Academic Bolshevism in Israel

acThe following is a translation by Steven Plaut of excerpts from Maariv editor Ben Dror Yemini’s recent column:

In a certain Israeli university department, a seminar included the presentation of “field research” on the subject of Israeli colonialism under the occupation.  The seminar was conducted by a professor who is active in the BALAD (Arab fascist — SP) party and his two course assistants were radical leftist activists.  The “field research” for the course was funded by radical leftist organizations.

In a different school a book was published containing articles about the Israeli control of the occupied territories.  Every single chapter, with no exceptions, was written by radical leftists.  In a different school of social sciences, 10 out of the 11 members of the faculty are radical leftists.  In the past and following complaints from students, we exposed the fact [in Maariv] that a “law clinic” is being operated by the University of Haifa that is an extension and subsidiary of the [radical Arab nationalist, anti-Israel — SP] ADALAH organization.  This is the same department that in the past cancelled the singing of the national anthem at graduation ceremonies.  All the above is just a very small sample.  New findings indicate that the problem is worsening.

What is interesting and fascinating is the automatic Pavlovian reaction of all the spokespersons and officials — that it is all just academic freedom.  [… ] Yes of course having a marketplace for competing ideas is essential.  The problem is that the competition of ideas is disappearing.  In many a department in the social sciences, there exists hegemony by anti-Zionist and post-Zionist ideology.

In a certain academic journal recently an article written by a professor who is a member of MERETZ was rejected because it carried some Zionist content.  In other journals, articles that do not toe the line and sing the anti-Zionist tune are rejected by an editor who is part of the anti-Zionist choir.  The university heads, who are not part of this trend, are living in denial. [… ] The result is the liquidation of academic freedom.

In Israeli academia, anyone who is not a member of the bolshevik horde has difficulties finding positions and getting in, and his articles will not get published, or he will simply be treated as an outcast.  So the problem here is not heterodox ideas and opinions, or even the university law clinic that functions as an extension of a radical political organization.  The problem is quite simply that Israel is losing its academic freedom, which is being replaced by academic bolshevism.  Because there is not the slightest chance in hell that any university will ever open a law clinic that is under the control of some radical rightwing organization, and it is good that this is so.  But every case of “collaboration” is always in a single direction, that with radical leftist organizations.

It is quite possible that the “Im Tirtzu” student group is, as the university chiefs claim, interested in provocations.  Fine — let the university chiefs prove that their charges are false.  Come show us cases of collaboration between university units and NGOs that are not from the radical left, similar to the collaboration between the University of Haifa Law School and ADALAH.  To demonstrate for us the pluralism that is flowering. But the universities have nothing to say in their defense besides charges of “provocations” and “McCarthyism.”  There is something very, very alarming going on in Israeli academia and it is nothing less than the suppression of academic freedom.

It was only last year that the bolshevik campaign succeeded in stifling criticism of the Department of Politics at Ben Gurion University.  And it does not matter who is expressing the criticism.  It is not only in response to criticism from right-wing NGOs that the kneejerk reactions proliferate.  It was exactly the same reaction when the critics were a panel of international experts.  In fact it is the same reaction heard when even professors from the sane moderate Left speak out.


The problem is that all these activities and “collaborations” with NGOs always are in a single direction with a single ideology.  The problem is the absence from the university course syllabi of publications that do not toe the ideological line of the leftist choir.  The problem is that students feel intimidated and stifled.  This is not academic freedom but rather its diametrical opposite.

[Yemini ends the column with a quote he heard from a man who recently served as the head of an Israeli university and admitted to him that the radical Left is exercising hegemony over Israeli academic institutions.  Yemini says that they all know this is true.]

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  • Carlos_Perera

    Apparently, Israeli universities–except insofar as the main language of instruction is concerned–are identical to American ones in the proselytizing, suicidal hatred of their own societies shown by their “progressive” faculties. The main difference between their case and ours is that the U. S. is, for the moment anyway, still buffered by geography from imminent annihilation by an implacable enemy; so much for Samuel Johnson’s famous dictum that , “. . . when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

    • reader

      There was a sizable communist contingent in Israel at the outset. The irony is that Stalin would never let Israel be otherwise. Ben Gurion actually outmaneuvered (and pissed off) old Joe by marginalizing the commies. But the commies are like roaches – if you don’t clean, you’re guaranteed infestation.

  • Hank Rearden

    In the end, the underlying impulse of the Left is a mystery. For instance, where does Bill Ayers’ “rage” (his word) against America come from?

    In the U.S. I have come to the conclusion that the great divide in society is between those who did chores as kids and those who didn’t – either because they were too rich or too poor. I was in college in the 1960’s and remember my almost-literal intake of breath when radicals first threw paint on stonework at the University. “Don’t they know how much work it will take to get that off?” The joke was ultimately on me because I didn’t know about sand blasting. But the point still holds.

    The university as we know it came about around 1915 – meaning codified academic freedom. Of course in Europe, universities have been around since the 1300’s. But we are dealing now with the post-1915 university.

    Free speech, free inquiry are essential to a free society. But, as Justice Jackson observed in another context “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.” So also, the university is not a suicide compact.

    A first step in Israel would be to defund universities judged to be acting against the public interest. I know. It is bringing politics into academics and when the Left is in power they are going to defund our side. But what other solution is there?

    I think it is particularly demoralizing for a society under siege like Israel to be paying for its own destruction. Take the risk. Defund the Left. When they get in power they are going to defund us anyway, so the risk is not as great as it appears. They are going to make our case “hate speech.” Defunding the Left doesn’t prevent it from making its case. It doesn’t even prevent it from keeping university chairs. It just prevents us from paying for it.

    In Israel, have the ruling party make decisions on academic funding that are openly political. Let’s not pretend it is anything else. Have a committee on academic funding that deliberates in public, on whatever the Israeli equivalent of C-SPAN is. Let’s not hide. “Are we defunding people we judge to be undermining the country?”

    “You betcha.”

    • Raymond_in_DC

      “A first step in Israel would be to defund universities judged to be acting against the public interest.”

      The problem is that some of the same universities with such destructively leftist Humanities and Social Science departments often do terrific work in the sciences – Hebrew U, Tel Aviv U, and yes even BGU. How does one support *that* work without indirectly supporting the leftist clap-trap?

      One option for individuals is to support those institutions where any leftist proclivities of instructors or students have less resonance because folks are too busy doing real work – Technion or Weizmann, for example, which focus on engineering, medicine, and scientific research. Or the new university leftist profs love to hate because it’s over the Green Line: Ariel.

      • Hank Rearden

        It’s a good point. I don’t quite know the specifics in Israel – actually not in the US of A either – but maybe “the Right” starts a movement, which it abruptly implements when it is in power – that it is “political” and thus illegitimate for the State to “contaminate” the Humanities and the Social Sciences with State money. “From now on, in order to promote domestic tranquillity :-), the State can only support activities in the hard sciences – physics, chemistry, biology – and related fields – medicine and engineering.” Of course the Left will overturn that when they get in, but it is a step. If the State has some integral supporting role in universities, if, as we would say in the U.S., all Israeli universities are PUBLIC rather than PRIVATE, then the State requires reorganization where a University is either a science/engineering/medicine institution OR a humanities/social science institutions.

        It isn’t that any of these thoughts are particularly original, but (1) the State has to stop funding its own destruction and (2) it has to suck it up and take the issue on head-on. “Are you politicizing the Academy?” “No. But we ARE reacting to the fact that it IS politicized. We, Israel, have no intention of restricting anybody’s free speech, but we are now saying, that as we move into the future, we are not paying FOR speech that is detrimental to the Commonweal.”

        Yeah, they are going to call Israel Nazis. So what? They already do!

        And…think how it will warm the hearts of all of us – in Israel and In the US of A – to hear the shrieks of agony from those who despise greed, who treasure equality, and who think their home societies are rotten to the core from their pursuit of profit. It makes my day just thinking about it.

    • Father Dacius

      That is a tactic we would be well advised to consider in the U.S. if we can ever get a decent group in Washington. Let them have their ideology, but let us not pay for it.

  • herb benty

    Now I see the natural partnership of Marxism/Islam. They both hate Israel, Christianity, freedom, individual rights and responsibility. As much as commies/islamics would deny it, they do worship a god…..Lucifer.

  • Arf

    I love Israel — or at least the idea of it but it is doomed — mostly by it’s own hand. How utterly sad and sick.