Saturday, April 17, 2010

Incitement at Tel Aviv University or "Voices from Gaza"?

by Ben Dror Yemini

The following is a translation of a column by the editor of Maariv, Ben Dror Yemini, which appeared in the paper April 15, 2010 in Hebrew can be found HERE

(Steven Plaut's translation)

A Conference to be Held Today will include Speakers from the Radical Left who support the Hezb'Allah and the Hamas. University response: "We are just maintaining academic freedom and independence."


The Law School of Tel Aviv University will hold today (Thursday April 15) a conference under the title, "Voices from Gaza," composed purely of far leftist speakers. It will be based on "video conferencing." Some of the speakers are well known as supporters and defenders of the Hezb'Allah and the Hamas in the United States. Some will appear in live video broadcast from Gaza.

The conference chairman in Israel is Prof. Uri Hadar (Tel Aviv University, psychology) – a signatory on almost all the petitions of the radical Left. These include statements supporting Azmi Bishara and Tali Fahima, as well as support for people refusing to serve in the Israeli army. Maariv has learned that numerous officials in the University are outraged at the holding of this conference but fear voicing their opinion in public.

Recently the Board of Governors of the University has been holding a fierce debate over the radical faculty members there who support the boycott against university. Similar conferences to this triggered rage in the past among donors to the university. But this time it appears a red line was crossed. Because this time the conference was based purely on radical leftist speakers, even though the University is trying to claim otherwise.

From the American side the conference will be hosted by (Hamas apologist and groupie) Sara Roy from Harvard University. Roy has become the chief spokesperson for the fantasy that the Hamas is moderate and pragmatic. She claims unsurprisingly that it is Israel that is completely responsible for the crisis in Gaza, ignoring the Hamas' refusal to accept the conditions of the "Quartet" – something that would end the blockade of Gaza – and completely ignoring the anti-Semitic character of the Hamas. ( )

The Hamas could not dream of a better spokesperson! She is Jewish, daughter to parents who survived the Holocaust, and teaches at the prestigious Harvard. But even in the academic world it is impossible to disguise Roy's un-academic political character. Tufts University refused to publish one of her articles because it was so one-sided (again- Yemini relying on above Plaut expose). In that article she tried to dispute arguments in a book with which she disagreed.

Another American in the conference is Richard Norton. He does for the Hezb'Alloh everything that Roy does for the Hamas. The two even published an article together that explains that the Hamas is just seeking peace and so everyone needs to talk with it.

And there is another one not much different, one Robert Blecher, holding the same positions as the two spokeswomen for the jihad. These jihadi movements, he claims, are not what we thought. Terror? Murder? Oppression of women? Fuggedaboutit! The Jihad does not need its own PR staff when American universities have such "academics." They do the job just fine!

So here we have supporters of refusal to serve in the Israeli army and groupies of Azmi Bishara, on the one hand, meeting with American apologists for terror organizations and people from Gaza complaining about Israeli war crimes. There have been a lot of conferences at Israeli universities dressed up as academic events. But today's Tel Aviv University conference, which is hosted by its Department of Philosophy (home to Anat Kamm, Anat Matar and Adi Ophir – SP), as well as the Minerva Center and the Israeli Center for Poetics and Semiotics, breaks new records.

As noted, some officials at the University are outraged at the holding of this conference, but their timid fears of going public are having the reverse effects. Large numbers of donors now see the University as a bastion of the extremist Left, even though such people are in the minority.

The problem is not in the fact that such conferences are being held, composed of radicals and extremists, but rather in the fact that there is no chance in hell that a conference could be held there from the other side of the political spectrum, composed purely of people holding rightist views on politics and policies. That is why the claims about "academic freedom" sound so hypocritical and shallow, because this "freedom" is reserved for one group only.

Maariv itself asked the University spokesman's office for a response. We asked: "Is Tel Aviv University now a propaganda platform for the Hamas? Are there no other points of view, besides those who support the Hamas, that the University regards as worth being aired? Will the University hold a conference titled `Voices from Sderot,' in which all the speakers are from the Israeli radical Right?"

The response from Tel Aviv University was this: "The Minerva Center for Human Rights (sic), The Center for Poetics and Semiotics, and the Department of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University are hold a joint event organized by Harvard University and MIT in which live video broadcasts will be shown. Three professionals (sic) from Gaza will be interviewed in these from the fields of economics, mental health and civics. These are expected to present their point of view about the state of life in Gaza. After the video broadcast a discussion will be held among the Israeli researchers (sic) attending the conference. As in all other events, Tel Aviv University maintains independence and academic freedom of all those engaged in research under its auspices."


To complain to the heads of Tel Aviv University write:

President, Professor Joseph Klafter
Tel Aviv University
P.O. Box 39040
Tel Aviv 69978
Tel: 972-3-6408254 972-3-6408254
Fax: 972-3-6406466

Rector: Prof. Dany Leviatan
Tel Aviv University
P.O. Box 39040
Tel Aviv 69978

Contact the American Friends Offices of Tel Aviv University:

Other "Friends of" Groups:

The original Hebrew article can be found in Maariv
See this and more relevant articles at Israel Behind the News

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