Professors of hate
The flow of new initiatives from academics throughout the world seeking to delegitimize Israel continues unabated. Now the emphasis is directed towards anti-Israeli boycotts as exemplified by the recent outrage from the British Association of University Teachers.
Sadly, in many universities, academics of Jewish origin have assumed key roles denigrating Israel often claiming to do so out of "a sense of Jewish justice."
But the most harmful academic purveyors of hatred against the Jewish state are located at our own universities. They demonize their own country and try to persuade their students that Israel was born in sin. Their negative impact abroad is devastating.
University of Haifa political science professor Ilan Pappe would undoubtedly qualify for the title of doyen of the haters of Zion in Israeli academia. He constantly brackets Israelis with Nazis and urges academics throughout the world to delegitimize Israel.
Pappe gained added notoriety as the supervisor of a master's thesis which alleged that the Alexandroni Brigade had massacred hundreds of Arabs during the War of Independence. Veterans of the brigade instituted libel proceedings against the author, Teddy Katz, who conceded in court to having falsified interviews from alleged Arab witnesses. But despite the exposure of his rogue scholarship, Katz – with the endorsement of Pappe – continues to travel around the world repeating the same lies.
In a call to the British Association of University Teachers just prior to their boycott resolution, Pappe appealed to them "as an Israeli Jew who for years worked for other ways to bring an end to the evil perpetuated against the Palestinians in the occupied territories, inside Israel, and in the refugee camps to be part of a historical movement to bring an end to more than a century of colonization, occupation, and dispossession of the Palestinians."
Obscenely anti-Israeli outbursts by Hebrew University historian, and head of the German Studies department, Moshe Zimmerman qualify him as a worthy competitor to Pappe. A Tel Aviv judge who rejected Zimmerman's libel suit against a critic, condemned his repeated comparisons "between Hebron youth and Hitler Youth; between the motivation and conditions of service in IDF units and that of the Waffen SS between the Bible and Mein Kampf."
There are many other Israeli academics promoting similar views:
Ran Hacohen, who teaches comparative literature at Tel Aviv University described "Israel as fulfilling Hitler's dream" and referred to the assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin as "a milestone in the process of the barbarization of mankind."
Lev Grinberg, director of the Humphries Institute for Social Research at Ben-Gurion University, accused the Israeli government, in a Belgian newspaper, of "state terrorism." He also described the "murder of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as an Israeli policy that may be described as an act of symbolic genocide," prompting a Foreign Ministry official to accuse him of treason.
Binyamin Beit Hallahmi, professor of psychology at the University of Haifa, claimed that "Israelis are haunted by the curse of original sin against the native Arabs Its memory poisons their blood and marks every moment of their history."
Ze'ev Sternhell from the Hebrew University history and political science department wrote "There is no doubt regarding the legitimacy of the armed resistance in the territories themselves. If the Palestinians had a bit of sense, they would concentrate their struggle against the settlements."
Baruch Kimmerling, the Hebrew University sociologist, and others leapt to the defense of the anti-Israeli academics at Columbia University, currently under fire for intimidating Jewish students.
Not surprisingly, these defamers of Israel are hailed as courageous fighters for human rights and have become darlings of the global anti-Israeli academic circuit. Their loathsome statements are exploited by the boycotters to cover-up the odium of applying double standards against Israel and displaying anti-Semitic prejudice.
In response to complaints about these activities, all university administrations adamantly refuse to take disciplinary action. They insist that academic freedom is sacrosanct and that under no circumstances will they intervene. Apparently such sensitivities do not apply to the British University Teachers Association whose boycott explicitly exempts Israeli academics willing to denounce their country's "colonialist and racist policies."
It is surrealistic to witness universities funded by Israeli taxpayers being used as launching pads for international activities designed to undermine Jewish statehood under the mantle of academic freedom.
It is equally bizarre for Jewish donors motivated by Zionist and pro-Israel sentiments to contribute funds which indirectly provide platforms for self-loathing Jews to demonize and delegitimize Israel.
Paradoxically, ADL head Abe Foxman, himself a passionate champion of freedom of expression, was one of the first Diaspora leaders to challenge the passivity of Israeli university administrations. After becoming involved in the Columbia University imbroglio and having urged Columbia president Lee Bollinger to take action to prevent anti-Israeli faculty from exploiting their positions, Foxman felt he could not remain silent as similar abominations took place at Israeli universities.
Israel is a nation under siege, facing existential threats. Is it unreasonable to deny anti-Israeli faculty the use of our universities as staging grounds for campaigns to delegitimize the Jewish state? There is certainly no doubt that the vast majority of Israelis would endorse the need to rein in academics who exploit universities as platforms to provide succor to those who seek to destroy us.
It would therefore be timely for the government to set up a commission to enable a public discourse on the role of publicly funded institutions which are being exploited to undermine the security of the nation in the name of academic freedom.
Is that fascism? Only if one associates democracy with a license to incite and subvert the state in the name of freedom of expression.
Besides, in most countries, the growing threat of global terror will in the near future undoubtedly necessitate encroachments, on what has hitherto been considered as unfettered freedom of expression. If the survival or physical welfare of citizens is at risk, most governments (in contrast to Israel) would implement whatever measures are deemed necessary to protect their welfare.
The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and is a former chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress.