by Ben-Dror Yemini
The following is a translation by Steven Plaut of excerpts from Maariv editor Ben Dror Yemini’s recent column:
In a certain Israeli university department, a seminar included the presentation of “field research” on the subject of Israeli colonialism under the occupation. The seminar was conducted by a professor who is active in the BALAD (Arab fascist — SP) party and his two course assistants were radical leftist activists. The “field research” for the course was funded by radical leftist organizations.
In a different school a book was published containing articles about the Israeli control of the occupied territories. Every single chapter, with no exceptions, was written by radical leftists. In a different school of social sciences, 10 out of the 11 members of the faculty are radical leftists. In the past and following complaints from students, we exposed the fact [in Maariv] that a “law clinic” is being operated by the University of Haifa that is an extension and subsidiary of the [radical Arab nationalist, anti-Israel -- SP] ADALAH organization. This is the same department that in the past cancelled the singing of the national anthem at graduation ceremonies. All the above is just a very small sample. New findings indicate that the problem is worsening.
What is interesting and fascinating is the automatic Pavlovian reaction of all the spokespersons and officials — that it is all just academic freedom. [… ] Yes of course having a marketplace for competing ideas is essential. The problem is that the competition of ideas is disappearing. In many a department in the social sciences, there exists hegemony by anti-Zionist and post-Zionist ideology.
In a certain academic journal recently an article written by a professor who is a member of MERETZ was rejected because it carried some Zionist content. In other journals, articles that do not toe the line and sing the anti-Zionist tune are rejected by an editor who is part of the anti-Zionist choir. The university heads, who are not part of this trend, are living in denial. [… ] The result is the liquidation of academic freedom.
In Israeli academia, anyone who is not a member of the bolshevik horde has difficulties finding positions and getting in, and his articles will not get published, or he will simply be treated as an outcast. So the problem here is not heterodox ideas and opinions, or even the university law clinic that functions as an extension of a radical political organization. The problem is quite simply that Israel is losing its academic freedom, which is being replaced by academic bolshevism. Because there is not the slightest chance in hell that any university will ever open a law clinic that is under the control of some radical rightwing organization, and it is good that this is so. But every case of “collaboration” is always in a single direction, that with radical leftist organizations.
It is quite possible that the “Im Tirtzu” student group is, as the university chiefs claim, interested in provocations. Fine — let the university chiefs prove that their charges are false. Come show us cases of collaboration between university units and NGOs that are not from the radical left, similar to the collaboration between the University of Haifa Law School and ADALAH. To demonstrate for us the pluralism that is flowering. But the universities have nothing to say in their defense besides charges of “provocations” and “McCarthyism.” There is something very, very alarming going on in Israeli academia and it is nothing less than the suppression of academic freedom.
It was only last year that the bolshevik campaign succeeded in stifling criticism of the Department of Politics at Ben Gurion University. And it does not matter who is expressing the criticism. It is not only in response to criticism from right-wing NGOs that the kneejerk reactions proliferate. It was exactly the same reaction when the critics were a panel of international experts. In fact it is the same reaction heard when even professors from the sane moderate Left speak out.
The problem is that all these activities and “collaborations” with NGOs always are in a single direction with a single ideology. The problem is the absence from the university course syllabi of publications that do not toe the ideological line of the leftist choir. The problem is that students feel intimidated and stifled. This is not academic freedom but rather its diametrical opposite.
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