by Isi Leibler
In the politically correct world of infantile leftism, words like sedition and disloyalty have effectively been erased from the political lexicon. Indeed, those daring to employ such terms are automatically smeared as "McCarthyite" or fascist.
What magnifies this obscenity is that university administrators feel obliged to maintain the continued tenure of such immoral and anti-social degenerates on the grounds of academic freedom. Can one conceivably visualize any other institution providing salaries to employees actively working towards its destruction?
The issue came to a head at the recent meeting of the Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University when Marc Tanenbaum, a long-standing American donor and supporter, submitted a resolution calling on the University Senate to review conditions governing the status of academics indulging in “inappropriate behavior” such as promoting academic boycotts of Israeli universities, and recommending that academics be prohibited from listing their affiliation or academic titles whilst engaged in domestic or international forums of a political nature.
The president, Professor Joseph Klaffter, intervened. Grasping the microphone from Tannenbaum, he railed against the resolution and proclaimed that under his watch such a resolution would never be carried and demanded that it be withdrawn. When the initiators called for a vote, he refused to submit the resolution and adjourned the meeting - ironically, on the spurious grounds of academic freedom. Tannenbaum resigned and pledged to mount a campaign to highlight the undemocratic manner in which the university authorities were protecting those who were actively undermining the university and the State.
Regrettably, the TAU scenario represents a microcosm of how the loony left have imposed a regime of madness in this country. It is noteworthy that Anat Kam, who exulted in stealing classified IDF military information in the name of freedom of expression and attempted to present herself as a heroic figure, was educated at TAU, in a philosophy department in which professors called for a global boycott against Israel.
Examples of unacceptable behavior abound: the Chair of the Philosophy Department, Professor Anat Biletzki, is a close supporter of Asmi Bishari ,the Arab MK calling for the dismantling of Israel; Biletzki also gathered signatures for a high school student petition justifying the right to refuse to serve in the army; Anat Matar, another lecturer at the philosophy department, initiated an (unsuccessful) campaign to deny the right of Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, who headed the international IDF law division during the Gaza war, to lecture at its law school on the grounds that she would “justify the killing of civilians, including hundreds of children”; the Law School convened a conference on the subject of the alleged mistreatment of “political prisoners” at which one of the principal speakers was a former terrorist who had been sentenced to 27 years for throwing a bomb at Jews on a bus; Professor Adi Ophir campaigned to lobby embassies in Tel Aviv to impose sanctions against Israel to prevent atrocities in Gaza; TAU academics were prominent signatories in a petition backing the US Berkeley boycott against Israel; two professors, Anat Matar (who earlier participated in a London conference promoting a general and academic boycott of Israel) and Rachel Giora recently signed a petition denouncing The Boston Museum of Art for sponsoring an exhibit of Israeli medical and high tech achievements; etc etc.
Freedom of expression is a treasured feature of democracy but the dividing line must be drawn between academic freedom and breaching the law or indulging in subversive activity. Some liberals like Alan Dershowitz believe that students have “the right not to be propagandized by the classroom by teachers who seek to impose their ideology” and oppose the exploitation of universities by academics as anti-Israeli launching pads, but still insist that lecturers should never be limited even if they promote false narratives which poison the minds of the students and encourage them to hate their own country. Dershowitz believes that the danger of limiting such activity exceeds the damage that can be inflicted and is confident that ultimately truth will prevail.
But that does not justify those who delegitimize and demonize their country being provided tenure of employment. Setting aside the fact that in most societies under siege such behavior would be defined as subversive, I question whether for example such an approach would apply to an academic telling his students that Arabs are racially inferior or that Hitler's genocidal policies were justified. Or for that matter would academics insisting that the world is flat still be assured tenure in the name of academic freedom? I vouch that such people would soon be out of their jobs and justifiably so.
But in this crazy environment it is only the mad left which claims to be victimized when their unconscionable behavior is exposed. For example, in a petition signed by over 80 TAU faculty members, Alan Dershowitz was denounced for indulging in “incitement” for having described as “hypocritical Stalinists”, academics like Rachel Giora and Anat Matar who support boycotts of
Regrettably the State has failed to act in this area because it has become intimidated by the term academic freedom. Likewise out of fear of being labeled McCarthyites or fascists, the Knesset has also been loath to do anything.
I have no doubt that opinion polls would confirm that the overwhelming majority of Israelis would vehemently agree that there are red lines beyond which academic freedom should not be permitted to justify antisocial or subversive behavior such as calling for the boycott of the state.
Universities are the incubators in which future leaders of society are nurtured. It is surely elementary common sense to ensure that such institutions lead the way for constructive participation in civil life. Academics should not be above the law or permitted to engage in anti-social activities on the grounds of academic freedom.
It is a disgrace that we have reached such a deplorable state of affairs under successive governments. Such activities would never have been tolerated under the social democratic Mapai hegemony and I have no doubt that our founding Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, a genuine Labor Zionist, would have turned the country upside down to bring an end to such outrageous behavior.
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