April 17: About time

David Newman's claim that the left-wing bias in academia is a fiction of the right-wing imagination rings hollow.

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April 16, 2009 20:00
2 minute read.
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About time Sir, - David Newman's claim that the left-wing bias in academia is a fiction of the right-wing imagination rings hollow ("Bashing the academic Left," April 16). To prove that a specific academic failed to achieve tenure or a promotion because of his non-adherence to "politically correct," left-wing views is an impossible task as reasons are never given. It is a known fact that any bureaucratic organization tends to promote like-minded individuals, and the political science departments of our universities are certainly no exception to this rule. It only remains to ascertain if, in fact, these departments suffer from a left-wing bias. Newman is unqualified to determine this for the simple reason that, as a left-winger himself, he naturally assumes that he stands more or less in the center whereas those who differ with him are McCarthyists. To simple people like myself, the answer is clear. A department is out of touch with reality when it can accept, even praise - as the Hebrew University political science department did - a master's dissertation claiming that the reason so few IDF soldiers raped Arab women was because they despised them and considered them subhuman. Furthermore, Newman objects to organizations that publicize the more pernicious slanders perpetrated by left-wing academics and NGOs as infringements on academic freedom and free speech! Opinions can and should be diverse, but facts are sacred. When lies are treated as facts, pointing this out is no breach of freedom, it's a public service. It is also notable that Newman sees no harm in NGOs being funded by governments hostile to Israeli interests, but objects to others funded by individuals. It seems obvious to me that the very term "non-governmental organizations" should preclude their being funded by governments. Newman states that "the last few years have been 'in season' for attacking the academic left." I can only say it's about time. STEPHEN COHEN Ma'aleh Adumim Shining magic Sir, - Barbara Sofer's "Rescued candlesticks" (UpFront, April 10) was very moving. We have five candlesticks in our family. When my husband and I married, my new mother-in-law asked me if I wanted the candlesticks of her grandmother. Being sentimental, I jumped at the chance to use them and carry on the family tradition. She did not know how old they were, just that they had been brought to the US from Russia. So I brought them to Israel, and light them every week. The most precious moment I had was two months ago, when our seven-year-old niece, who lives in Palo Alto and is the great-great-granddaughter, was visiting Israel and lit two of those candlesticks on Friday night. The excitement in her eyes when I told her where they came from was more magical than anything a history museum could inspire. LISA BARKAN Jerusalem The Peres show Sir, - Re "Peres to host TV series" (April 16): I assume that President Shimon Peres, who coined the term "New Middle East" during his former political career, will not be hosting a reality show. YONATAN SILVER Jerusalem

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