Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mark H. Tanenbaum of Miami Beach is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore.

He said so, in a letter to officials of Tel Aviv University, a letter which he also made public.

Unlike Howard Beale of ‘Network’ movie fame, above, he didn’t promise to commit suicide on the air to make his point, but Tanenbaum did flatly resign from all of the TAU ‘Big Kahuna’ Boards and Committees to which he’d been appointed. And then, as a final touch, added that he’s no longer donating any more money to the institution.

Kol hakavod. Good for him.

Men of such integrity are hard to find these days: a Major Donor who will not only put his money where his mouth is, but when the ‘mouth’ goes south -- working to destroy the very institution it was supposed to support – then they also have the courage to stop the cash flow, too.

In the sad state of today’s world, few such principled souls exist anymore. Or so it seems from here.

For you in Rio Linda, here’s the backstory: Israel’s seven universities, all of them to varying degrees, harbor any number of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic professors who claim, by virtue of ‘tenure’ that they have the unlimited right to teach their Jew- and Israel-hating views to their students while continuing to accept munificent salaries from the very institutions they’re working to destroy. Worse yet, they also claim the right to publicize their treasonous views to the world at large, acting as official representatives of the Universities that pay their salaries.

In previous blogs, I’ve exposed the nefarious activities of one Dr. Neve Gordon, of Beersheba’s own Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Last August, Gordon penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times titled, “Boycott Israel”. Gordon, who chairs BGU’s Department of Politics and Government, used his official University position and protected status as a tenured professor to issue a public call for “all foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel”.

“Nothing else has worked,” Gordon lamented. Today, “the most accurate way to describe Israel is as an apartheid state.”

To put it mildly, the fur flew when some of BGU’s major donors picked up their daily Times from their doorsteps and read Gordon’s treasonous plea. Individually and as a body, many of them threatened to withhold funds from BGU in protest, unless ‘something’ was done. They wanted the BGU administration to fire Neve Gordon, shut him up or at least clip his wings in some significant way, such as taking the Chairmanship of the department away from him.

Unfortunately, now almost a year has passed, and it seems that their anger amounted to little more than sound and fury.

The lovely and charming President of BGU, Rivka Carmi – who personally has been defending Gordon for years, not to mention promoting him -- flew to LA, met with her ruffled-feather donors in closed session, and by virtue of her charm, persuaded them to keep the cash flowing in her direction. What did she promise? No one knows, but apparently nothing. Gordon certainly was not fired, in fact he wasn’t even demoted. He remains Chair of the department.

Today nothing is heard from BGU’s Major Donors, either. To the best of my knowledge, there were no principled resignations. Did donations dry up? Perhaps, but much of that could be attributed to the economic crash in the US as well as to dissatisfaction with BGU’s treasonous Department of Politics and Political Science. Apparently few, if any, donors carried through with their threats to end their cash support.

That was BGU, last summer. But just a few days ago, a roughly comparable situation presented itself at Tel Aviv University with a very different result. Since I wasn’t there, I’ll let Mr. Tanenbaum tell you himself what happened – and what he did.

Here’s the letter he wrote to Robert Goldberg, Chairman of TAU’s Board of Governors; to Roni Krinsky, President of American Friends of Tel Aviv University; to Dany Leviatan, Rector of TAU; and Asher Susser, Director for External Affairs of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at TAU.

Read it, and salute Mark Tanenbaum, a man of courage and integrity. He did what the BGU donors should have done.

Here’s Tanenbaum’s letter:

May 11, 2010

To: Robert Goldberg
Roni Krinsky
Dany Leviatan
Asher Susser

To my dear friends Bobby, Dany, Roni and Asher,

I am formally submitting my resignation from all of my positions at Tel
Aviv University forthwith and shall no longer be donating any funds. This
includes my positions on the Board of Governors, the Board of AFTAU and the
Board of International Overseers of the Dayan Center.

My decision is based on the shockingly unforgivable behavior of president
Klafter toward me and my fellow governors at today's closing plenary.

As you know, a few of us governors proposed a resolution on the issue of
the TAU academics promoting a worldwide boycott of our university. The
resolution requested that the University and Senate investigate this issue
and come to some conclusion about our findings on this matter.

After the proposed resolution was read, President Klafter grabbed the
microphone and began to rail against the resolution. He stated more or
less, that under his watch no such resolution would ever be passed, and
that it would infringe upon the free speech of the radical academics. He
insisted that our proposed resolution be withdrawn.

Although it became obvious as the meeting progressed that we did not have
enough support to pass our resolution, we still wanted to proceed with the
vote, so that we could express our opinion formally.

When we did not withdraw our proposed resolution, as president Klafter
demanded, he abruptly adjourned the plenum, thereby denying us and those
who supported our resolution the right to vote in its favor.

How ironic that president Klafter denies me MY right to free speech, by
not allowing a vote on our resolution, but has no problem protecting the
rights of those harming the university.

I am shocked and outraged at this undemocratic and egregious behavior by
someone in his position.

I will be sure to tell all existing and potential donors of how our right
to free speech at TAU is based upon Klafter's personal view of your
particular issue.

It is now obvious that as an academic at TAU, you can promote a boycott
of the University and have nothing to fear. Their right to harm the
university is guaranteed under president Klafter's protective wing.

Mark H. Tanenbaum
Miami Beach


  1. Well this is a neat little Catch 22, or damned if you do amd damned if you don't. It would seem that the only effective way to protest against calls for boycotting these institutions is [drumroll] to effectively boycott them.

    It will be interesting when the start of the academic year rolls around, with the inevitable hikes in tuition and inevitable student strikes protesting that. That might turn out as the occasion for the sh-t to hit the fan on these boycott appeals and the resulting reductions in donations. Perhaps as a budgetary move some of these schools (TAU, BGU, Haifa U) might be moved to close down their Poli. Sci. faculties. I WISH!

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