In recent days the University of Haifa in northern Israel, where I am employed, has come under intensive criticism because the “legal clinics” operated by its School of Law are assigning law students the task of counseling and defending convicted Arab terrorists and mass murderers of Jews.
The president of the university issued a statement defending the activities of these clinics. The dean of the law school, together with the head of the clinics, went on the attack and denounced those who criticize the clinics’ practice of counseling and defending terrorists.
The dean, Prof. Gad Barzilai, is a radical who is active in leftist “human rights” groups and involved in academic politicization in Israel. (Barzilai was a defender of the Department of Politics at Ben Gurion University – the worst anti-Israel agitprop center in the country – when an international panel of experts called for shutting it down).
Barzilai claims that all criticism of the law school for its involvement with terrorists is politically motivated. In particular he denounced the Zionist student movement Im Tirtzu for criticizing the law school. Several faculty members at the university called for filing SLAPP suits against the students to silence them, and one anti-Israel faculty extremist complained that the clinics were not defending the terrorists enough.
Im Tirtzu claims that 80 percent of the cases taken on by the University of Haifa’s legal clinic for “prisoner rights” involves Arab terrorists and spies. One involved a terrorist and convicted rapist seeking a furlough.
Dean Barzilai insists the law school is simply devoted to “repairing society” and defending the “weakened populations” of Israel.
In the past, the law school prohibited the singing of Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem, at its graduation ceremonies, claiming it would offend the sensitivities of Arab students.
On a discussion list for faculty members in the University of Haifa, I posted the following as a response to the statement from the dean of law:
To: The Segel-Plus Discussion List
From: Prof. Steven Plaut
Re: Some more Ideas for the Law Clinics to Achieve Social Justice and Help the Weak
Date: November 13, 2013
I am sure we are all grateful for the amazing statement distributed by the Dean of Law and the head of the “law clinics” in the school of law. It is chock full of impressive claims and arguments.
There we learn how the law school is dedicated to achieving reforms of and repairs of society without any need for students (or faculty?) to study social science.
We learn how the law school is dedicated to rehabilitation of prisoners without the need to take any courses or training in social work.
We learn there is such a discipline taught at the law school entitled “feminist law,” as well as dedication to supporting “Palestinian Israelis,” whatever that is, and not only via prohibition of the singing of Hatikvah, the national anthem.
How fortunate that, unlike the Im Tirtzu student group, the law school is not politicized!
And most importantly, we learn the law school is dedicated to recruiting students to counsel and serve imprisoned terrorists and mass murderers because of the school’s concern for “weakened populations,” but clearly not counseling and serving the families of the victims of these terrorists.
Numerous questions arise from reading the distinguished statement by the Dean of Law and the head of the “clinics.”
First of all, we would all like to know whether the university’s law clinics will be defending the gentleman who stabbed the soldier Eden Atias in the neck this morning in Afula, after which he bled to death.
It goes without saying that the law school will not be sending any students to help the family of Atias defend itself or litigate. After all, they live in Upper Nazareth and so are not part of any “weakened population.”
After that, can we expect the law clinics to send out students to counsel and defend the convicted murderers of the child Dani Katz, who was kidnapped and murdered by Arab terrorists just a few steps from the campus?
Surely they are as deserving of such counseling as the other terrorist clients of the law school clinics. But since the family of Dani Katz lives in Denya (a luxurious upscale neighborhood), they clearly are not part of any “weakened population” in need of special attention from the clinics.
But why stop here? What about the terrorists who participated in the massacre of children in Maalot in 1974? I do not know if any of the perps are now in prison or will ever be, but – if they are – surely they are deserving of a special clinic in which students are sent out to promote social justice by defending them.
As for the victims of the massacre and their families, these are no doubt well entrenched in the middle class these days and so there is no need for them to be treated as clients of the clinics.
And why not get ahead of current events? Why should the law school clinics not offer their services to the leaders of Iran, so that if Iran ever uses nuclear weapons against Israel, those Iranian leaders will know they can expect qualified legal counseling and representation from the clinics?
Among those who clearly can never be part of the “weakened population” are settlers, haredim, Russian immigrants, soldiers, and members of Shas (religious party of Sephardic Jews).
More generally, would it not be simpler just to announce openly that the test for being part of a weakened population is participation in anti-Israel activities, while the test for being in a non-weakened population is to be the victim of any of the former?
And since all anti-Israel political groups in the universe these days define themselves as “human rights defenders” – while never of course defending Jewish victims of Arab terrorism because clearly those folks are entitled to no human rights, the law school can form alliances with such anti-Israel groups in the name of human rights. Just as long as it never forms any alliances with any non-leftist or pro-Israel NGOs.
Finally, it is always refreshing when people openly promote the idea that the purpose of a university is to indoctrinate students in far-leftist ideology and to engage in political advocacy.
It helps to prevent confusion of purpose. It helps to convey the single correct point of view. After all, alliance, collaboration, and semi-merger with far-leftist anti-Israel activist groups is not political at all for a university department. Only the Im Tirtzu student group is political.