August 23: Barak's judgement

Having held the valiant men chosen to the protection of Israel in high regard, I must voice disgust at the reported weight-throwing behavior of Ehud Barak.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Barak’s judgement
Sir, – Having held the valiant men chosen to lead our sons in the protection of the Land Israel in the highest regard, I must voice alarmed disgust at the reported weight-throwing behavior of Ehud Barak (“Defense minister criticized over expedited army chief nomination,” August 23). He made a choice, not for reasons of competency or general approval, but for a malicious personal show of one-upmanship, which unfortunately leaves a slur on his choice for future commander.
Sir, – Our defense minister has a super inflated ego (“Barak shows defense establishment who’s boss,” August 23). Pity us that such a man has been entrusted with guarding us. Don’t we deserve better? E. POR Haifa
BGU head irks readers
Sir, – Regarding “McCarthy vs Voltaire in Beersheba” (August 20), your interview with Prof.
Rivka Karmi, president of Ben- Gurion University of the Negev, raises several alarming points.
First, she says that Im Tirtzu’s letter “does not deserve the dignity of a reply.” May I ask why? Surely the public and university donors deserve to know whether the charges are true or false. Second, how is it that a senior faculty member, Dr. Neve Gordon, who, as your interviewer states, has “publicly called for a boycott of Israel” (and therefore of his own university) was appointed head of the Politics and Government Department? Prof. Karmi says: “My request from faculty members is that they don’t link between their private work and their university work.”
One of course has the right to personal political opinions. The politics of an anatomy professor make no difference to a medical student, but it takes a certain naivety to say that the political opinion of a head of the Department of Politics and Government would not color the direction of his teaching and curriculum to the extent that it colors the marking of his students’ papers.
Equally disturbing is the fact that six out of 11 members of the faculty are active in calling on Israelis not to serve in the army in the West Bank, and that some have anti-Zionist beliefs. This in the university named after the Zionist proclaimer of the State of Israel!
Sir, – After Prof. Karmi’s expansively liberal declaration of being prepared to “defend to the death” the right to express divergent views, one is compelled to ask why Im Tirtzu is excluded.
Surely, the president of BGU is able to distinguish between Im Tirtzu’s program, which encourages donations to the university, albeit on a selective basis, and Prof. Neve Gordon’s advocacy of a total boycott of Israel, which denies Israel’s legitimacy and poses a dire threat to its security, the well-being of its citizens and the continued viability of its academic institutions.
Finally, the gratuitous mention of the McCarthy era in the context of Prof. Karmi’s remarks raises serious questions about her own lack of judgment.
Sir, – With all due respect to Prof. Rivka Karmi’s erudition, Voltaire never said what she quotes him as saying. And, contrary to her opinion, we cannot simply abhor, but must not tolerate people who do or say things against Israel.
Israel is not an abstraction. It is home to six and a half million Jews: men, women and children.
The poison spewed almost on a daily basis by a number of political science professors at Israeli universities endangers us all.
Sir, – BGU President Rivka Karmi and others like her have allowed anti-Israel academicians to flaunt their association with the university while hurting Israel here and abroad through calls for economic and other boycotts as part of an extreme leftist agenda. In their campaign for specific political policies against Israel, these activist BGU professors use their academic association as a claim to authority. This has nothing to do with “critical thought” as a “cornerstone of academic scholarship.”
It is entirely political.
Now that Im Tirtzu is borrowing a page from the leftist handbook by advocating a boycott of BGU coffers, Karmi is outraged.
But she is speaking up not for democracy, but for a special status for academia. Which cow she worships is clear.
Karmi does not need to lecture anyone about the ethics of using Zionism to silence people while her anti-Israel minions preach boycott all over Europe. Leftist domination of the news and entertainment media, academia and the arts has long shunted public opinion to the side. Using their overwhelming access to the public domain, leftists have suppressed contrary public opinion, to wit, the protection offered by the news media to scandal-ridden Ariel Sharon during the critical moments leading up to Gaza disengagement. Leftist academia, no less than the mass media and politicians, has agendas it promotes with its own spin.
Demanding special status for the areas they dominate, ostensibly in defense of democracy, leftists nonetheless expose their hypocrisy when they eschew democratic expression. (I recall the leftist opposition to a public referendum, perhaps the most democratic of options, on the disengagement.) Just as it is in the US with regard to the Tea Party, so it is here with the academic attempts to stifle Im Tirtzu.
Karmi is a spokesperson for Leftist elitism, not democracy.
As leftists want to hurt Israel in the pocketbook, I say it’s time to turn the guns on the pocketbook of the leftists who seem to be centered (no pun intended) at BGU. It’s time to disengage from some of those ivory towers.
The Euro parliament on NGO Monitor
Sir, – On behalf of Ms. Hedi Hautala, chair of the European Parliament’s sub-committee on human rights, I would like to draw your readers’ attention to a serious mistake in Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg’s August 19 column (“NGO transparency will protect democracy”).
According to Prof. Steinberg, “In a June 23rd hearing of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, officials from two Israeli NGOs – the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and Mossawa – portrayed criticism of the secret process by which they are funded by the EU as a McCarthyist conspiracy. And they demonstrated their commitment to free speech by attempting to prevent NGO Monitor from speaking at the hearing, falsely claiming that the latter was a governmental organization (in fact NGO Monitor was the only organization invited to speak that does not receive funding from any government).”
I am always aware of different views among members of the parliament, but as the official responsible for organizing the hearing, I can assure you that at no time did any NGO try to prevent NGO Monitor from taking the floor.
GEOFFREY HARRIS Head of Human Rights Unit European Parliament
Each drop is precious
Sir, – The Water Authority is now installing aerators in homes in order to save 25 billion liters a year (“100,000 aerators distributed in two weeks,” August 18).
One other source of saving tremendous amounts of water would be a change in the placement of solar water heaters.
It would be far better to install the solar panels on the roof and the holding tank either in the apartment or on an outside wall close by. This would reduce the waste of cold water before the hot water arrives.
One has to assume that such a solution would be “too logical” to impress our Water Authority!