Tel Aviv University professors vs. Alan Dershowitz

To Professor Joseph Klafter, President of Tel Aviv University

Dear Professor Klafter,

We the undersigned, are members of the General History Dept at Tel Aviv University, heard in full the speech of Mr. Alan Dershowitz in the name of the Honorary Doctorate recipients as broadcasted live on video.

As Historians who know very well the periods of the past where the  enlightened democracy declined into a dark regime, we are very concerned with some of the things said. Mr. Dershowitz viciously attacked academic members of the university criticizing the policy of the government, he specifically named some members of staff and accused them for leading narrow-minded thinking as they impose their opinions on students (and he compared it to sexual harassment).

As you know there is no single proof that member of staff imposed his/her political opinions on students.

Mr. Dershowitz is allowed, of course, to enjoy the freedom of speech and to express his opinions, but the fact he named lecturers and accused them of hurting students and of hurting the strength of the State of Israel – These words are on the verge of defamation and may put those members of staff at risk.

We ask you, as the university administration to renounce the words of Mr. Dershowitz and to announce it will continue to protect the freedom of speech of all members of our academic community in any way. As you wrote in your article in the Jerusalem Post in 15th of February 2010 – The university must protect the freedom of thinking and freedom of expression of members of staff and students.

Bad winds blow these days in Israel and in the West in general, which are anti-Intellectual and anti-Democratic. The universities are – as you said – the beacons protecting from them. Negation of some views or others and the attack on those expressing them, from the podium of the university destabilize such protective walls.

Watch Dershowitz´s speech here

Also read…
Pro-Peace IS Pro-Israel

We are sure you will find a way for the university administration to renounce those words of Mr. Alan Dershowitz.
TAU professors denounce Dershowitz for speech against left
Academics hit back after U.S. commentator slams university staff for backing boycotts against Israel.

BOYCOTT ISRAHELL: Israeli Academics Must Pay a Price to End Occupation

Several days ago Dr. Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev published an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times and CounterPunch. In that article he explained why, after years of activity in the peace camp here, he has decided to pin his hopes on applying external pressure on Israel – including sanctions, divestment and an economic, cultural and academic boycott.

He believes, and so do I, that only when the Israeli society’s well-heeled strata pay a real price for the continuous occupation will they finally take genuine steps to put an end to it.

Gordon looks at the Israeli society and sees an apartheid state. While the Palestinians’ living conditions deteriorate, many Israelis are benefiting from the occupation. In between the two sides, Israeli society is sinking into complete denial – drawn into extreme hatred and violence.

The academic community has an important role to play in this process. Yet, instead of sounding the alarm, it wakes up only when someone dares approach the international community and desperately call for help.

The worn-out slogan that everybody raises in this context is “academic freedom,” but it is time to somewhat crack this myth.

The appeal to academic freedom was born during the Enlightenment, when ruling powers tried to suppress independent minded thinkers. Already then, more than 200 years ago, Imannuel Kant differentiated between academics whose expertise (law, theology, and medicine) served the establishment and those who had neither power nor proximity to power. As for the first, he said, there was no sense in talking about “freedom” or “independent thought” as any use of such terminology is cynical.

Since then, cynicism has spread to other faculties as well. At best academic freedom was perceived as the right not to ask troubling questions. At worst was the right to harass whomever asked too much.

When the flag of academic freedom is raised, the oppressor and not the oppressed is usually the one who flies it. What is that academic freedom that so interests the academic community in Israel? When, for example, has it shown concern for the state of academic freedom in the occupied territories?

This school year in Gaza will open in shattered classrooms as there are no building materials there for rehabilitating the ruins; without notebooks, books and writing utensils that cannot be brought into Gaza because of the goods embargo (yes, Israel may boycott schools there and no cry is heard).

Hundreds of students in West Bank universities are under arrest or detention in Israeli jails, usually because they belong to student organizations that the ruling power does not like.

The separation fence and the barriers prevent students and lecturers from reaching classes, libraries and tests. Attending conferences abroad is almost unthinkable and the entry of experts who bear foreign passports is permitted only sparingly.

On the other hand, members of the Israeli academia staunchly guard their right to research what the regime expects them to research and appoint former army officers to university positions. Tel Aviv University alone prides itself over the fact that the Defense Ministry is funding 55 of its research projects and that DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the U.S. Defense Department, is funding nine more. All the universities offer special study programs for the defense establishment.

Are those programs met with any protest? In contrast with the accepted impression, only few lecturers speak up decisively against the occupation, its effect and the increasingly bestial nature of the State of Israel.

The vast majority retains its freedom to be indifferent, up to the moment that someone begs the international community for rescue. Then the voices rise from right and left, the indifference disappears, and violence replaces it: Boycott Israeli universities? This strikes at the holy of holies, academic freedom!

Ref: Counterpunch

NAKBA DAY … “THEY KILLED ANYONE THEY SAW” + “Happy Nakba Day!”

OCCUPIED WEST BANK — Mohammed al-Saghir Abu Sharar was 37 when the Hagana and other Jewish terrorist gangs attacked al-Dawayema, a village located 18 kilometers northwest of Al-Khalil (Hebron) in 1948.

“When they came they started killing the civilian population en mass, men, women and children,” recalls Mohammed, now nearly 100-year-old.

“They killed anyone they saw. They broke the heads of children and cut open the bellies of women with bayonets. They even raped some women before murdering them.”
Mohammed said one of the bloodiest chapters of that day took place in the mosque.

“It was Friday and many elderly people had already gone to the local mosque for the congregational prayer,” he remembers.

“About two hours before the prayers, around 10:00 or 10:30 a.m., a number of vehicles carrying gunmen arrived. They sprayed everyone with bullets, killing all the 75 elderly people. Not a single one survived,” he added with tears in his eyes.

“They then started going into the houses, killing entire families. The killings forced people to flee eastward. However, the Hagana men pursued the fleeing civilians, killing more people.”

In his book “All That Remains,” Walid al-Khalid, a Palestinian historian of impeccable credentials, wrote that al-Dawayema had a population of 3710 in 1945.

The world marks on May 15 the “Nakba Day,” when Israel was created on the rubble of their country.

On April 18, 1948, Palestinian Tiberius was captured by Menachem Begin’s Irgun militant group, putting its 5,500 Palestinian residents in flight. On April 22, Haifa fell to the Zionist militants and 70,000 Palestinians fled.

On April 25, Irgun began bombarding civilian sectors of Jaffa, terrifying the 750,000 inhabitants into panicky flight.

On May 14, the day before the creation of Israel, Jaffa completely surrendered to the much better-equipped Zionist militants and only about 4,500 of its population remained.

No Shelter

Mohammed, who now lives with his family at the small village of al-Majd, about 7 kilometers southwest of al-Dawayema, says dozens of families had sought shelter at a big cave called “Turel Zagh”.

“The Jews told them to come out and get into a row and start to walk. And when they started walking, they sprayed them with machinegun fire from two sides,” he adds.

“One woman, the wife of Mir’ie Freih, survived the massacre by pretending to be dead.”

Mohammed said the victims of the massacre were later buried inside the Bir al-Sahra and Bir al-Sil wells.

His testimony was corroborated by Israeli historians and researchers relying on the de-classified archives of the Israeli army and interviews with veteran soldiers.

Happy Nakba Day!

Israeli historian Benny Morris had interviewed a participant in the massacre who told him that about 80 to 100 people, including women and children, were killed by “the first wave of conquerors.”

In 1984, an Israeli journalist interviewed the former Mukhtar (village notable) of al-Dawayema, Hasan Mahmoud Ihdeib, and took him back to the site for the first time since the massacre.

Ihdeib told him about the people killed in the mosque and the families
slaughtered at the cave, showing him the cistern where the bodies had been buried.

A few days later, the Israeli journalist brought workers who dug and discovered bones and skulls.

In 1955, the Jewish settlement of Amatzya was built on the ruins of al-Dawayema.

Aharon Zisling, Israel’s first agriculture minister, had likened the massacre, codenamed “Operation Yo’av”, to Nazi crimes.

Living Memory

A few years ago, Mohammed and his family visited the ruinous cite of his village where his father, mother, grandfather and their ancestors are buried.

“I stood their crying. I saw our home, badly dilapidated. I saw the chamber where my father used to receive guests. I saw the abandoned wells of water.”

The century-old Palestinian still hopes he would be allowed to live in his old home village.

“My wish has remained unchanged, it is to return to my village, to die and be buried there.”

Asked further if he would accept compensation for his lost property, he lapsed into a moment of silence before answering.

“It is not a matter of property and compensation,” he said.

“This is my country, my history, my home, my childhood memories. My forefathers and foremothers are buried there. Would you trade the grave of your father for all the money in the world?”

Ref: Islamonline

Many Israeli Jews celebrated Israeli Independence Day (according the Hebrew calendar) not long ago. Many more Israeli Jews had fun a couple of weeks later, on Lag B’Omer, while thousands of Israel’s Arab citizens decried the “Nakba” (The Catastrophe), namely the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 (according to the general calendar) with a day of mourning among Israel’s Arab community. That says everything…

So while the Jews were happy and dancing, first on Independence Day, then on the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi’s death (over 300,000 near his grave in Meron alone), the Arabs were crying over the tragedies that befell them. Isn’t that just the way it should be?

Well, Happy Nakba Day!

For example in Lod, a Jewish city with Arabs living there, over 1,500 Arabs attended a “Nakba Day” rally. So did some Arab Knesset members, such as Azmi Bishara. “This is a day of mourning for the Palestinian people,” MK Jamal Zahalka said. “Lod is a special place for us, because it is here that the massacre [?] of 1948 took place at the Great Mosque, and that is why the city has become a symbol for us. Our message is that we will never forget and never forgive for what happened. We have come here to say that the Arab population will remain in Lod forever.”

Several major attacks by Arab forces occurred in the Lod area during Israel’s War of Independence. Lod and Ramle were counter-attacked by the IDF because they were on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road and convoys attempting to resupply and reinforce Jerusalem had to travel through the streets of the two towns, routinely under fire. The IDF could not afford to allow Jerusalem to be cut off from the rest of the country.

Yitzhak Rabin, then a commander involved in the operation, later said he agreed with Ben-Gurion’s order to expel the Arabs of Ramle and Lod. The Arabs in Lod were “armed and hostile,” Rabin said, presenting a danger, and they had to be driven away. Fighting with Arab gunmen took place, but no massacre occurred, the enemy during wartime was dealt a heavy blow.

Lod is a town where till this day; the Arab population has been consistently harassing the Jewish population. See my article, “The Jewish Struggle Against Arabs in Israel”.

“This is our memorial day,” National Democratic Assembly member Gabi Tanus said in Lod. “It is more important to us than the Holocaust is to the Jewish nation.”

Notice the Arabs suffered more than the Jews did from the Holocaust…

Happy Nakba day!

Lag B’Omer by the way, also marks the end of a period of deaths, of thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students. Tradition tells us that 24,000 died during a plague. Rabbi Akiva was an arms smuggler during Bar Kochba’s revolt against the Roman occupation of Judea (according to Maimonides). Others surmise, they died in the battles to liberate Judea from the Roman occupation. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi (one of Rabbi Akiva’s top students), was forced to flee for his life and hide in a cave. There, he and his son studied Torah night and day for 13 years, till the “secrets of creation” were revealed to him. His teachings were later written down as “The Zohar,” the Book of Splendor, the “Bible” of Jewish Mysticism.

So just as the Jews of Judea fought and gained independence from the “super-power of their time” the Roman Empire, for 3 and a half years, Modern Israel finally gained independence, over 1,800 years later.

And the Arabs? They sit and weep, just as Jews did for those intervening 1,800 years. The only difference is that the Arabs are a recent settler population, who came to the Land of Israel only in the last hundred years or so, and have no real connection to this place, in spite of their weeping (and terrorism).

Notice they are not mourning the loss of the 1967 territories, but all of “Palestine”. Coming up in a little over a week is Jerusalem Day. Jews the world over will celebrate the liberation of Eastern Jerusalem, with it’s Temple Mount and Western Wall. Hebron, Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights were all delivered out of the hands of the Arab occupiers and into the hands of their rightful Jewish owners.

Israeli Arabs were never a happy bunch even though they have full civil equality. But in recent years, there has been growing active involvement from their community with “Palestinian” terrorists from the Palestinian Authority. Combined with their recent (since Oslo) vocal repudiation of Israeli Independence Day as their “Catastrophe;” it has been proven to many Israeli Jews, what they always suspected, Israeli Arabs are not trustworthy.

According to the Israel Democracy Institute’s recent study, the “2006 Democracy Index,” only 14% feel that relations between Jews and Arabs are good in Israel and 62% of Israelis would like to see the government actively encourage Arabs to leave Israel through financial incentives (the poll includes Israeli Arabs, so the figure for Israeli Jews must be even higher).

Professor Asher Arian (who conducted the survey), said he was not surprised by the support expressed for encouraging the Arabs to leave. “This has been a stable sentiment in the Israeli Jewish public for many years,” he said. “The public is both cynical and very Zionist.” He pointed out that if the survey were carried out right after a terrorist attack, the numbers would have been even higher in support of encouraging Arabs to leave.

The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research of Tel Aviv University, found in their latest, “Peace Index: March 2006” (conducted on April 3-4, 2006, after the Israeli elections), a clear majority of Jews are against expelling more Jewish “settlers” from their homes. When questioned whether Israel should act unilaterally to set its final borders (Olmert’s Convergence/Expulsion Plan) or continue the existing situation (leave the
Jewish settlements alone) and wait until conditions are ripe for renewing contacts with the PA, 44% said they were for maintaining the status quo, whereas only 41% favored acting unilaterally to expel Jews from their homes. Don’t forget this poll too included about 20% Arab respondents.

Maybe Israel will one day soon decide to solve its “Arab security and demographic problem” the way most Jews in Israel would like it to, not by expelling Jews from parts of their ancestral homeland but by removing “the thorns in our side,” (Numbers 33:55).

Then Israel’s “good Arab citizens,” freed from their burdensome host, would have a real cause for celebration, as would the rest of us.

Ref: Israelinsider
Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of israelinsider.