Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
In the campaign in the UK to organize an academic boycott of Israeli universities, led by the British Association of University Teachers (AUT), it turned out that University of Haifa faculty member Ilan Pappe was the driving force, seeking to create a boycott of his own university. That campaign ultimately fizzled and failed. But attempts by radical anti-Israel faculty members in Israel to promote attacks on their own country continue. Recent campaigns are in some ways more outrageous and far worse than the earlier boycott initiative. The newest campaigns are directed against individual Israelis in their private capacity and are being promoted by some of the most openly anti-Israel of Israel’s academic extremists. These campaigns are based upon demonizing and persecuting individual Israeli military officers as “war criminals” in European courts. As you may recall, a few months ago, an Israeli army officer named Doron Almog
But attempts by radical anti-Israel faculty members in Israel to promote attacks on their own country continue. Recent campaigns are in some ways more outrageous and far worse than the earlier boycott initiative. The newest campaigns are directed against individual Israelis in their private capacity and are being promoted by some of the most openly anti-Israel of Israel’s academic extremists.
These campaigns are based upon demonizing and persecuting individual Israeli military officers as “war criminals” in European courts. As you may recall, a few months ago, an Israeli army officer named Doron Almogwas forced to cancel a private visit to the UK because some anti-Israel activists, including some leftist ex-Israelis, had petitioned a British court to issue an arrest against the former head of Israel’s Southern Command.
One of those seeking the prosecution in the UK of Almog was a lawyer named David Machower, a promoter of the campaign to boycott Israeli universities. Machover’s client, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, is a politicized nongovernmental organization (NGO) that refuses to condemn Palestinian suicide terrorism against Israeli civilians.
Among Almog’s most famous “war crimes” was his role in the Entebbe rescue operation in 1976. He was the first Israeli para-reconnaissance commander to land on the runway at Entebbe, marking it for incoming Israeli airplanes and leading the capture of the airfields control tower in the stunning rescue operation. He also participated in the clandestine airlift of some 6,000 black Jews from Ethiopia to Israel in the eighties.
Is Almog a murderous monster, as the British anti-Semites painted him? Hardly. In a recent interview he was asked about the greatest challenge in his career and he said it was caring for his autistic son. “Taking care of my boy – that’s the most immense challenge I’ve ever faced,” said Almog, watching his son, Eran, frolic in a toddler’s wading pool. Eran is 20. He wears diapers, chews only baby food and cannot speak. Almog is active in groups helping the retarded.
The latest victim of a campaign of leftist vilification is an Israeli army officer named Aviv Kochavi. He was scheduled to begin studies in Britain this summer as a private person at the Royal College of Defense Studies. He has now been forced to cancel his planned trip to the United Kingdom after the Israeli Military Advocate’s Office instructed that he refrain from commencing studies, fearing that he would be arrested on trumped-up charges of “war crimes.” Kochavi has been serving as the commander of the Israel Defense Forces division along the Gaza border.
Like the earlier campaign in Britain to organize a boycott of Israeli universities, this personal campaign against Kochavi is the scurrilous initiative of a fanatical leftist faculty member at an Israeli university. Kochavi is the victim of a venomous vendetta on the part of one Neve Gordon, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Ben Gurion University.
Gordon has conducted a campaign of vilification and defamation against Kochavi for years. Beginning in 2002, Gordon published an article, carried on numerous anti-Semitic and communist websites around the world, declaring Kochavi a “war criminal.” The article not only smeared Kochavi; at the very least it was also a clear attempt to get Kochavi indicted by an overseas court on the weight of Gordon’s trumped-up charges.
Gordon lists his affiliation with Ben-Gurion University in his Kochavi hit piece, in violation of the university’s prohibition against such behavior. In his article, Gordon declares that Kochavi committed atrocities and war crimes against innocent Palestinian civilians, having given direct, personal commands to his troops to do these acts. Gordon lists the supposed use of Palestinians as human shields by the soldiers as one such “crime.”
Now, it goes without saying that this is mere allegation. There have been no charges filed against Kochavi for his behavior in the military or anywhere else. In the battle during which Gordon claims Kochavi misbehaved, Kochavi’s troops were hunting for bands of vicious terrorists, including suicide bombers. Gordon’s claim that Kochavi ordered troops to utilize Palestinian civilians as human shields has been investigated and dismissed as fantasy by the Israeli authorities.
Gordon was hired by Ben Gurion University back when Avishay Braverman, currently the economic trigger man for the Israeli Labor Party, was running the school. Under Braverman’s leadership, Ben Gurion University was filled with anti-Israel leftist faculty members and “post-Zionists.” The Department of Political Science at BGU was so uniformly leftist that it adopted a policy under which no non-leftist was permitted to teach there. The single non-leftist in the department was essentially dismissed for incorrect thinking. Some have characterized Ben Gurion University in the Braverman era as the “Bir Zeit (radical Palestinian college) of the Negev.” Gordon is so extremist that he
The Department of Political Science at BGU was so uniformly leftist that it adopted a policy under which no non-leftist was permitted to teach there. The single non-leftist in the department was essentially dismissed for incorrect thinking. Some have characterized Ben Gurion University in the Braverman era as the “Bir Zeit (radical Palestinian college) of the Negev.”
Gordon is so extremist that hehas repeatedly endorsed and praised the writings of Norman Finkelstein, considered by the Anti-Defamation League to be a Holocaust denier. Gordon has compared Finkelstein to the biblical prophets.
A regular columnist for the rabidly anti-Israel web magazine Counterpunch, Gordon’s writings are so venomously anti-Israel that they have been featured on the website of Ernst Zundel, deported by Canada for his neo-Nazi ranting. Gordon was arrested for interfering with Israeli anti-terror military operations and served as a “human shield “to prevent the arrest of wanted terrorists hidden in Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters.
So why is an Israeli military hero being victimized by a hard core leftist employed at an Israeli taxpayer-financed university? If you would like to ask the new president of Ben Gurion University that question, contact Prof. Rivka Carmi at email@example.com.
Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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