One of Israel’s leading universities seems to have lost its way.
In a move that is as incomprehensible as it is shameful, Tel Aviv University (TAU) agreed to allow a student group to hold a ceremony commemorating “Nakba Day,” when Palestinians bemoan the establishment of the state of Israel.
The event included the reading of Palestinian poetry, a moment of silence and the recitation of an alternative version of the Yizkor prayer Jews traditionally say in memory of their loved ones.
In case their intent was unclear, the organizers of this anti-Israel hatefest went out of their way to elucidate the reasons behind it, with one telling Haaretz in no uncertain terms that Israelis need to realize that, “We’re talking about a disaster that must be known on a human level.”
Another student involved in planning the event said she saw it as a way “to remember the tragedy and great loss that befell the people who were here before ’48.”
Have these people lost their minds? What on earth would prompt Jewish students at an Israeli institution of higher education to lament the founding of their own country?
Clearly, something is very wrong at Tel Aviv University. Though ostensibly a Zionist institution, its administration ignored the pleas of various public figures and permitted this outrage to go forward.
Indeed, for an institution whose website states that it has “a deep commitment to Israeli society and the Jewish people,” it is hard to fathom what would prompt university officials to sign off on such nonsense.
After all, this has nothing to do with the boundaries of free speech or the fundamental right to criticize one’s government. It is about delegitimizing Israel and attempting to undermine its very existence.
Promoting Nakba Day is a crucial political goal of the Palestinians. Giving it a platform not only fosters a false narrative of history, but it also plays directly into the hands of those who wish to dismantle the Jewish state.
At a time when Israel is facing existential threats from its neighbors, there can be no excuse for allowing the publicly funded grounds of an Israeli university campus to serve as a staging area for assaults on its continued survival.
Clearly, university administrators have lost sight of one of the essential purposes of education. As the 18th-century political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu pointed out, the promotion of love for one’s country “ought to be the principal business of education.”
This is so patently obvious that it should not even need to be stated.
Then again, given some of the radical faculty that populates various departments at Tel Aviv University, it should hardly come as a surprise that this basic idea has been all but overlooked.
As Dr. Steven Plaut and the IsraCampus organization have been documenting for years, various TAU departments have become hothouses for anti-Israel hotheads.
These range from a professor who denies that the Jews are a nation to another who has referred to the residents of Judea and Samaria as “Jewish Cossacks.”
Yet another TAU instructor justified a Palestinian grenade attack on Israeli soldiers as a legitimate act of resistance while others have affirmed their support for efforts to boycott the Jewish state.
If you find this hard to believe, just go to the IsraCampus website (www.isracampus.org.il) and see for yourself how various anti-Zionist and Marxist loons have been indoctrinating Israel’s younger generation at TAU with toxic views. Anyone concerned for the future of Israel should be concerned by what is happening on campuses such as Tel Aviv University.
A growing cadre of Israeli academics are preaching extremist far-left views and turning the hallowed halls of higher education into profane pillars of puerile Palestinian propaganda.
There is no reason why the Israeli taxpayer, or pro-Israel Diaspora Jews, should continue to generously fund TAU even as it serves to undercut the values they hold dear.
For all their talk of principle, college administrators can be swayed if enough pressure is applied. And that is what needs to be done in order to restore some sanity, and Zionist commitment, to Israeli academia.
So the next time you reach for your checkbook and consider making a donation to Tel Aviv University, do yourself and the Jewish people a favor: stop and think whether your money is truly going to a good cause. In the current environment, chances are it isn’t.
About the Author: Michael Freund is the Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s leading English-language daily, and he previously served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
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