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Editorial Article

When it Does not Add Up: Anti-Israel Mathematicians at Israeli Universities

By Lee Kaplan,

Mathematicians, who are only mathematicians, have exact minds, provided all things are explained to them by means of definitions and axioms; otherwise they are inaccurate and insufferable, for they are only right when the principles are quite clear”--

Blaise Pascal (French Mathematician, Philosopher and Physicist, 1623-1662)

University of Haifa mathematician Kobi Peterzil was downright annoyed during operation Cast Lead in Gaza. It seems the University decided to post Israeli flags around campus and even have lights in the University’s tower configured in the shape of the Israeli flag, all in support of victims of Qassam rockets in the South of Israel. Peterzil, indignant at the effort, stated, “This is a joke, right? Shall we all sing Hatikvah as we enter our classes?”

That an Israeli university professor would find patriotism objectionable is not that unusual; nihilism is the name of the game on university campuses worldwide these days and Peterzil’s criticism of Haifa U.’s flag policy fits right in. Everyone knows Hamas calls for the murder of every Jew in Israel and shoots missiles into Sderot and Ashkelon to achieve this. Those flags on campus were to show unity with fellow Israelis in the southern half of the country.

Peterzil’s cynicism about such patriotism and his support for the Arab-Israeli students who cheer on Hamas at Haifa University should not surprise us, given the state of mind on so many campuses today. But is Peterzil also a hypocrite? Would he be so cynical were he teaching at Islamic University in Gaza or at Bir Zeit with its Arab and Islamic Nationalism calls for the murder of Israelis as matters of nationalist pride? Peterzil has never spoken out against the flying of PLO or Hamas flags on Israeli campuses by Arab and leftist students.

Oddly enough, mathematicians like Peterzil are well-represented among the anti-Israel Israeli academics. For example, Hebrew University's math professor Ehud DeShalit (no relation to Gilad Shalit, who is still languishing in captivity) is virulently against the Jewish state’s exercising self-defense. Some of these mathematicians even openly root for Israel’s enemies, employing false lemmas like “Israeli apartheid” and corollaries such as “Zionism is racism” to prove that everything is Israel's fault. Perhaps this is due to thinking only in abstracts as mathematicians are wont to do. But it has a more deleterious effect on Israel than her citizens and taxpayers can imagine. The radicals use their academic positions to lend themselves credibility on the world stage when they bash Israel.

One group of such Israeli mathematics professors loves to work with its Arab counterparts at Al Quds University, a cooperation about which Al Quds President Sari Nussiebeh said, "We hope this effort will prove to be a step in showing how the universal language of mathematics can be translated into a shared language of political and moral values." Nussiebeh, you see, is a Palestinian terrorist, who provided intelligence to Saddam Hussein’s forces when he was shooting SCUD missiles at Israel. Nussiebeh spent time in an Israeli prison as a terrorist, and then was allowed to leave Israel for three years under a plea agreement. Ehud DeShalit happily works with Nusseibeh and wants more Palestinians from the "Territories" in Israeli universities.

Kobi Peterzil, as a mathematician, is an expert in Modnet mathematics, or o-minimal theory model in operations systems. He deals in abstracts all the time. These abstracts are divorced, say, from a Jewish mother who worries if her children will be blown up by a Qassam missile while at school. Peterzil is also the head of the northern chapter of the radically anti-Israel organization Ta’ayush, which means “co-existence” in Arabic. The co-existence it seeks is one in which Israel ceases to exist as a Jewish state. Co-existence, one would think, is a two-way street, but apparently not in the abstract minds of some mathematicians.

Ta’ayush is affiliated with the Alternative Information Center, which works with and supports the communist inspired Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the communist wing and second largest faction of the PLO. The AIC was closed down temporarily by the Shin Bet for its ties with the PFLP and it recently memorialized the recent death of PFLP founder George Habash for his inspiring them.

It was in fact the Alternative Information Center that helped host two British/Pakistani terrorists who carried out the "Mike’s Place" suicide bombing attack in Tel Aviv and helped them enter Israel. The AIC is tied to the pro-terror International Solidarity Movement and Ta’ayush routinely demonstrates alongside the ISM in areas such as Hebron. Peterzil wrote an article, internationally published appearing on ISM websites, detailing his indignation at the Israeli government for supposedly closing off an Arab village while allowing a Jewish community three kilometers away nearby. Peterzil wrote about the Arab village of Dar el Hanoun, which he alleges was in existence 80 years before the newer Jewish settlement at Mitzpe Iron. He describes the latter as a form of “colonization.” You know, Jews colonizing the land of Israel, the birthplace of the Jews.

The reality is that the Israeli government designated the area a green belt and offered to pay the Arabs residing there to move elsewhere. The Israeli government has offered to move the Arabs at its own expense and compensate them generously, and most accepted the offer. Peterzil's friends would no doubt be the first to endorse proposals to create green zones if it involved moving Jews out of their homes.

Even more disturbing is Kobi Peterzil's signing of various petitions designed to weaken and prevent the Jewish state from defending itself. He signed a petition in praise of the Methodist Church’s decision to boycott Israel. He also signed a petition and has encouraged young Israelis to refuse to serve in the IDF, the same Israeli army that protects him and the University where he teaches alongside his Arab students who call for the end of the Jewish state.

When Palestinian Arabs want Jews out of Judea and Samaria in what they hope is to become Palestine, they try and kill them with bombs and guns. Peterzil and his Ta'ayush friends do not express similar moral outrage over the eviction of Jews from Judea and Samaria. And the same could be said for some others of Peterzil’s mathematics colleagues in Israeli academia.

Another mathematician, this one affiliated with Bar-Ilan University and possibly also with the Technion, is named Kobi Snitz. He is a leader of the ultra-violent and anti-Israel "Anarchists Against the Wall." This is a group of people from outside and inside Israel who want, well, anarchy. They aid Arabs who want terrorists to have easy access to Israel’s civilian population by vandalizing Israel's security fence. Every weekend, Snitz and friends incite the Arabs in villages in the West Bank to riot and attack Israeli soldiers and border guards, then cry foul if the soldiers disperse them.

Still another PhD in mathematics, Dalit Baum, has never even used her PhD in mathematics in the academic sphere other than as a ticket for bashing Israel. She proudly proclaims herself a lesbian Women’s Studies Professor, whose main academic credentials are that she organizes gays to oppose the existence of the Jewish state. She celebrates the same Palestinians who murder gays and lesbians like her.

What makes mathematicians like Peterzil, DeShalit, Snitz and Baum and other Israel mathematicians ignore the Jew murderers by Hamas and the endless Arab rhetoric about driving Israel into the sea? Such fuzzy-headed thinking might indirectly even be hurting the nation’s children in their mathematics. Few people know that in 1964 Israeli schoolchildren were first in math worldwide, but since then, thanks to some of Israel’s abstract-thinking mathematicians, Israeli children now place 28th in the world. Professors too busy creating a Palestinian state have little time to worry that little Moshe can’t count.

Ehud DeShalit of Hebrew University’s Einstein Institute of Mathematics claims he doesn’t believe in a single educational approach to dealing with math, a method he finds “boring.” DeShalit also seems to be bored when it comes to violent Arab irredentism against the Jewish state. DeShalit was featured in an article in “Occupation Magazine” put out by the Alternative Information Center and the International Solidarity Movement.

DeShalit embraces the Arab mantra of Israel’s guilt no matter what and urges support for anti-Israel goals. He created a mathematics museum for children, both Palestinian and Israeli, which allegedly deals in pure math as a means of developing co-existence. We wonder how many of the Arab children who have visited it have grown up to murder Jewish children.

Of course, the facts that Palestinian textbooks teach math in an original manner, for example, where computations over dunams of land are phrased to determine how much was "stolen" by Jews, or how many Jews should be executed in a given circumstance of Palestinian revenge. DeShalit has no problems collaborating with Sari Nussiebeh. After all, who cares about someone who helped drop SCUDS on the heads of Israeli schoolchildren?

DeShalit has loudly protested against the IDF restricting the number of Palestinian students from the territories attending Israeli universities. Never mind that his own campus has been repeatedly targeted by Palestinian bombers. The Palestinian universities to which DeShalit would grant equal treatment and access to Israeli universities also celebrate terror openly and commonly push for the academic boycott of Israeli universities on a regular basis.

Another colleague of DeShalit at the Einstein Math Center at Hebrew University is Mathematician Emmanuel Farjoun. He has a long track record of backing anti-Israel political activism. Farjoun signed a petition for the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. In other words, he supports boycott of his own university.

Farjoun was one of ten Israeli scientists who signed the original petition calling for the boycott of Israeli schools. "I think international pressure should be put on Israel to respect the rights of Palestinians," says Farjoun. He adds that he believes that scientists should not act individually. "Scientists should collaborate on an individual level with colleagues all over the world, regardless of the government under which they live," Farjoun says, but then in the same breath he urges scientists to boycott Israeli scientists. Farjoun is so hostile to Israel that he was once even criticized for it by the late pro-terror Marxist sociologist from the Hebrew University, Baruch Kimmerling. Farjoun can be found endorsing the academic and educational boycott of Israel on Arab websites abroad like Al Ahram of Egypt .

Farjoun has actually written in defense of killing Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Prior to 1948 there were many legally purchased and developing Jewish communities that the Arabs seized, even murdering the Jewish occupants after an armistice. But Farjoun endorses the Arab "narrative" that Jews living in any future state of Palestine should be killed the same as black slaves in history might do to their oppressors. Interestingly, he uses as an example William Styron’s book The Confessions of Nat Turner. There’s one major problem with this; the book is pure fiction and it raised objections even among black intellectuals. Innocent blacks suffered because of the real Turner Revolt just as innocent Palestinians suffer under the leadership of Hamas and Fatah and the other terror groups. Comparing Palestinian Arabs to black slaves of the antebellum US south is not only noxious, but plain ignorant.

Farjoun supports British and French efforts to boycott Israel. Quoting Farjoun: "Boycotts are the final step," he says, "when the situation is already very severe, like in South Africa, and here the situation is completely analogous, and moreover, here the Palestinians are not even citizens, and have been living for 35 years without basic rights."

One thing obvious about Farjoun’s "thinking" is that he seems to be strongly influenced by the communist party line. The Styron novel received considerable attention and promotion by the late Professor of History and head of the US Communist party Herbert Aptheker. Farjoun has written about "class struggle," something about which he has no academic credentials at all. He’s a mathematician, not an economist or sociologist.

Israeli far-leftist anti-Israel academics in the mathematics field may have their own abstract ways of looking at things, but they are paid by the Israeli taxpayers, and then promote an anti-Israel agenda that sometimes involves terrorist attacks against those same taxpayers.


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