National Catholic Reporter
Israeli Web site watchdogs
You recently ran an op-ed by Neve Gordon about the Israel Academia Monitor organization, a reprint of what had appeared as one of a pair of two pieces in the British Times Higher Education Supplement. In the interest of fairness, I think you should also tell readers about the second of the pair of pieces, which puts the matter into balance. In that second piece, “Israeli Web Site ‘Outs’ Campus Extremists,” I wrote:
“Israel Academia Monitor, like its American cousin Campus Watch, has begun recording the more outrageous statements of academic extremists.
“The U.S. Web site has long been controversial for publishing some of the loopier statements of faculty members who pose as Middle East ‘experts.’ Campus Watch has outraged members of the academic left wing, who denounce it for its ‘McCarthyism.’
“Now Israel Academia Monitor has aroused similar outrage and denunciations. Those being documented by the Web site watchdogs complain it is an attempt to deny them free speech. Poppycock!”
In his Jan. 7 piece in the NCR attacking Israel Academia Monitor, Neve Gordon forgets to mention that he himself is one of those upon whom the new site focuses because of his fanatical anti-Israel propaganda writing, some of which is so extreme that it is carried by neo-Nazi Web sites and by Islamic fundamentalist magazines endorsing al-Qaeda!
The Web sites of Campus Watch and Israel Academia Monitor are little more than collections of direct citations published by the extremists in question. True, the monitors express the desire for donors to the universities to review the material and make their views heard regarding the political activities of faculty members.
What is wrong with donors also having the freedom of expression?
No one is denying academic freedom to the extremists, even though there are serious questions as to whether their words always fall within the bounds of what should be legitimately protected.
You can read the entire article at: israel-academia-monitor.com.
Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa.
Neve Gordon responds:
I have met Professor Steven Plaut a number of times in an Israeli court room, since I am suing him for publishing slanderous articles in which he calls me a “fanatic anti-Semite,” “a Judenrat wannabe,” “a promoter of Hitler” and “a groupie of the world’s leading Holocaust denier.” An article by Plaut, asking his readers to harass me, also appears on the racist Kahane Web site (and they obediently complied). He has even initiated an international campaign to have me fired. It seems he spends much of his time monitoring my articles and smearing my name. In his letter to NCR, he continues his defamation campaign, for which, as mentioned, he will have to answer in court