Wednesday, June 23, 2010
BGU - Ben Gurion University of the Negev – suffered parallel snake problems this week. On two separate occasions, they had to deal with serpents in their midst.
One of the critters they had captured, bagged and hauled away. But when confronted with the other snake, this one they wanted to keep right where he was -- in front of the classroom.
The first serpent – a black three-foot long species native to Israel – surprised the staff when it was spotted lurking behind a desk at the nanotechnology building on the University’s main campus. Officials called Beersheba’s official snake catcher who responded to the scene. “The snake wasn’t a poisonous variety,” the snake removal man said afterward. “It appeared to have gotten into the building through an improperly secured air vent. The snake was aggressive, but I caught it and later released it in a remote place where it won’t do any harm.”
The second, equally aggressive, snake is far more dangerous. This one, known as Neve Gordon, walks upright on his own two feet, although he, too, lurks behind a desk at BGU where he’s spent almost a decade bombarding students with his anti-Israel, anti-Semitic tirades. This snake in the grass is treated far differently by BGU officials. Not only was Neve Gordon not bagged and hauled away -- instead, the President of BGU, Rivka Carmi, promoted him.
Up to now, Neve Gordon had been merely a “lecturer” but this week, he was promoted to “Assistant Professor.” For an undistinguished academic, whose writings tend toward hysterical anti-Israel propaganda, how did they justify it? Officials assembled a panel of far-leftist evaluators, who requested letters from other far-leftist anti-Israel radicals, and that did it. Like promotes like.
It’s hardly the first time Gordon has been rewarded for his venomous attacks. Among his first treasonous deeds took place in 2002, when, as a matter of “solidarity” Gordon joined arch terrorist Yasser Arafat in Arafat’s barricaded compound during the “Siege of Ramallah” – in direct defiance of Israeli law. As Arafat’s minions went about murdering every Israeli they could reach – in cafes, buses, wedding halls and pizza parlors -- a photo of Gordon and Arafat, hands joined and raised high in brotherly solidarity, appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the globe.
Right after that, BGU granted Gordon tenure – which basically means he can’t be fired. With that one stroke, the possibility of bagging Gordon and relocating him suddenly became far more difficult. But that was the intent -- BGU wanted to make sure Gordon stayed right where he was: at BGU, behind his desk, in front of the classroom, where he could best spew his vicious views.
No doubt Gordon met and exceeded the standards set for him. During Operation Cast Lead, when Israel finally responded to nine long years of Hamas rocket and mortar fire on citizens of Israel’s south, Gordon captured the headlines again. As missiles and mortars rained down on Israel – including several that hit the BGU campus – Gordon stepped up to comment. What did he say? He denounced Israel, not Hamas.
When, about a year ago, Gordon became a regular columnist for the Hamas media apologist, Aljazerra.com and began to denounce Israel from that bully pulpit, BGU rewarded him again. They saw to it that he was named Chairman of BGU’s Department of Politics and Government.
Politics and Government! Can you imagine a more dangerous habitat for a snake than that? To appoint a vicious hater of Israel into a position where he gets to set the University’s agenda as it relates to teaching Israeli politics and government?
But it was last summer’s escapade that proved mind-boggling, even for Neve Gordon.
This time he grabbed world headlines again when he published an Op-ed in the LA Times pleading for a world-wide boycott of Israel. What Gordon demanded was for “all foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel”.
“Nothing else has worked,” he lamented. “The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state.”
What happened as a result of that tirade? Not much. There was a furor in the press. A few of BGU’s major donors created a minor stink but probably kept the dollars flowing. Nothing at all happened to Gordon himself.
Even so, there was a silver lining. As a result of that brouhaha, a long-standing situation at BGU burrowed its way into the mind of the body public. It was revealed and understood, finally, that Gordon was not alone in his anti-Israel views. In fact, BGU’s entire Department of Politics and Government endorsed what Neve Gordon had written. Another professor within Gordon’s department, Fred Lazin, recounted how, before Gordon submitted his LA Times article, he told his department what he was going to say. He offered to step down as chair if they thought his words would prove too embarrassing. "There was a unanimous decision not to let him do that," Lazin said.
The whole Department agreed with him – which isn’t all that surprising, when you think of it. You get a nest of vipers running the department, and of course they’re going to be supportive to others of the same species. They’d already made sure anyone who didn’t agree with them was eliminated – within the Department of Politics and Government, there was zero tolerance for any professor who supported Israel.
As any news hounds knows, BGU is not alone in harboring anti-Israel, anti-Semitic professors on their teaching staffs. Indeed, virtually all of Israel’s Universities suffer one or more of these serpents, professors who work from within to discredit Israel, persuading students to their dangerous points of view. But in virtually all of these other Universities, their Presidents and administration treat the Israel-haters among them with disdain. “What can we do?” they ask. “They’re tenured professors. As the law is now, there’s nothing we can do about it.”
But not BGU. At BGU these professors are nurtured, defended and supported – not to mention promoted.
Throughout each of Neve Gordon’s messes – each time he grabbed world headlines by some denouncement of Israel -- BGU’s President Carmi jumped in to defend him, endorse him, support him and take his side. Then, when the furor died down, she’d promote him or see that he was promoted within his department. Yes, on occasion -- when donations to BGU seemed to be in jeopardy – Carmi characterized Gordon’s views as “destructive” – but that didn’t stop her from continuing to insist that Gordon’s vicious hate propaganda constituted "serious and distinguished research into human rights."
But that’s the bad news. There’s good news on the horizon, too -- a new dawn seems about to break through. If BGU won’t do anything to clean out the nest of vipers in their midst, someone else will – starting with Israel’s Minister of Education.
On June 21, in a front page story in leftist Haaretz, of all places, it’s reported that Gideon Sa'ar, Israel’s Minister of Education, plans to take action against radical faculty members who call for boycotts against Israel – BGU’s Neve Gordon tops the list on that score.
But that’s not all. In another news story, this one appearing on the NANA news service, comes a report that the District Attorney of the Negev is opening a criminal investigation against BGU for conducting anti-Israel political activities.
How did that come about? According to the website, parents of several BGU students filed a complaint about the ‘preaching of treason’ in BGU classrooms. They filed it with Pres. Carmi, with Gideon Sa’ar, and sent it to the Knesset. Someone in that crowd listened up.
Now perhaps the victimized students at BGU -- students who want to study government or politics – will find some relief. Up to this point, if they wanted to pass those courses, they had to parrot the anti-Israel venom spewed by the entire department.
Any change won’t come about overnight, but there is at least hope looming that Israel-hating professors – just like their no-shoulders cousins – can be removed and relocated to some place where their venom won’t infect the young and vulnerable minds entrusted to their care.