A Day of Shock in Beersheba
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
‘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
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
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
That part I understand. I, too, find it difficult
to make the suggestion I’m going to make. Unlike Neve Gordon, I live
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
attention. So why not a boycott of BGU, to get Prof. Carmi’s
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
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
much-loved Ben Gurion University of the Negev, then we must boycott
Don’t send students to BGU. Don’t send money. Send
a message. Enough is enough.
Op-Ed articles appearing on IsraCampus.Org.il are those of the writer and
do not necessarily represent the opinion of IsraCampus.Org.il