Dershowitz vs. Tenured Extremists

No academic freedom of speech for the defenders of Israel.

One individual who is extremely effective in upsetting the academic radical Left is Professor Alan Dershowitz from Harvard University.  Dershowitz, "Dersh," has long been the nemesis of the far Left, especially academic radicals.  They like to blame him (falsely) for the firing of Norman Finkelstein from DePaul University.  [Actually DePaul fired Finkelstein because he had never published a single academic publication.]  And Dersh’s defense of America and of Israel drives them to conniptions.  But it are not only radical Americans professors who find Dershowitz enraging.

Without warning, academic freedom of speech has become the leading topic of discussion in Israel.  The local newspapers and TV shows are filled with debates about “censorship” in academic institutions. Suddenly, everyone in Israel can see the anti-democratic nature of Israel’s academic fifth column.  And Israel owes Prof. Alan Dershowitz a debt of gratitude for exposing the damages of Israel’s anti-Israel academic far Left, the academic copperheads who support the enemies of their country in a time of war.

Receiving an honorary doctoral degree at Tel Aviv University just recently, Dershowitz gave a dramatic and eloquent speech denouncing the anti-Israel Israeli Left dominating if many universities across the nation nowadays. The entire speech can be read here. Tel Aviv University is arguably the worst den of tenured extremists and academic communists in Israel.

In the speech, Dershowitz defended the rights of extremist 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, something the Israeli semi-fascist Far Left has been attempting to suppress and prohibit.  Dersh explained that it is misleading when such people whine about being denounced.  Sure, they claim they are only engaging in “criticism” of Israel. But to the contrary, Dershowitz described how these people are engaging in treason, delegitimizing Israel itself, calling for world boycotts of Israel and calling for it's annihilation. They even go so far as to organize boycott campaigns against their own country and their own universities with foreign anti-Semites. Dersh named several Tel Aviv University anti-Israel extremists, including some in Boston that day attempting to organize a boycott of Israel’s engineering university, the Technion, for being a “war machine.”

Dershowitz then denounced the Tel Aviv University Stalinist professor Shlomo Sand, who is really an expert on the French cinema, for writing a shocking propaganda book.  In it Sand claims not only that Israel has no right to exist, but that there is actually no such thing as a Jewish people.  Dershowitz proceeded to denounce far-leftist McCarthyists for insisting that freedom of speech belongs only to people who agree with them.  He denounced far-leftist professors at Israeli universities who harass and persecute students who dare to disagree with the leftist propaganda being force-fed them, comparing their behavior to those who sexually harass students.  He denounced the in-classroom indoctrination conducted by leftist Israeli academics.  He insisted that students too are entitled to academic freedom, and that includes the right to disagree with the indoctrination by radical leftist professors.

The Tel Aviv University audience listening to Dershowitz repeatedly interrupted him with loud applause.  But the members of the tenured Left squirmed in their seats.  It did not take them long to open fire in retaliation.

Within days, a group of Tel Aviv University professors denounced Dershowitz and challenged his right to the freedom of speech and to criticize them.  A petition of anti-Israel radicals and a few fellow travelers who teach at Tel Aviv University was collected (a handful of the signatories are not identified with the ultra-Left), and it was published on a pro-terror, radically anti-Israel, far-leftist website.   Since then the web has been crawling with anti-Dershowitz smears on countless blogs.

Those 46 Tel Aviv University faculty members signed the petition denouncing Dershowitz for mentioning by name two of TAU’s most radical anti-Israel academics and their seditious boycott-Israel activities:  Rachel Giora and Anat Matar.  How dare Dershowitz mention TAU academics by name, the petition shrieks and moans.

By name, you say?  The very same Anat Matar collected and distributed photo and personal information about an Israeli army officer, with the banner headline “War Criminal” and “Murderer,” in a poorly disguised call for the officer to be harmed.   The Israeli Attorney General is now investigating Matar for this (she has been arrested before for her violent behavior in anti-Israel protests.)

And let us take a better look at just who these 46 great “defenders of academic freedom and freedom of speech” are, these people who denounce Dershowitz because he dares to exercise his own freedom of speech.

Among the signers of the petition, claiming that Dershowitz’s words “remind them of the darkest regimes in human history” when he criticizes anti-Israel extremists, are:

Prof. Chaim Gans of TAU law school, a far-leftist anti-democratic extremist who organized a petition demanding that an IDF woman colonel be prevented from teaching a course in the school because he did not like her opinions.  See this.

Prof. Gadi Algazi, a Marxist historian at TAU who recently led a march of Arabs supporting Hezb’Allah terror – see this.

Prof. Uri Hadar, a psychology professor, who recently organized a conference at TAU to support the Hamas and Hezb’Allah.  See this.

Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal, an educational psychologist and an anti-Zionist Marxist extremist, who produces anti-Jewish propaganda for the UN and thinks Zionism is the obstacle to peace.  See this.

Dr. Gerardo Leibner, who teaches history, a communist and anti-Zionist agitator. See this.

Dr. Orly Lubin, literature lecturer and anti-Israel propagandist.  See this.

Prof. Adi Ophir, an extremist philosophy professor, who recently led the “Israel Apartheid Week” pogrom in the UK.  See this.

Prof. Anat Biletzki, philosophy professor, a leader in the Boycott Israel movement. See this.

Prof. Moshe Zuckerman, history professor, anti-Israel extremist.  See this.

Judd Ne’eman, a rabidly anti-Israel film professor.  See this.

In addition, the two professors who organized the violent protests at TAU a few years back against the opening of a synagogue on the campus (but have no problem with a mosque) are on the list.

The stories about censorship filling the Israeli newspapers also concern the censorship of the governors of Tel Aviv University by the new president of the University, Prof. Joseph Klafter.  He refused to “allow” the Governors of his own university to take a vote in their own plenary session.  In part inspired by Dershowitz’s speech, those Governors sought to condemn Tel Aviv University’s anti-Israel academic extremists and tenured traitors.  In response to the censorship by Klafter, one leading Governor and donor to the university has resigned from the Board. He is likely to be followed by others.  Under the “constitution” of Tel Aviv University, the Board of Governors is supposed to be the supreme power in control of the university, with the president subordinate to it.  But that is obviously not how the institution is run.

Meanwhile the radical progressive psychology professor Carlo Strenger has taken it upon himself to act as Klafter's button man. Strenger has a long track record of promoting the far leftist agenda and is on record opposing freedom of speech for non-leftists because its exercise by non-leftists constitutes McCarthyism and “incitement.”   (For years, Israeli leftists have used the term “incitement” to refer to any opinion with which they disagree.)  Strenger attacked Tel Aviv University Governors in the Israeli media for their attempt at criticizing the school’s tenured extremists.  He also accused the Governors of lying, something that no doubt will now cost the university in terms of its ability to raise funds.

While writing a toady defense of the worst radicals at Tel Aviv University, including the notorious anti-Semite Sand, Strenger badmouthed Dershowitz and the Governors.  He denied that Sand’s “book” is anti-Israel or anti-Semitic at all, insisting it is nothing more than a call for peace.  Actually Sand’s “Invention of the Jewish People” book carries crackpot themes generally to be found on Neo-Nazi websites about how today’s Jews are imposters and converted “Khazars.”  Naturally, Strenger also denied that any TAU professors ever indoctrinate students or harass non-leftist students.  He found that “only” 140 students at Tel Aviv University have filed complaints about being harassed when they disagree with leftist faculty members.  And that is just a tiny proportion of the entire student body, insists Strenger.

Strenger claims that the media misunderstood what Dershowitz said in his speech, and that Dersh’s comments about bullying professors from the Left were actually referring to professors in the US and not to any at TAU.  That should give Dershowitz a good laugh.  Whether Klafter is behind Strenger’s trashing of the TAU governors and toady piece is unclear.

Klafter and Strenger have also been joined by Prof. Galia Golan, an extremist professor of “Government, Diplomacy and Strategy.”  She was among the founders of the leftist protest group “Peace Now,” which seeks Israeli capitulation to Arab demands.  Writing on the YNET news site, Golan denounced those who dare to criticize the academic far Left.   She repeated the familiar McCarthyist charges - that the exercise of freedom of speech by critics of the Left produces violence and so must be suppressed.  A bit amusingly, she accused those who criticize the Left of being “rich.” (If only that were so.) She singled out an Israeli Zionist student organization, Im Tirtzu, for condemnation because it dares to criticize far-leftist NGOs and professors.

Golan writes:

“It is not clear just what is behind the present attack on Israeli civil society and academia.  Is it simply a misguided campaign by a small, inconsequential (but rich) minority on the extreme right?  Is it the lashing out of a weak government responding to outside pressure and criticism?  Or, is it, more likely, the expression of an ideology now in power – that of the right-wing, the Likud and its supporters? …The Knesset (parliament) committee called upon the Council for Higher Education to take the report of Im Tirzu and investigate what Committee Chair Zvulun Orlev called ”subversive and anti-Zionist.”  These (and more) are not isolated items. They add up to a policy, a campaign designed to cripple civil society, stifle criticism and eliminate opposition. They endanger the very essence of liberal democracy and of a free society, namely pluralism – of thought, deed, and expression.”

Israel’s tenured Left is displaying growing hysteria.  It is being targeted, monitored and exposed by watchdog groups, similar to the Campus Watch group that operates in the US.  Campus Watch is also commonly denounced in hysterical terms as “McCarthyist” by the McCarthyist Left.  The main group in Israel exposing the extremists is Isracampus.  A second watchdog is NGO-Monitor, which exposes the political bias and extremist agendas in anti-Israel Non-Government Organizations.  Israeli leftist professors, led by TAU’s Daniel Bar-Tal and Ben Gurion University’s David Newman, have repeatedly issued calls for the suppression of these groups, supposedly in the name of freedom of speech and democracy.

The hysterical reactions by people like Golan and the tenured signers of the anti-Dershowitz petition show how effective these watchdog groups are in exposing the seditious activities of Israel’s academic fifth column.  Today, those who expose and monitor the seditious Left are the real guardians of Israeli democracy.