The Assault on Academic Freedom by Tel Aviv University
Leftist Faculty Members
by Steven Plaut, University of Haifa
January 26, 2009
caucus of far-leftist professors at Tel Aviv University has a new
cause. It is the suppression of academic freedom in the university's
School of Law. The leftists are upset that the school is considering
allowing the woman colonel who heads the Israeli Defense Forces
international law division to lecture in its Law School. The
far-leftists are opposed to that. Basically they are opposed to
anyone teaching in the School of Law who is not a far-leftist
anti-Zionist like them.
this for the full report.
The new assault on
academic freedom involves Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, a lawyer in the
military. One might think that leftist postureurs for rigorous
enforcement of "law" in warfare and in battles would be happy to
have such a person speaking in a School of Law. After all, unlike so
many of the denizens of the law school, she has been forced to deal
with real-world military dilemmas, involving complex tradeoffs and
difficulties, not just self-righteous pieties about human rights.
leftists however claim she is herself a war criminal because she
gave the okay to bomb the "graduation ceremony" of a group of Hamas
terrorists pretending to be police cadets. As you may recall, one of
the most successful anti-terror operations in the recent Operation
"Cast Lead" was the strike against the "school" for the terrorist
cadets. In addition, the academic Fifth Column is angry because
Sharvit-Baruch evidently thinks that Jews are legally permitted to
defend themselves against genocidal terrorists, and that they may
even use weapons in self-defense! They decided that such a point of
view must be muzzled!
According to the
news report on this assault on academic freedom,
published in Haaretz:
'Leading the protest against Sharvit-Baruch's
appointment is Professor Chaim Ganz of the university's Minerva
Center for Human Rights.
'Ganz wrote a letter to Professor Hanoch
Dagan, the dean of the law faculty, claiming that Sharvit-Baruch's
interpretation of the law during Israel's Gaza offensive allowed
the army to act in ways that constitute potential war crimes. Ganz
also said that Sharvit-Baruch harms Israel's values system.
'Dr. Anat Matar, a lecturer at Tel Aviv
University's philosophy department, said, "I was shocked to learn
that half of the second-year law students will learn the
foundations of law from someone who helped justify the killing of
civilians, including hundreds of children."
'Dagan told Haaretz that he will not respond
to the claims of the original story, but said that the Faculty of
Law makes every effort to expose its students to a variety of
opinions and encourages discussion, even about questions that
As background to
this, it should be noted that the School of Law at Tel Aviv
University is already one of the most politicized and extremist
academic departments at the university, and is a bastion of
far-leftist anti-Israel extremist faculty members. Faculty members
at the school misuse their positions to engage in naked political
advocacy, some of it in conjunction with openly anti-Israel advocacy
and activist organizations. Leftist law faculty in Israel, including
at Tel Aviv University, were the main focus of a recent research
paper and expose of political bias in Israeli law schools, entitled
"Pro-Bono for Palestine: Scholarship, Law, Lawyers. European
Government Funding, and the Internal Legal Campaign against Israel."
The report was produced by
www.isracampus.org.il and copies may be obtained from it (email:
firstname.lastname@example.org). That expose was written by Dr. Seth
Frantzman from the Hebrew University. Chaim Ganz (or Gans) was one
of those targeted in the study, including for his support for the
mutiny and insurrection of Israeli soldiers refusing to serve
because of political ideology. This is the same Ganz now trying to
prevent the colonel from teaching.
In particular, in
his report Frantzman singles out the Minerva Center, with which Ganz
is associated, financed with money from Germany and the EU, as a
biased politicized pseudo-academic center, devoted mainly to
promoting a radical advocacy agenda.
Here are some
citations from Frantzman:
The Minerva Center for Human Rights ....
receives funding from the Minerva Foundation in Germany, the Ford
Foundation, the New Israel Fund (NIF), the Konrad Adenauer
foundation, the United States Institute for Peace, the European
Commission and the Faculty of law and the Truman Center at Hebrew
University. It partners with the NIF's Shatil 'training program'
for NGOs, which principally 'trains' NGOs that denounce Israel,
and Bimkom, an organization that primarily supports only
Palestinians and Arabs. Through its partnerships it provides
'human rights' training for Palestinian teachers, mostly teaching
them how to oppose Israel. It is currently involved with Bimkom in
a research project whose goal is to study the Palestinian Arab
village of Isawiyeh in East Jerusalem and help it prepare a land
use plan for "development." The Minerva Center, it should be
pointed out, has never advised a Jewish municipality, even the
most poverty-stricken ones like Kiryat Malachi, on planning and
land use. Minerva claims that it is involved with "diverse
disciplines" and "different sectors." The problem is that they are
all far-leftist ones.
On the Minerva website listing those
organizations benefiting from the Minvera fellows' volunteer work
one finds Adalah (an Arab "human rights" group), the Public
Committee Against Torture, ACRI, B'tselem, Hamoked, the "Legal
Center for the Arab Minority, and the Jerusalem-based Palestinian
Organization for Economic and Social rights. These organizations
are not exactly 'diverse' and they cater primarily to helping
Palestinian Arabs alone. ...
Clearly Minerva, an organization established in 1997 at the Hebrew
and Tel Aviv Universities, actively strives to influence the
political opinions of its interns through driving them to work
with the most radical anti-Israel voices in Israeli society.
Besides Ganz, the other faculty member
organizing opposition to the appointment of Col. Sharvit-Baruch is
Anat Matar, who is not a lawyer or legal studies faculty member at
all. She teaches philosophy, sort of. Matar is one of the most
extremist and most openly anti-Israel faculty members in Israel. She
openly calls for Israel to be
destroyed by means of granting Palestinians a "right of return"
to all Israeli territory. She
has been arrested for violently assaulting Israeli police and
soldiers at a protest against the building of Israel's security
wall. She has a
long history of illegally promoting mutiny and insurrection
among Israeli soldiers.
These anti-Israel extremists are the people who
are seeking to destroy academic freedom at Tel Aviv University by
creating an ideological litmus test for hiring lecturers, an
anti-Israel extremist one.
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