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December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Haifa University’

Haifa U. Denies Prof. Aumann Honorary Award because of Politics

Monday, December 16th, 2013

The University of Haifa’s Executive Committee said it decided not to grant an honorary doctorate to Professor Robert Aumann, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics in 2005, because his political beliefs do not fall in line with the university’s values.

The university was concerned about several Zionist positions espoused by Aumann, including a remark that “the most sensible solution” to the Israeli-Arab conflict is “a Jewish state and an Arab state, where the Jewish state is settled by Jews and the Arab state is settled by Arabs,” as well as a statement that Jerusalem “needs to remain Jewish.”

“Judging someone based on his political positions is extreme and extraordinary and should not be done in an academic institution,” Member of Knesset Shimon Ohayon (Likud Beiteinu) said regarding the university’s decision.

The University of Haifa said in a statement, “The process of choosing candidates to receive the honorary doctorate is a several-phased process. Only at its end are the recipients announced and reasons offered. The process is not over yet. Deliberations are internal and not meant for publication.”

Israeli Arabs Launch ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

What began as an anti-Israel campaign throughout the world, is coming to Israel, with a conference on “Israeli Apartheid” to be held Wednesday in the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth, Maariv reports.

The conference, held as part of the “Apartheid Week,” will feature Dr. Yousef Jabareen, senior lecturer at Haifa University, who will speak about “racism within the Green Line,” and Dr. Haidar Eid, a professor from a Gazan university, who will speak over Skype about “the similarity between Palestine and South Africa before the removal of Apartheid laws.”

Event organizers are young Arab activists who are members of the local branch of the BDS movement, which leads the international boycott campaign against Israel.

Raja Zaatara, one of the organizers and a member of Hadash party politburo, said: “The green line has a policy of apartheid and the territories have a regime of apartheid. In Israel there are dozens of laws explicitly speak about rights that are exclusive to the Jews, for example, the Law of Return, and various real estate laws.

“If anyone in the U.S. or in Europe chooses to boycott Haifa University because it discriminates against Arabs, or Tel Aviv University because it runs more than 50 projects for the Army, I can quite understand them,” said Za’atra. “If I was a Belgian or French citizen, I would be boycotting Israel in order to influence the situation. The boycott is a legitimate tool of civilian struggle.”

Abir Cobti, a female political activist and one of the organizers of the conference, says that the purpose of the event is to help isolate Israel in the international arena. “We will continue to engage in promoting economic boycott against Israel as a legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people.”

The “Im Tirtzu” movement, dedicated to reviving Zionist values in Israel, criticized the participation of Dr. Jabareen in the Nazareth event.

“This is yet another play of the Theater of the Absurd, which continues to break new records. Arab citizens of Israel—Israelis such as Dr. Yousef Jabareen, who lectures in Israeli academic institutions and even heads an academic institute in Israel, taking part in a conference accusing the state of Israel of apartheid,” said Im Tirtzu Chairman, Ronen Shoval. “This conference is part of hallucinatory Antisemitic propaganda campaign against Israel and against Israeli democracy. “

Israel’s Totalitarian Left Never Sleeps

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

There is a species of radical leftist that believes the main purpose of taxpayer-funded universities is to indoctrinate students in radical left-wing ideology. Such people believe the only legitimate form of scholarly research and teaching is to force upon students the ideas and agendas of the left because only these represent correct thinking.

For them, the highest form of academic inquiry is to engage in one-sided advocacy. They believe faculty members at universities should be hired mainly, if not exclusively, on the basis of their devotion to radical leftist ideology.

They believe classrooms should be arenas in which students are immersed into leftist NewThink.

They believe student grades should reflect the extent to which the student toes the ideological line of the radical left.

They believe academic conferences and research forums should be restricted to those who advocate the left’s political agenda, while non-leftist dissident thought should be suppressed and barred.

Most important of all, they believe those who dare criticize the radical tenured left should be silenced and denounced.

The totalitarian left believes taxpayers are morally obligated to fund the teaching of extremist ideology in the classroom, including by people advocating the demise of those same taxpayers and of their country.

It is the job of citizens, insist the academic leftists, to sit back passively and pay for the far left to operate propaganda centers, while the radicals collect their cushy salaries as payment for advocating their anti-Israel agenda.

It is the job of universities, the tenured left maintains, to criticize (actually to demonize) the state of Israel – just as long as no one is permitted to criticize those critics of Israel.

Nowhere is this ideological extremism so clearly on display as in the Department of Politics at Ben-Gurion University (BGU), a pseudo-academic propaganda and indoctrination center disguised as an academic department. It is not the only such department in Israel or at BGU, but it may well be the worst.

Last year an international panel of experts appointed by the Israel Council of Higher Education (which oversees and funds universities) called for shutting down this BGU department altogether, due to the abysmally low quality of its work its having replaced serious scholarly research with one-sided advocacy.

The far left faculty members in the department denounce Israel in unison, and some call for world boycotts of Israel. In response to the CHE criticism of the departmental obsession with one-side advocacy, BGU hired three new politics faculty members in order to generate diversity and pluralism – but the three new ones are also leftist radicals.

Students in political science classes at BGU who dare to express pro-Israel opinions tell of being penalized and harassed by the faculty. The single non-leftist faculty member who taught in the department was fired a few years back for incorrect thinking.

Diversity and pluralism in the department consist of people of various ethnicities, genders, heights, and weights all advocating leftist and Marxist ideas. Diversity of thought is mercilessly suppressed, and serious academic standards are trashed.

In recent weeks, the totalitarian left has been circling its wagons in solidarity with the Department of Politics at BGU. Leftist-dominated academic associations are flooding the press and the CHE with angry demands to defend the right of the Department of Politics at BGU to engage in “advocacy” and leftist indoctrination.

Recruited by members of BGU’s politics department, foreign members of the academic left and Israeli tenured radicals have been leading the campaign to defend the BGU propagandists.

The campaigners demand that the right of BGU leftists to indoctrinate and propagandize at taxpayer expense be defended against CHE criticism and interference. The defenders of the department insist that “positivism,” i.e. actual scholarly research, is only one legitimate strand of academic activity in political science, meaning they really want ideological indoctrination to be the “alternative” function of academics.

A recent one-sided conference devoted to advocating political advocacy as the proper calling for academia was held at Ben-Gurion University. Participants were greeted by BGU President Rivka Carmi, who regularly insists she is not aware of any one-sided advocacy or indoctrination activities held at BGU. This is the same Carmi whose belief in pluralism was manifested in her firing Prof. Yeruham Leavitt because he dared express a politically incorrect opinion about children being raised by homosexual couples.

Israeli Buildings Pink-Lit to Fight Breast Cancer

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

The tall buildings of Haifa University and the Naveh Nof residential Tower in Bat Yam were lit up in pink Tuesday night in solidarity with an international breast cancer awareness campaign.

The effort is sponsored by the Israel Cancer Association and cosmetics maker Estee Lauder, and seeks to encourage Israeli women to get regular mammograms and breast exams to prevent breast cancer.

A recent report by Israel’s Health Ministry showed that the risk of breast cancer is rising among Jewish women in Israel, with 1 in 7.5 at risk of developing it.  Rates among Arabs are dropping.

Over 200 buildings around the world are taking part in this year’s campaign, including the Empire State building, Buckingham Palace, and the Sydney Opera House.

In 2010 the walls surrounding the Old City in Jerusalem were lit up in pink for that year’s breast awareness campaign.

The Amazing Saga Of Two-Gun Cohen

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

In November 1947, the United Nations was considering the creation of a Jewish state in parts of Western Palestine and a new Arab state in the other parts.

The hopes of the Jews rested in large part on China. The five-member Security Council had to approve putting the resolution before the General Assembly, but China, one of the five, was threatening to veto it.

The head of the Chinese delegation was approached by a hero of the Chinese campaign against the Japanese during World War II, a man who had been a general and senior adviser to President Sun Yat-sen. The general persuaded the delegation to abstain. The Security Council voted approval and the Partition Resolution was sent to the General Assembly, where it passed. Modern Israel came into existence.

The general who persuaded the Chinese not to oppose the resolution was not Chinese himself – but, in fact, a Jew born in Poland in 1887.

Morris Abraham Cohen was brought to London from Poland when he was still a toddler and grew up in the impoverished East End of London. By the time he was 12 he had become a skilled boxer and a pickpocket.

He quickly amassed a police arrest record and his family sent him to reform school until he was 16. Once released, he went to Canada to work on a farm in rural Saskatchewan, near some Indian reservations. The farming bored him; he preferred work as a carnival barker and con man. This got him arrested yet again and he did some jail time.

While wandering the Canadian West he became friendly with the local Chinese. Cohen liked Chinese cuisine (what Jew doesn’t?) and the Chinese outlook on life.

One day Cohen wandered into a Chinese eatery and realized the owner was being robbed. Cohen beat the robber to a pulp. The Chinese were so impressed, they embraced Cohen as one of their own. He joined the local chapter of nationalist leader Sun Yat-sen’s political movement and started to pick up some basic Chinese. Cohen raised funds for Sun’s movement and helped procure arms.

After serving in World War I as a Canadian soldier, Cohen headed off in 1922 to China with plans to work as a railroad developer. But once in Shanghai he found work as a writer on the English-language newspaper associated with Sun Yat-sen’s movement.

The Chinese called him Ma Kun (“clenched fist”), which was as close as they could get to Morris Cohen. He procured arms for a warlord of Canton in the 1920s and was adviser to Wu Tiecheng, the Canton police chief who later became mayor of Shanghai. Cohen began to serve as part of Sun’s guard force, and eventually commanded the entire 250-man presidential bodyguard unit.

Always armed, Cohen managed to defend Sun from more than one assassination attempt. After Cohen was wounded in his hand while driving off one group of assassins, he started carrying a second pistol and local Westerners immediately dubbed him “Two-Gun” Cohen, the nickname he carried with pride for the rest of his life.

Eventually he was appointed head of the Chinese secret service. His sidekick was another Jew, an anti-Soviet Russian named Moses Schwartzberg who had been part of a plot to assassinate Lenin in 1918.

Because of the importance of the Schwartzberg-Cohen pair, Yiddish became one of the three languages of the Chinese secret service, after Mandarin and English. Schwartzberg would later organize a regiment of 1,200 Jewish volunteers to fight for Israel in its War of Independence.

After Sun Yat-sen died, Two-Gun Cohen was named commander of the Chinese 19th field army. He worked for a while for Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek. He led Nationalist troops in fighting against both the Japanese and the Chinese communists. He was the only European ever to serve as a Chinese general.

When the Japanese invaded China in the 1930s, Cohen worked for British intelligence. Just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hong Kong was invaded by the Japanese. Two-Gun got Sun Yat-sen’s widow out safely on one of the last planes to escape. Cohen himself was captured by the Japanese and thrown into the Stanley Prison Camp, where he was beaten and mistreated.

After the war he lived in Canada, where he helped the Zionists obtain arms for Israel’s War of Independence. He eventually returned to England, where he died in 1970. On his tombstone in Manchester his name appears in English, Hebrew, and Chinese characters. His funeral was attended by representatives from both Chinas, which were still at war with each another. It was the only thing in the world on which they could agree.

The Passover Peacock

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

It was a few days before Passover when I first heard the horrific cackling. “What,” I asked family members, is that? It sounded just like the longtime leftist agitator Shulamit Aloni. But it wasn’t.

Soon thereafter my wife came running into the house.

“There is a peacock downstairs in the yard,” she proclaimed.

Hmmm, just in time for Passover, I said to myself.

Down I went to investigate. And there standing in our yard was a giant turkey, like something out of a Thanksgiving poster in a Walmart store.

We live not far from the Haifa zoo, and various critters, especially those in possession of wings, tend to escape the place in search of friendlier, quieter surroundings.

The zoo, you see, is rather noisy. Late at night throughout our neighborhood one can hear the elephants in the zoo making loud noises. And – how shall I put this delicately – the noises they are making are not from their mouths.

Zoology is not my wife’s strong point, so you will have to forgive her classification error in ornithology. But she had good reason for mistaking the turkey for a peacock. Years back we actually had a male peacock refugee – long blue peacock feathers and all – take refuge in our yard.

The kids were young back then and nicknamed the peacock “Notsi,” from the Hebrew word for feather, notz. The yard guest lost a feather, which we saved and still use to this day in the late-night search for any crumbs of chametz the night before the Passover Seder.

The kids discovered that peacocks really like Bamba, a peanut butter-tasting Israeli puffy snack. Bamba, by the way, is kosher for Sephardim during Passover, and it seems peacocks must be Sephardic because they love gobbling up Bamba even during Passover. We know, we fed it.

The newest “Notsi” was, however, an obnoxious and aggressive male turkey. The various cats on the street found themselves intimidated and chased down the block by the monster whenever they came to investigate and got too close.

No one quite knew what to do with the turkey. Being the only American around, I of course proposed fattening it up and trying to keep it around until the last week of November, when all Americans know just what the proper use for such yard guests should be.

The neighbors, however, cringed at the thought of the noisy gobbling lasting that long.

Meanwhile, the children all along the street were carrying plastic bags full of chametz out to the garbage containers. I invited them over to feed the scraps to our Passover turkey instead of dumping or burning them. I am sure it was the highlight of Passover for many of them, and for years they will remember feeding the beast far better than they will recall reading about Pharaoh in the Haggadah.

The Passover turkey did have some problems during the actual days of Passover, though. It was not crazy about matzah – not even egg matzah or French toast-style matzah.

Anyway, the parking situation near the zoo was horrendous during Passover, with some cars stopping as far away as the front of our building just to get to the zoo. But the lazier families halted their climb up the hill when they got to our yard. They let the kids chase and photograph the Passover turkey.

Alas, the turkey did not last very far into the counting of the Omer. One morning it was just gone, and I suspect one of the other critters that lives in the Haifa wadis or gorges came out one night and had its own snack. There are wild boars and huge porcupines down there.

There went my plans for Thanksgiving!

But all is not lost. I went for a climb up the Carmel today to get some serious coffee, and a few buildings up the hill from my own I heard a new but different cackle. It wasn’t Shulamit Aloni this time either. (She has never quite recovered, by the way, from letting Hansel and Gretel escape her clutches.)

This time it really was a peacock, the newest refugee from the zoo, though a female this time, meaning she did not have any of those glorious blue feathers. If she hangs around until Shavuos, I’ll let you know if she eats cheesecake.

Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Title: God’s Favorite Prayers

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Title: God’s Favorite Prayers

Author: Tzvee Zahavy

Publisher: Talmudic Books


 

            God’s Favorite Prayers, by Tzvee Zahavy, makes for fascinating reading. It is an intelligent, sometimes amusing, and always highly readable essay addressed first and foremost to those who know “everything” – those so familiar with the prayers that they don’t really need a siddur to follow the service.

            At the same time the book can also serve as an appetizer, a first introduction to the synagogue and its most significant prayers, for those from outside shul life – people who have not been inside an Orthodox synagogue since their bar mitzvah.


It is livened by autobiographical reminiscences that include how shul felt for the author, as the son of the rabbi of what was then Zichron Ephraim and later the Park East Synagogue. The combination of growing up as the rabbi’s son of one of the most prestigious Orthodox congregations in New York City, and the intellectual honing provided by being part of academe for many years, prepared Zahavy well for writing this unique presentation of Jewish prayer as practiced in the synagogue.


Indeed, his background and credentials make him eminently qualified for this undertaking. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees, as well as rabbinic ordination, from Yeshiva University, where he spent four years studying with Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. He then earned a Ph.D. in religious studies from Brown University, and went on to pursue an academic career at the University of Minnesota, where he was a professor of Jewish Studies and was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award.


In God’s Favorite Prayers, Zahavy describes the prayer service as it is encountered in real-life synagogues, defining it as a series of discrete and somewhat diverse elements that have their own internal coherence. At the same time, it somehow synchronizes and creates a rewarding whole.


The major thrust of the book is what, lacking any better term, I call the psycho-emotional dimension – not the literal meaning of the prayers but rather the impact that their recitation should or could have on regular synagogue goers. It is particularly successful in evoking a renewed spiritual dimension, respecting texts whose essence sometimes tends to fade through their constant use.


The prayers are categorized typologically, a separate chapter being devoted to each of the following: The Performer’s Prayers; The Mystic’s Prayers; The Scribe’s Prayers; The Priest’s Prayers; The Meditator’s Prayers; and The Celebrity’s Prayers. The chapter headings are not intended to indicate either their authorship or their history, both of which Zahavy considers to be largely unknown and, in any event, irrelevant for his purpose.


Following these chapters is one on the Kiddush, both as a special blessing recited several times during the Sabbath or holiday and as the social event held in many synagogues immediately following the Sabbath morning service.


The book closes with a short epilogue portraying the emotional experience accompanying the blowing of the shofar, particularly, but not only, at the close of the Yom Kippur service.


While the book will ring a bell for regular synagogue attendees in all countries, it will have particular resonance for those used to the American experience. An especially noteworthy example: particularly American is the endeavor to be respectful of women vis-à-vis the synagogue experience.


Zahavy has succeeded in relating to women and addressing them “at eye level” as real and active participants in the prayer experience, without “moving the curtain aside” or giving them an active part in the pageantry of the prayer service that in Orthodox Judaism is considered to be an exclusive male domain. He somehow manages to provide his women readers with a feeling of inclusiveness,without their intruding into the traditional male domain of the synagogue service.


He achieves this primarily by choosing women as the archetypes in several of the chapters. He not only uses the biblical Hannah to introduce his discussion of The Mystic’s Prayers. He doesn’t hesitate to introduce a contemporary woman in the ensuing narrative to illustrate his point. So too Zahavy places a lady at the center of his description in his chapter on meditation.


An important insight that in and of itself makes the book worthwhile is its illustration of one of the major axioms of the nature of Jewish prayer – that it is the one who prays who, in the last analysis, determines the content of the prayer that is recited. While the words of the prayers provide the common denominator that make it possible for communal prayer to take place, it is the individual prayer of each of us (and even our own prayer at different times) that provides the common and virtually timeless text with contemporary and personal meaning.


While I too have taught prayer in university classes, and hopefully was interesting and informative, this book is entirely different. While I concentrated on content and sources, Zahavy’s aim here is to re-evoke dimensions of meaning in texts whose familiarity has caused their sharp meaning to fade. For all these and other reasons, the book is an enjoyable read and well worth the time doing so.


Dr. Naomi G. Cohen taught for many years at Tel Aviv University and Haifa University, and is a senior research fellow at Haifa University. She has published extensively on Jewish liturgy and on Philo Judaeus, including Philo’s Scriptures: Citations from the Prophets and Writings. She is married to Rav She’ar Yashuv Cohen, former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Haifa.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/title-gods-favorite-prayers-2/2011/10/05/

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