someone hung a large note which read "Neve Gordon is a rotten apple". Now, that his colleagues have chosen him to head their department, with the blessings of BGU's president Rivka Carmi, clearly he is not the only rotten apple in the BGU box.

1 Jerusalem Post, 8.11.2006

2. Ynet, 3.2.2002

3. Democracy now, 5.11.2004

4.Taayush, Nov 2004

5. Counterpunch, 3.2. 2004

6. Campus Watch, 4.3.2008

7. IsraCampus,

8. Front page magazine, 5.3.08

9. Guardian, 20.4.2007

10. Peacepalestine, 11.11.2006

11. Wikipedia

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