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Editorial Article

B"H

A Day of Shock in Beersheba

By Yocheved Miriam Russo
27/8/2009

Today, many of us in Beersheba – home of BGU, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, named in honor of Zionist supreme, David Ben Gurion – find ourselves in a state of shock.

BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi says she’s “shocked” by the call to boycott Israel made in a LA Times op-ed written by Dr. Neve Gordon, the Chairman of her Department of Politics and Government.

As Prof. Carmi told the Jerusalem Post, "We are shocked by Dr. Neve Gordon's irresponsible statements, which are morally deserving of full condemnation. We vehemently shake ourselves of the destructive views [advocated by Gordon], who makes cynical use of freedom of expression in Israel and Ben-Gurion University."

As for me, I’m shocked that she’s shocked.

Is Prof. Carmi the only one at BGU who hasn’t been watching – and reading, and listening to – the vicious anti-Israel propaganda that Neve Gordon has been spewing for years? Was she unaware of his “destructive views” when just last January she promoted him, made him Chairman of the Department of Politics and Government?

Is she the only one who doesn’t remember how Gordon barricaded himself with Terrorist Supreme Yasser Arafat during the siege of Ramallah? How – for years -- he’s posted his “destructive views” on Holocaust denial websites? How he repeatedly called for Israel to be destroyed through his “one state” solution, in which Jews would be inundated with Arab “refugees”?

Can the head of the University possibly have been unaware that her lecturer in Political Science – and now head of the Department – regularly denounced Israel as a fascist, terrorist regime, one that “resembles Nazi Germany”?

Has she completely forgotten last December’s war, when Hamas rockets and missiles rained down on much of southern Israel, some hitting the BGU campus? Did she forget how, in response, her Department head, Dr. Gordon, didn’t denounce the Hamas terrorists? Instead he denounced Israel for “targeting” the building called “Gaza University”, a structure used as a repository for the rockets intended to kill Israelis.

Was Prof. Carmi really so aloof from faculty affairs that she failed to notice that Dr. Gordon was a regular columnist for the Hamas media apologist, Aljazeera.com, where Gordon regularly ranted that Israel is opposed to peace and was plotting to steal Arab lands?

So it seems. Apparently Prof. Carmi isn’t much interested in anything her Politics and Government Department does. According to Prof. Fred Lazin, who teaches political science within that department, before Neve Gordon submitted his treasonous commentary to the LA Times, he told his department what he was going to say, and 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.

So the whole BGU Department of Politics and Government stands behind Neve Gordon’s treasonous commentary – and the President of BGU is completely unaware of it? For years now, foreign educational institutions have worked to boycott Israeli academic institutions. But the President of BGU, one of seven Israeli Universities, has no idea that her Department of Politics and Government supports the boycott?

So Prof. Carmi wants us to believe, because in her ‘shocked’ denial, she refers to Dr. Gordon as “one rogue faculty member.” I guess she wasn’t aware that the entire Department of Politics and Government endorsed what Neve Gordon wrote.

Even if she doesn’t pay attention to internal faculty affairs, it would be hard for anyone who reads a regular newspaper in Israel to have missed the legal skirmish when Neve Gordon took it upon himself to sue Prof. Steve Plaut, a University of Haifa professor of economics, for libel. Especially after Gordon lost, because one of the appellate judges, Judge Abraham Abraham, made an astonishing ruling all of his own. Even though Plaut had not described Gordon as a “Jew for Hitler”, if he had, Judge Abraham wrote in his opinion, Plaut would have been within his rights.

How many professors does Prof. Carmi have, anyway, who get themselves into messes like this? Professors who sue other professors for libel – which ends up with an Israeli appellate Judge ruling from the bench that her professor could be called a “Jew for Hitler”?

Okay, so let’s suppose Prof. Carmi was indeed oblivious of the litigation itself. How could she possibly have missed the highly colorful newspaper battle that came after, when US legal lion Alan Dershowitz jumped into the fray with a fiery op-ed in the Jerusalem Post? “Neve Gordon,” Dershowitz wrote, “belongs to the class of the rabidly anti-Israel far-left professors whose trade mark is the delight they take in comparing Israel to apartheid South-Africa and Nazi Germany"?

Such ignorance is shocking, especially when Dershowitz characterized Gordon’s writing as "consisting of anti-Israeli propaganda designed to 'prove' that the Jewish State is fascist". Really, wouldn’t you think a University President would sit up and take notice at that? Be a little bit concerned about how one of her Department heads is being portrayed in the international community?

When Dershowitz’ took his parting shot – writing that “Gordon has gotten into bed with neo-Nazis, Holocaust justice deniers and anti-Semites", terming him "a despicable example of a self-hating Jew and self-hating Israeli" – wouldn’t you think that the head of any normal University would be a little leery about having such a person teaching politics and government?

If Neve Gordon had been teaching art or music, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered so much. But to have that kind of anti-Israeli venom spewing from the head of your Department of Politics and Government?  How could she afford not to pay attention?

It’s not as though Prof. Carmi wasn’t in charge during this time. She was appointed President in December of 2005, almost a full year before the whole Dershowitz episode, which had most of the world wondering and shaking their heads over what could possibly be going on at BGU.

If nothing else, you’d think that at least some of her Board of Directors or her major donors would have called some of these incidents to her attention. It’s too bad they didn’t. If they had, then surely Prof. Carmi couldn’t be “shocked” by Gordon’s newest outrage.

The truth is, I can’t imagine how anyone who’s been reasonably aware of University politics could be shocked or surprised by Neve Gordon’s most recent broadside. For years he’s been calling Israel an ‘apartheid’ state. The only new element he added was a few specifics about his proposed boycott of Israel.

Maybe it’s that Gordon’s LA Times proposal doesn’t seem very serious to professional academics. Gordon begins with his traditional observation, saying that “most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state”. He goes on to note that neither pressure nor condemnation from the EU and the US has had any positive effect. So he suggests a bit of stronger medicine, a boycott of Israel, beginning with divestment from companies operating in Judea and Samaria and later moving on to firms which “help sustain and reinforce the occupation.”

"Nothing else has worked," Gordon laments. "Putting massive international pressure on Israel is the only way to guarantee that the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians - my two boys included - does not grow up in an apartheid regime."

Gordon weeps crocodile tears over how difficult this is for him, as an Israeli citizen, “to call on foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel”.

That part I understand. I, too, find it difficult to make the suggestion I’m going to make. Unlike Neve Gordon, I live in Beersheba, home of BGU. One of the biggest employers in our fair city is BGU. Many of my friends work for or are associated with BGU in some way. Normally, I’d fall on my own sword before doing anything that would hurt them or their families in any way.

But -- as Gordon notes – the situation is serious. If we want to save BGU some tough action is required. Dr. Gordon suggests a boycott as a way to gain Israel’s attention. So why not a boycott of BGU, to get Prof. Carmi’s attention?

As seems apparent, Prof. Carmi has been unaware of the anti-Israel venom that has, for many years, been spewing out of her Department of Politics and Government. Not only has she not taken steps to reprove or reform her wayward Department head, she’s done precisely the opposite, not only promoting him, but endorsing him, supporting him, defending him, repeatedly terming his vicious hate propaganda "serious and distinguished research into human rights."

This can’t go on. So here’s my proposal: In order to save BGU from itself, I think a boycott is in order. If we want to save Beersheba’s much-loved Ben Gurion University of the Negev, then we must boycott it.

Don’t send students to BGU. Don’t send money. Send a message. Enough is enough.

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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