Israel’s Tenured Extremists

By Ted Belman

The Middle East Forum just published a long well researched article by Prof Steven Plaut titled Israel’s Tenured Extremists It included reference to a broadside delivered by Alan Dershowitz when he received an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University.

The Dershowitz Counterattack

Probably the most dramatic exhibition of the problem came at the national assembly of the governors of Tel Aviv University in the spring of 2010. The keynote speaker invited to the affair was Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. While left of center, Dershowitz is passionately pro-Israel and, at the same time, vehemently opposed to infringements upon academic freedom.
Upon receiving an honorary doctoral degree at Tel Aviv University, Dershowitz gave a dramatic speech denouncing the homegrown, anti-Israel cadre of lecturers dominating Israeli universities.[25] He defended the rights of these academics to exercise freedom of speech—or, in his words, the “right to be wrong.” But he also defended the rights of others to denounce and criticize them.

In no time, Dershowitz confronted the all-too-common refrain sounded by these scholars that they are only engaging in legitimate criticism of Israel. To the contrary, Dershowitz contended, these people were actually often engaged in delegitimizing Israel itself, calling for world boycotts against the Jewish state, and at times calling for its annihilation. They go so far, he stated, as to organize boycott campaigns by recruiting and leading teams of anti-Israel radicals. Dershowitz then named several Tel Aviv University faculty, including some who were in Boston that same week attempting to organize a boycott against the Technion, Israel’s main engineering university,[26] for supposedly being a cog in the Israeli “war machine.”

Without naming names, Dershowitz heaped scorn on TAU professor Shlomo Sand for his recent book, The Invention of the Jewish People,[27] which claims that there is actually no such thing as a Jewish people. Dershowitz went on to denounce those who insist that freedom of speech belongs only to people who agree with them and assailed those at Israeli universities who harass students who dare to disagree with forced-fed ideology, comparing this behavior to teachers who sexually harass students. He insisted that students, too, are entitled to academic freedom, which includes the right to disagree with their professors.

While such a peroration would ignite controversy anywhere, it was downright incendiary at Tel Aviv University, arguably home to the greatest concentration of tenured leftists teaching in Israel.[28] While the audience repeatedly interrupted him with loud applause, faculty members reportedly squirmed in their seats.[29]

It did not take long for these academics to open fire in retaliation; within days, a group of TAU professors denounced Dershowitz and challenged his right to criticize them. Signatures for a petition were collected and published on a left-wing website. The petition essentially denied Dershowitz’s right to freedom of speech, despite the pretence of some signatories to the contrary, by deriding his charges against specific academics as “bordering on incitement that can pose a clear and present danger to these members of staff.”[30]

A quick look at the names on the petition illustrates the nature of the problem. Among the signatories claiming that Dershowitz’s words criticizing the anti-Israel camp reminded them of “the dark regimes” in human history were:

    Chaim Gans of TAU law school, who organized a petition demanding that Col. Pnina Baruch-Sharvit, head of the Israel Defense Forces international law division, be prevented from teaching a course in the school after her retirement from military service because her department (allegedly) legitimized strikes in which civilians were hurt or killed during Operation Cast Lead.[31]

    Gadi Algazi, a historian at TAU who, among other activities, led a march of Israeli Arabs supporting Hezbollah terror.[32]

    Uri Hadar, a psychology professor, who recently organized a conference at TAU to support Hamas and Hezbollah.[33]

    Daniel Bar-Tal, an educational psychologist, who produces anti-Jewish propaganda for the U.N. and believes Zionism is an obstacle to peace.[34]

Its worth reading the whole article.

October 18, 2011 | 4 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. Dershowitz is a fine lawyer who as a lawyer is prepared to defend villains as well as popular persons. That is his duty.

    What is not his duty is to fight for Israel – but he does it, day in, day out – and he is effective! I wish we had a dozen Dershowitzes.

  2. Dershowitz is an opportunistic slime who defended O.J. and spit in the Goldman’s faces. Citing him as if he’s some kind of authority on ANYTHING is morally repulsive.

    And that makes him different from those who defended Amanda Knox because…

  3. Dershowitz is an opportunistic slime who defended O.J. and spit in the Goldman’s faces. Citing him as if he’s some kind of authority on ANYTHING is morally repulsive.