Israel’s Tenured Extremists

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Administrators have also refused to speak out against anti-Israel rallies, misrepresented as academic conferences, which take place almost weekly on Israeli campuses. When Islamist cleric Sheik Ra’ed Salah spoke at the University of Haifa in June 2009, the university heads ordered that Jewish students be physically barred from entering the auditorium in which he spoke.[56] The cleric then called upon Arab students attending the lecture to become “martyrs.” The following year the University of Haifa barred the sheik from speaking, but Tel Aviv University responded by hosting him.[57]

Meanwhile the level of in-classroom anti-Israel indoctrination conducted in Israeli universities has been steadily growing. Crusading against Israel has become the chief scholarly credential of a growing number of tenured Israeli academics.[58] Rigid, anti-Israel uniformity and monolithic far-left consensus are to be found in many academic departments in Israeli universities, especially in the humanities, the softer social sciences, law, and education. There are some departments in which no Zionist or non-leftist is, in effect, permitted to teach. Perhaps the most notorious example of this was the 2005 firing of the single non-leftist in the politics department at Ben-Gurion University, despite his impressive record of academic and scholarly publications.

In many university departments in Israel, academic pluralism means that anti-Israel opinion is preached and taught by a diverse set of faculty members—leftist Jews, Arabs, men, and women, all holding the same opinions—but not pluralism of ideas and ideological outlooks. All Israeli universities strive to expand the presence of Arab and female faculty members in the name of diversity, using affirmative action preferences. Yet none of them see anything wrong with the existence of entire departments in which there is not a single religiously observant faculty member or someone with writings from the Right side of the political spectrum.[59]

The anti-Israel political activities of faculty often border on open support for treason. Dozens of tenured extremists[60] were active in celebrating Tali Fahima, an Israeli woman arrested for collaborating with terrorists and helping plan terror attacks.[61] Many openly identified with convicted nuclear spy and traitor Mordecai Vanunu,[62] or with the former Arab Knesset member Azmi Bishara, wanted for espionage and now in hiding outside Israel.[63]

In a few cases, Israeli faculty members who have defamed army officers and other public figures as war criminals have caused their targets to cancel study and travel plans outside Israel for fear of being prosecuted on the weight of these smears.[64] Some of the most openly anti-Semitic propaganda on the planet, including much produced by Neo-Nazis as well as open calls for the annihilation of Israel, is currently being disseminated via the ALEF List, an anti-Israel chat list operating under the auspices of the University of Haifa. Many of the worst anti-Semitic pronouncements disseminated by that list appear on the “ALEF WATCH” web site, run by Isracampus.[65] These include endorsements of terrorism, calls for Israel to be exterminated, and even Holocaust Denial.

This anti-Israel bias and the accompanying suppression of dissident, pro-Israel opinion has been the focus of several recent studies receiving wide attention in the media. These include a survey of syllabi in political science courses, collected by the Im Tirtzu student organization,[66] and a similar report on sociology departments prepared by the Institute for Zionist Strategies.[67] Both studies claim to detect extreme bias and one-sided indoctrination in departmental courses, including mandatory courses.

Change in the Air?

The biggest change that has occurred since the 2001 Socrates article is that the Israeli public now is aware of tenured extremism. Public figures, members of the parliament, journalists, students, alumni, donors, and other academics are speaking up courageously, criticizing anti-Israel academics, challenging the hegemony of the far Left over Israel’s four main liberal arts universities. There have been proposals in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to require disclosure of sources of funding for radical, anti-Israel nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).[68] Israeli radical academics are active in all such groups. There have also been proposals for a law that would deny citizenship to those refusing to declare loyalty to Israel or who engage in extremist anti-Israel activities.[69] A number of Knesset members and other political leaders in Israel have repeatedly spoken out against the political activities of radical academics, including in NGOs, among them Danny Danon, Gideon Sa’ar (the Israeli minister of education), Alex Miller, and Michael Ben-Ari.[70] Sa’ar held special Knesset committee hearings on the seditious activities of faculty and political biases in Israeli universities.[71]

The Knesset has considered bills directed against Israeli academics who issue calls for anti-Israel boycotts[72] and probing human rights NGOs involved in anti-Israel propaganda activities.[73] Other public figures, such as the mayor of the town of Omer in which many faculty members of Ben-Gurion University reside, have called for sanctions against universities that refuse to act against tenured radicals.[74]

One sign of how far things have been transformed is the widespread willingness today to criticize Israel’s tenured foes by name in all of the Israeli mainstream media, with the daily Ma’ariv the most aggressive. The most consistent and effective critics of the anti-Israel radicals have been Ben-Dror Yemini[75] and Kalman Liebskind,[76] both at Ma’ariv. Watchdog web sites have arisen that monitor and document the anti-Israel activities of Israeli faculty members. The main such group is IsraCampus, operating as a sort of Israeli cousin to the Middle East Forum’s Campus Watch. Other groups and websites also follow the anti-Israel political activities of academics, including NGO Monitor headed by Gerald M. Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University.

But perhaps the most dramatic change on Israeli campus has been the emergence over the past few years of a radical, patriotic, Zionist student movement. Until three or four years ago, it was unusual to see Israeli university students take to the barricades except over the price of tuition or cafeteria food. The Arab student unions would regularly hold small anti-Israel protests and political activities, but Jewish students were rarely involved in campus political expression.  Thanks to the Im Tirtzu movement, all that has changed. Largely the initiative of two eloquent and prolific Hebrew University students, Ronen Shoval and Erez Tadmor, Im Tirtzu is the dominant student ideological movement today on most Israeli campuses.[77]

The term Im Tirtzu, means, “If you will it,” and it is part of a longer mantra originally coined by Theodore Herzl as part of his proposal for creation of a Jewish state. The Im Tirtzu student movement has emerged as the most effective and vocal force drawing public attention to the abuses stemming from campus politicization.[78] Im Tirtu leaders have testified in the Knesset, write frequently in the media, and the movement regularly organizes counter-protests with Israeli flags and patriotic slogans in response to every anti-Israel demonstration organized by Arab and Jewish leftist students. Its members wear T-shirts to class with images of Herzl and Jabotinsky. It has called for pressure on Israeli universities, especially Ben-Gurion University,[79] to force campus officials to act against classroom politicization, and it has threatened to file Supreme Court petitions to achieve this.

Left-wing academics increasingly complain about Im Tirtzu students cataloguing information about political bias, gleaned from course descriptions and syllabi. The group’s leaders have highlighted the fact that students from the center and right of the Israeli spectrum experience harassment from left-wing faculty.[80] In one infamous incident, a student at Ben-Gurion University, Rachel Abraham, was threatened with penalties and a lowered grade by the anti-Zionist geography professor Oren Yiftachel if she refused to toe his ideological line.[81] Other harassment of student Zionists is even worse. In one famous incident, leftist students at Ben-Gurion University were photographed giving Heil Hitler Nazi salutes to pro-Zionist students at a campus rally following the Turkish flotilla raid[82] while Hebrew University students used the Nazi salute during student council electioneering.[83]

The Israeli taxpaying public is losing patience with radical anti-Israel academics and demanding accountability from the universities regarding the use and misuse of taxpayer funds. Indeed, the awakening of public awareness in Israel (and outside it) over the past decade has been breathtaking. Internet web searches about the subject yield thousands of articles on numerous websites, both inside and outside of Israel, leading many leftist professors increasingly to complain about being “spied upon.”[84] Other radicals are exercising greater caution and circumspection as a result. Still others complain about a sharp drop in the willingness on the part of their fellow travelers in the anti-Israel camp to engage in open incitement against Israel, or to sign their names to openly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic petitions. While difficult to prove numerically, far-leftist academics now seem to perceive and complain more about the reluctance of their colleagues to go public these days with anti-Israel statements and actions.

Still the battle rages on. Depoliticizing the Israeli campus is yet a far-off dream. But as anger grows against Israel’s tenured extremists, change is in the air.

Steven Plaut teaches at the Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Haifa.


[1] Solomon Socrates, “Israel’s Academic Extremists,” Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2001, pp. 5-14.

[2] See, for example, Efraim Karsh, “Benny Morris and the Reign of Error, Revisited,” Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2005, pp. 31-42; idem, “Revisiting Israel’s ‘Original Sin,’” Commentary, Sept. 2003, pp. 46-50.

[3] The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 7, 2010.

[4] Makor Rishon, June 24, 2011.

[5] Ilan Gur-Ze’ev, The Possibility/Impossibility of a New Critical Language in Education (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2010).

[6] Avraham Oz,  “Urgent warning: The Israeli government may be contemplating crimes against humanity,“ LabourNet.UK, Sept. 24, 2002.

[7]Anti-Israel Petitions Signed by Israeli Academics,” IsraCampus (Haifa), accessed May 27, 2011.

[8] Israel Academic Monitor (Even Yehuda), Sept. 9, 2005.

[9]PSP Supports Kobi Snitz, an Israeli Activist Beginning Short Prison Term for Anti-Occupation Activity,” International Campaign of Solidarity with the Palestinian Prisoners, Sept. 21, 2009.

[13]Jewish supporters of Refugee Rights Including the Palestinian Right of Return,” The Middle East Crisis Committee, Woodbridge, Conn., Nov. 8, 2003.

[14]Anti-Israel Petitions Signed by Israeli Academics,” IsraCampus, July 12, 2004.

[15] See, for example, “Join the One-State Initiative,” Palestine Justice Network, Apr. 23, 2011.

[16] See for example, “Where Truth Is Destiny,” Zundelsite, Oct. 27, 2000.

[17] The Tehran Times, Apr. 6, 2009.

[18] Neve Gordon, “Cloud-after-Auschwitz,” The Nation, Nov. 13, 2000.

[19]Shraga Elam and David Irving,” Paul Bogdanor website, Mar. 13, 2003.

[20] The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 31, 2008.

[21] Seth J. Frantzman, “The Israeli Academy and the Gaza War, IsraCampus, Mar. 2009.

[22] Gary Katz, “The Case of Nurit Peled-Elhanan,” IsraCampus, Jan. 6, 2008.

[23] Shlomo Sharan, “Our Inner Scourge: The Catastrophe of Israel Academic,” The Ariel Center for Policy Research (ACPR, Shaarei Tikva), Sept. 2007.   See also Arnon Soffer, “In the Trap of Academic Radicalism,”  University of Haifa,

(Hebrew) , 123 pages.

[24] Ran HaCohen, “A Case for Hizbullah?“ (Palo Alto, Calif.), Aug. 13, 2003.

[25]Full Text of Alan Dershowitz’s Tel Aviv Speech,” Ha’aretz (Tel Aviv), May, 12, 2010.

[27] New York and London: Verso, 2010.

[28] Shlomo Sharan, “Our Inner Scourge: The Catastrophe of Israel Academic,” The Ariel Center for Policy Research (ACPR, Shaarei Tikva), Sept. 2007.

[29] For a webcast of the lecture, see “Opening Night, May 7,” Tel Aviv University, May 7, 2010.

[31] Ha’aretz, May 21, 2011.

[32] Ynet News (Tel Aviv), Mar. 31, 2010.

[33] Ben-Dror Yemini, “Incitement at Tel Aviv University or ‘Voices from Gaza’?Ma’ariv (Tel Aviv), Apr. 15, 2010.

[34] Alon Ben Shaul, “It’s the Zionists, Stupid,” IsraCampus, accessed May 27, 2011.

[35] See, for example, David Newman, “Bashing the Academic Left,” The Jerusalem Post, Apr. 14, 2011; “Ben-Gurion University-David Newman,” IsraCampus,  Apr. 24, 2009.

[36] Gerald Steinberg, “Right of Reply: Israel’s Academic Left on the Attack,” The Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2010.

[37] The Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2010.

[38] See Benjamin Pogrund, “The Guardians of Israeli Academia,” Ha’aretz, Oct. 23, 2009; Nitza Berkovitch, “ McCarthyism in Tel Aviv,” YNet News, Aug 17, 2010.

[39] YNet News, July 4, 2010.

[42] YNet News, Nov. 6, 2006; Israel Academia Monitor, Apr. 23, 2006.

[43] [.

[44] Epoch Times (New York), Mar. 8, 2008.

[45] The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 1, 2011 01/09/2011.

[47] Rivka Carmi, “Universities Are in the Footnotes,” The Jerusalem Post, May, 28, 2011; Ha’aretz, Sept. 15, 2010. A SLAPP is an anti-democratic lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by forcing them to bear costs involved in a legal defense.  Its use by one academic against another would be regarded as an anti-democratic harassment tactic in any democratic regime.

[48] Jacob Benshimon, “In-Classroom Indoctrination at the University of Michigan,” FrontPage Magazine, Apr. 29, 2008; Israel Academia Monitor, accessed June 7, 2011.

[49] Steven Plaut, “The Leftwing McCarthyism of Prof. Itzhak Galnoor,” IsraCampus, Oct. 13, 2009; Examples of post-Zionist domination of that list (in Hebrew) : and

[50] Itzhak Galnoor, “Academic Freedom under Political Duress: Israel,” Social Research, Summer 2009, pp. 541-60.

[51] Rivka Carmi, “Universities Are in the Footnotes,” The Jerusalem Post, May, 28, 2011; Ha’aretz, Sept. 15, 2010.

[53] Ha’aretz, Nov. 9, 2009.

[54] Dan Illouz, “True Academic Freedom in Israel,” Arutz Sheva (Beit El and Petah Tikva), July 23, 2010.

[55] Ha’aretz, Aug. 19, 2010. For negative responses, see The New Centrist, Feb. 7, 2010; “Israel’s Drift toward Fascism—More on Im Tirtzu,” Jews for Justice for Palestinians (London), Sept. 21, 2010; “When Zionism Is Portrayed at Fascism,” Dan Illouz website, Apr. 6, 2010.

[56] Canada Free Press, June 19, 2009.

[57] YNet News (Tel Aviv), June 24, 2009; ibid., May 24, 2011.

[58] Benshimon, “In-Classroom Indoctrination at the University of Michigan,” FrontPage Magazine, Apr. 29, 2008.

[59] Ha’aretz, Aug. 19, 2010.

[60] Free Tali Fahima petition, Oct. 4, 2004.

[61] YNet News, June 8, 2010.

[62] Mordechai Vanunu petition, accessed June 8, 2011.

[63] Here is a petition supporting Bishara signed by Israeli academics: List of its signers is here: , May 3, 2007

[64] The Yesh Gvul and other anti-Israel groups used the materials provided to them by Israeli academics.  The most notorious is Neve Gordon’s smear of Kohavi.  By the way, the anti-Israel groups in the UK that were behind the attempts at prosecution are also led by “Israeli academics,” including Machover.  See and The material on Gordon and Kohavi is all by me.,7340,L-3221339,00.html Feb 27, 2006 and,7340,L-3140750,00.html Sept 11, 2005

[65] ALEF Watch, IsraCampus, accessed June 8, 2011.

[66] Ha’aretz, Aug.17, 2010.

[67]Post-Zionism in the Academy,” Institute for Zionist Strategies, Jerusalem, accessed June 1, 2011.

[69] Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Oct. 12, 2010; YNet News, Feb. 14, 2011.

[70] YNet News, Jan. 5, 2011.

[71] YNet News, Nov. 2, 2010.

[72] The Guardian (London), Jan. 5, 2011; Joseph Dana, “Will It Soon Be Illegal for Israelis to Support BDS?+972 website, Feb. 15, 2011.

[73] Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Jan. 12, 2011.

[74] NRG website (Ma’ariv), June 2, 2011.

[75] Ben-Dror Yemini, “Academic Brainwashing,” Ma’ariv, IsraCampus trans., Aug. 20, 2010.

[76] Arutz Sheva, Jan. 11, 2011.

[78] The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 18, 2010.

[79] Ha’aretz, Aug. 18, 2010.

[81] Dan Illouz, “True Aacademic Freedon in Israel,” Arutz Sheva,  July 23, 2010; RACHEL AVRAHAM, “Studying under Dr. Oren Yiftachel,” Israel Academia Monitor, accessed June 8, 2011.

[82] Haim Misgav, “Freedom to Give Nazi Salute,” YNet News, Aug. 19, 2010.

[83] Arutz Sheva, June 9, 2009.

[84] Lincoln Z. Shlensky, “Neve Gordon: Assault on Academic Freedom,” Jewish Peace News, Sept. 1, 2010; Neve Gordon, “Struggling over the Right to Struggle—An Assault on Israeli Academic Freedom and Liberal Values,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 26,  2010, and Occupation Magazine, Aug. 30, 2010.

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  • SHmuelHaLevi

    A finely researched article pointing to a extremely dangerous setting brought about by complacency with mortal enemeeis of our society composed by a mix of unJewish elements, foreign financed infiltrators, extreme left wing gangs, anarchists and simply traitors.
    That crave assafsuff, (mob), use the services of brutal forces and those they inserted into a totally devoid of representation courtiers array.
    It must be addressed as they pose a mortal danger to all of us.
    Both here and in the US as well.

  • Robert

    The true tenured extremists in Israel are the religious fantic settlers. Google "Israeli settlers" to see these violent fanatics in action. They believe that they are a master race and that non-Jews are sub-human. They use "price tag" attacks to hold the government hostage. A "price tag" attack is one where if the goverment does anything the settlers don't like they attack innocent Palestinians or their interests instead of the government. They are never arrested even if they murder Palestinians and of course the government continues to approve more and more settlements on Palestinian land.

    • jaberbee

      Robert is a Neo-Nutsy horse's patoot

      • Robert

        My you keep this forum going with your brilliant comment.

    • john

      troll alert. Seems that the islamic sites and neo-nazi sites are not any fun anymore. awww… innocent Palestinians… nice chuckle from that statement

      • Robert

        There are no innocent Palestinians? Than there are no innocent Israelis. Google "Israeli settlers" to meet the neighbors from hell.

  • MikeInBrixton

    I cannot deal with all the half truths and distortions in this piece but will concentrate on one I know about

    “In June 2011 [Morris] was physically attacked by anti-Israel activists while on his way to lecture in the London School of Economics.”

    Benny Morris has never claimed he was physically attacked; he has claimed he was harassed and felt intimidated. Those who berated him about his anti-Arab racism fiercely contest his version of events.

    • potb

      Then go back to the source were Steven Plaut got it from. Or else: shut up.

  • Chezwick_mac

    Great article…and anyone who is familiar with David's work knows the problem certainly isn't confined to Israel. In 'Hating Whitey', David eloquently explains the objective of leftist faculty in America and their obsession with demonizing their own country. The goal, writes David, is "[to detach our future elite from love of country]".

    So, why are leftist so over-represented in Academe? It's mostly institutional. Hiring is done by faculty themselves…and where once upon a time when conservatives were a majority on campus, they deliberately sought intellectual diversity by hiring leftists, the left is a monoculture where no diversity is permissible. Once leftist faculty became a majority, they shut the door on conservatives.

    Additionally, the whole concept of tenure is a medieval phenomenon that undermines accountability. In no other profession is one guaranteed lifetime employment.

    Ultimately, I think the problem rests with the myopia of the intellectual. What is it about the egg-head that he/she can so artfully turn logic and rationality on its head?

  • Chezwick_mac

    Folks, click on the link and go to 3:46. From 3:46 to 7:17 (3 1/2 minutes), you'll witness an extremely disturbing real-life example of persecution of conservative faculty in our universities. Prof. Freeburg was stripped of her position as head of the science dept at Cal Poly, was relentlessly hounded, had her office repeatedly moved and her schedule repeatedly changed. And why? Because faculty and administration found out she was a Republican and wanted to "compel" her resignation.

    And the most disturbing aspect of it all is when Prof. Freeberg explains why her STUDENTS knew she was a conservative (THEY had no problem with it). She NEVER expressed her political views in class…and that was just it; her students were so used to every other professor using class time to pontificate political opinions, they instinctively guessed she must be conservative.

  • StephenD

    This article points to a truly disturbing fact of life. Sometimes the most dangerous claws are those covered in velvet. The knife wielded by your brother cuts deeper than that of your warrior enemy.

  • Sam K

    End the illegal Arab occupation of Israeli lands! Remove the Syrian and Jordanian control over Israel's unoccupied territories!

    • ziontruth

      Hear, hear!

  • Flipside

    Steven Plaut endorsed the killing of Rachel Corrie here on FPM. It follows that he endorses the killing of myself and any other American “reckless” enough to challenge Zionist racism and battlefield construction. It is refreshing to know that Israelis themselves have a crisis of conscience in their activities. Still, I speak out against this Jewish fascist who would gladly lie and cheerlead the deaths of Palestinians, Jews, and Americans. I wish him the worst of luck in his support of masked, anonymous creeps in the Israeli college system who persecute fellow Israelis while claiming it is they who are forced into hiding.

    • UCSPanther

      Rachel Corrie deserves a Darwin award, and you speak out in favor of terrorists who are essentially yelling "six million more!"

    • DanKelso

      Have you not seen the Palestinian media, where Abbas is glorifying and naming streets after terrorists who murder Israeli civilians.
      These are the sickos you support.
      Palmediawatch has documented everything.

  • Raymond in DC

    "At the two scientific-engineering institutions, the Technion and the Weizmann Institute, there are small numbers of faculty involved in such political activity but they are a minor presence, and this is also true of the religious university, Bar-Ilan."

    I've given to Weizmann in the past, and actively support the Technion today – not just because they do such impressive work but because that work and their reputations aren't undermined by the activities of the hard-left crowd.

    And that's unfortunate for Hebrew U, Tel Aviv U and BGU. All do fine, even extraordinary, work in the sciences and technology. But money is fungible, and I don't want to legitimize the leftist crap going on elsewhere on those campuses. Personally, I'd like to see tenure dropped, replaced by work contracts. There's no reason for tenure in this day and age. Absent that protection, there's more of a chance these characters could be eventually dismissed. At the least they might learn to restrain themselves.

  • Dr Dave

    Thanks for posting this. You should see what happens here at NYU’s Middle East Dept. . There are “proctors” present who essentially shut down any discussion outside the ideologically correct propaganda being passed off as “education”. It more resembles a communist re-education camp. in some classes the name “Israel” is prohibited and must be substituted with “Zionist Entity”. This is a paid university with thousands of Jewish Alumni & contributors.

  • mlcblog

    Very informative. I had no idea. Thank you.

  • Al Best

    Title should be: Treason Is Free Speech?

  • DanKelso

    Jackie Mason did a great video on Youtube called Israel's Worst Enemy? Liberal Jews!
    This is a must see.

  • DanKelso

    The 1 state solution was tried by a Kurd named Saladin. Saladin won the wars but opposed a state for his people the Kurds, cause he wanted a 1 state solution with the Arabs, Turks and Iranians. How did that work out for the Kurds?

  • DanKelso

    There is a play written by a Kurdish writer called “The Trial of Saladin.” In it Saladin is brought back from death to appear in a Kurdish court. Realising what the Arabs, Turks and Persians did to his people, he apologises to the Kurdish nation and commits suicide knowing he was responsible for all the Kurdish suffering by opposing a Kurdish state.
    I guess you can say the 1 state solution didn't turn out to good for the Kurds?
    Are you listening left wing Jews?

  • flipside

    I am a pathetic little nazi who hates dem joos because my pecker is so tiny!


    • Flipside

      I think it’s weird and disturbing that James Biga is speculating about my genitalia. Don’t you have a blog to write?

  • David

    Any person creating incitement against the Jews and Jewish state should be brought to justice and criminal charges be filed against them regardless of their post. These neo=Fascist, self-hating Jews are, trying to bring the Holocaust on Israel and deserve nothing but imprisonment and heavy fines to cease and desist from their treacherous activities.