May 31: BGU under fire

To site Talmud as support for BGU’s “do nothing” approach to virus of self-hatred is inappropriate.

Ben Gurion UNiversity 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ben Gurion UNiversity 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
BGU under fire
Sir, – Rivka Carmi (“Universities are in the footnotes,” Comment & Features, May 29) is certainly too intelligent to be accused of naivete, and likely too decent to be accused of mendacity. So perhaps it is the economic interests of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev that impel her to obfuscate the clear and present danger of the many anti- Israel faculty members on her payroll and in a position to brainwash or browbeat students into anti- Zionist conformity.
That only 10 professors are openly abetting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement is entirely beside the point. These 10 are merely the tip of an iceberg that has many more adherents who do not yet have the courage to call outright for BDS against Israel.
Surely, Carmi is aware that the odds of a non-leftist being hired by BGU’s social sciences faculty hovers at around zero. As for tenure, that would be out of the question. In liberal arts the statistics are hardly better.
The sages of the Talmud may have engaged in boisterous, even rancorous debate, but there was a line one never crossed – that of outright heresy and apostasy. To site the Talmud as support for BGU’s “do nothing” approach to the virus of self-hatred is inappropriate, and to tolerate even one BDS-spewing professor is to tolerate one too many.
Hopefully, the overseas board members and donors now on their annual pilgrimage to Beersheba will not be fooled by their president’s deflections.
Sir, – There are a few truths and some good ideas in Rivka Carmi’s defense of BGU’s handling of its problematic professors, but for the most part she chooses to ignore the reality that has invaded the ivory tower.
It is certainly true that 10 or so professors out of 5,000 is a very small number. And it’s a good idea for the ethics committee to ask professors to draw a clear line between their academics and their politics. But the reality of life on campus tells another story. (Our son is a student at BGU, and this letter was written in consultation with him and a number of fellow students.) While it is reasonable to ask a chemistry professor to keep his politics to himself while lecturing about polar bonding, it begs reason when you ask the same of a political science professor. And the problematic professors are concentrated in the political science department led by Prof. Neve Gordon.
According to several students we spoke with, nine out of the 11 political science professors routinely present anti-Zionist ideas in the classroom, and belittle and embarrass students who present the Zionist narrative. For instance, a student who referred to the “liberation” of Jerusalem in an exam found his paper corrected with the word “occupation.” This certainly violates the recommendation of the ethics committee.
These professors are doing anything but encouraging the “critical thinking and alternative perspectives” that Carmi rightly aspires to.
Moreover, they are roaming the world and using the mantle of “Israeli political science professor” to talk as “experts” about Israel’s past and present sins.
The students did not cause Gordon to write an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times in August 2009 calling Israel an apartheid state and calling for support of the BDS movement. Carmi has the story backwards. The students are reacting to this noxious behavior.

Jerusalem Scottish book ban...
Sir, – I read with concern that a Scottish municipality has banned Israeli authors’ books from its library shelves (“Scottish council bans Israeli books,” May 29). However, it turns out that the ban will not be retroactive, so I hope that the writings of the prophets of Israel as published in the Hebrew Bible will not suffer the fate of banishment.
Also, since the ban applies to books actually published in Israel, I assume that the town’s library goers will still have access to those writings by the Author of the Bible’s five books of Moses, which He published at Mount Sinai as He led the children of Israel to the promised land.
Sir, – What a dark and dangerous action to take. Mind you, the Scottish church has tried to ban all sorts of “things Jewish” for centuries.
Nevertheless, I am shocked at this move by the Dunbartenshire Council. I wonder if the Bible is included in the list of banned books?
Moshav Sde Nitzan
 ...and Scottish spelling
Sir, – On May 29, in your Business & Finance section, a headline read: “Status in a bottle, whiskey takes off in China.” The article uses the spelling “whiskey” throughout, except when it mentions the Scottish Whisky Association.
To quote the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary regarding “whisky” versus “whiskey”: “This isn’t a case where a small group of fanatics are insisting on some highly personal interpretation of an issue that is not adhered to by anyone outside their cult. It’s almost universally the case that the word is spelled “whisky” in Scotland and Canada, and “whiskey' elsewhere.”
So that settles it. Scottish whisky exists, but Scottish whiskey does not. I can accept discussion regarding Bibi, ’Bama and border disputes, but, please, leave my wee dram o’ whisky alone!
Bibi was great
Sir, – I commend Isi Leibler (“Mr.
Prime Minister, you make us proud,” Candidly Speaking, May 26) for his wise counsel: “...Domestic unity is crucial....”
I find it remarkable how so many people from both the Left and the Right in this country have had the audacity to criticize Prime Minister Netanyahu for his actions in Washington. I would love to know: Would they have been able to do a better job? At a time when Israel is facing a massive delegitimization campaign, finally someone stood up and proclaimed the Jewish nation’s right to live in its historic homeland in freedom and security.
Right now we need all the support we can get, and with so many standing ovations, for once all Jews everywhere had a chance to feel proud. As friends of mine in the US said, “Bibi spoke unbelievably well – with so many standing ovations it was awesome.” It is a pity so few senior political officials here congratulated him likewise, especially, as Leibler points out, in this “period of crisis.”
Who are these people?
Sir, – It has been very disappointing that The Jerusalem Post has not had any follow-up stories on “Egypt FM meets with ‘Israeli Initiative’ leaders” (May 20).
Is it lawful for the “Israeli Initiative” group to be involved in Israeli foreign affairs? What is the source of funding for this group? Israel is still suffering from the Oslo process, where a group of non-elected citizens representing a minority of Israeli voters engaged in foreign affairs. Can’t we learn from history?



A May 26 letter from Lily Sherwood referring to the article “French nationals living in Israel to get their own representative in the National Assembly” (May 23) should have ended as follows: “It failed, in particular, to mention the non-partisan deputy mayor of the Paris suburb Neuilly sur Seine, Philippe Karsenty, whose almost single-handed and unrelenting fight to expose the truth about the Mohamed al-Dura hoax deserves Israel’s and the Jewish community’s gratitude.”