≡ Menu

Neri Merhav, a professor of electrical engineering at Israel’s prestigious Technion, responded to my post in which I highlighted racist Facebook postings in which he advocated ethnic cleansing of Israeli Palestinians and called Barack Obama a Muslim, among others.  Actually, I didn’t ask him to reply.  I sent a query to the president and dean of the Technion asking if they were aware of the public nature of his objectionable views and the impact they might have on both the reputation of the institution and the feelings of Israeli Palestinian students there.

neri merhav

Prof. Merhav’s Facebook profile prominently features his affiliation with Technion

Instead of replying, they passed along my message to Merhav, who replied:

My Dean has forwarded me the e-mail you sent to him and to the President of the Technion…

I was absolutely amazed by this irresponsible and unfair act on your part. I am using the word “irresponsible”, because it is, first of all, YOU who are *explicitly* harming the reputation of the Technion that you so `worry’ about (just like you are harming the reputation of Israel in general in other articles of yours), primarily because of the bombastic, exaggerated title “Technion Professor Supports Palestinian Ethnic Cleansing” (it is bombastic, by the way, just like the name of your blog, “Tikun Olam”).

And I am using the word “unfair” because you did not even give me the opportunity to respond, first of all by myself, to your vicious accusations before you published this poor blog post about me worldwide, and before sending this disturbing e-mail to the dean and the president, who both (unlike you, perhaps) have more important things to take care of in their precious time than to review my Facebook profile, as you suggest them. Take my word for it.

Let me now make several points concerning the contents of your lousy blog post.

My Facebook page is the one of “Neri Merhav” as a private person, it is not a formal Facebook page of “Neri Merhav” as a Technion professor.

As I note in the graphic above, Prof. Merhav prominently highlights his affiliation with the Technion in his Facebook profile.  It’s mentioned no less than three times!  So readers would be forgiven if they associated his views with his employer.  If an employer does not dissociate itself from such racism, as Technion has refused to do, then readers can justifiably assume that they don’t have a problem with the racism spewed by their distinguished faculty members.

As such, I am entitled to express within it my views and my feelings, informally and completely freely, just like any other individual. To the best of knowledge, I am living in a democratic country (the only one in the Middle East, to remind you), exactly like you.

Considering Merhav believes so strong in free speech (except for those he detests, like “Arabs”), it’s a wonder that he’s scrubbed his Facebook account of every post I linked to in my earlier profile of him.  Apparently, toning down his racism through self-censorship is a quality he values.

It never ceases to amaze me that academics considered learned in their fields turn into blubbering idiots when they venture outside it.  That holds especially true when they venture into the thicket that is the Israeli-Arab conflict.  Lawyers, philosophers, engineers, medical doctors all pronounce themselves experts on the subject without having the faintest clue what they’re talking about.  Merhav here makes one of the dumbest errors in the hasbara handbook: first in declaring Israel to be a democracy (it isn’t); and then assuming it is the only one in the Middle East.  It’s no accident this racist omits Lebanon, Turkey, and Iran, each of which boast of democracies at least as creditable as Israel’s if not more so.

So what is your problem exactly? Is your real problem stemming from the fact that my views are different from yours? Or, is it because you have too much free time and you don’t know what to do with it other than digging into people’s Facebook pages and writing vicious blog posts about them? While I don’t think that this is any of your business, I can nevertheless say that you can rest assured – I am not using any Technion-related forum to express my political opinions.

In my earlier post, I predicted Merhav would use a variant of the “some of my best friends are Negroes” defense, offered by whites who sought to criticize Blacks while professing to know and love them.  The good professor doesn’t disappoint:

Moreover, these opinions have *no influence whatsoever* on my actual attitude toward students, whatever their ethnicity may be, and I do have students from various ethnic origins. None of them feels poor to the best of my judgement. On the contrary, one of them (a Muslim Arab, by the way) told me, just this week, that he never enjoyed in academic lectures before as much as he did in mine. Same comment applies to supervision of graduate students.

This is what important and all the rest is completely irrelevant!!!

Your specific comments about my posts are so stupid that they do not even deserve one-by-one replies. Let me just say that some of them show that you completely misunderstood what I meant (unlike many other people, who gave their `like’ or responded favorably).

I especially enjoy the following defense by Merhav, that I just didn’t get the joke he was playing on MK Ahmed Tibi, by asking what it would take to “persuade” him and his fellow “Arabs” to leave Israel:

Others show that you completely lack a sense of humor (like the last one about Tibi’s comment that they don’t leave Israel for “Milky”, or the one about a death penalty for someone who commits suicide..), and yet other comments of yours are either historically false or refer to posts that are completely unrelated to Palestinians. Even those that are related to Palestinians, express legitimate opinions, even if they are not in harmony with your extreme left-wing opinions.

I urge you to remove this blog post about me immediately and to back off from your letter to the dean and president of the Technion.

In response to that last “request,” I certainly will not remove the post.  I’ll let readers and hopefully his students and donors to Technion judge for themselves whether he is the racist I claim him to be; or the jolly bloke he claims to be.

jerusalem terror attack

Ibrahim al-Akri, from Shuafat, went on murderous rampage in Jerusalem

An East Jerusalem Palestinian driver plowed his vehicle into two separate crowds of Israeli Jewish pedestrians, killing a Druze Border Police officer, wounding thirteen, three critically.  A few hours later, three IDF soldiers were wounded in a similar car attack in the West Bank.  It’s the fourth such attack in less than two weeks.  Like one of the past incidents, today’s assault occurred at a Jerusalem light rail station.

When security forces confronted the terrorist they shot and wounded him.  As he lay on the ground, they executed him on the spot.  This has become the normative procedure (and in English) in such attacks.  An eye for an eye, a death for a death.  Israeli public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch heartily approved of the cold blooded killing:

“The action of the Border Police officer who chased after the assailant and quickly killed him was correct and professional and that is how we want these incidents to end.

Haaretz found the Palestinian’s murder to be problematic (translated from Hebrew):

As with the previous vehicular attack, a Border Police officer shot the terrorist to death after he’d been wounded and was lying on the ground.  Once again there are those who claim that given such circumstances his killing was unjustified.

It’s apparent that in such situations there is a new undeclared, unwritten regulation, which has found its expression in these past two incidents: either neutralizing attackers at the site of assault (like today), or the killing of the terrorists at the time of capture (as happened in the aftermath of the Yehudah Glick shooting and in September, during the operation resulting in the ‘detention’ of those who killed the three Israeli kidnap victims in Hebron).  Police shoot first and ask questions later…It even seems superfluous for Public Safety Minister Aharonovitch to declare that every such attack much end with the summary killing [execution] of the attacker.

…Such an unqualified public call [for summary killing] gives permission for [officially sanctioned] execution.  This gives an opening for deeply problematic moral, legal, and political complications…Aside from the prospect of upcoming elections, there would be no other reason for a government minister to offer such public statements.

In many of the past cases of apprehending Palestinians, the security forces claim the suspects opened fire first and were killed by return fire.  But I’ve pointed out that in almost all cases, they don’t fire in response.  They initiate and they execute.  With today’s terror attack, they’ve shed even that nicety.  This is another past incident of Border Police summary execution which I wrote about about here.

Israel immediately and fraudulently blamed Mahmoud Abbas for the attack, though aside from making public statements excoriating the Israeli police for usurping the Muslim holy places, he did nothing to deserve such a claim. Clearly, Netanyahu was using the old trick known so well by magicians of displacing the mark’s attention from where the real sleight of hand was taking place.

In other words, the real cause for the new round of mayhem was the Gaza war of the past summer in which 2,100 Gazans were killed by the IDF, and subsequent rounds of theft and expulsion of long-time Palestinian residents from their East Jerusalem homes by settlers, and the military-style Border Police occupation of Al Aqsa, along with settlers and leading MKs storming the holy site, and calling for its destruction and replacement by the Third Temple.  In the past two weeks, a settler killed a young Palestinian girl & severely wounded her sister in a hit and run attack which police refused to investigate as a crime.  Palestinians don’t forget such things, though Israelis certainly do.

In response, Jordan recalled its ambassador.  While many Israelis care little about foreign diplomats or diplomacy in general and will take little notice of this, it’s significant that one of the Arab countries with which Israel has enjoyed its longest span of peace has taken this dramatic step in protest.  Jordan, as the protector of Jerusalem’s holy places has a special obligation on behalf of the world’s Muslims to object to Israel’s desecration of the Haram al Sharif.  Palestinians and Muslims in general have come to believe that Israel is attempting to unilaterally change conditions on the Temple Mount.

Israeli media claimed the attacker was a “low-level” Hamas “operative” whose brother had served time in an Israeli prison and been released in the Shalit prisoner exchange. But curiously, Israel preferred blaming Abbas. Probably because it knows the PA plans to mount a major international campaign for statehood in the UN. Israel’s leaders also a fear mounting tidal wave of legitimacy for the Palestinian cause will cause pressure to recognize Palestine. This force will enable world powers to exert pressure for Israeli concessions or even the forced implementation of a peace agreement.  Israel is not above exploiting a terror attack in order to defang Palestine’s forward political momentum.  In fact, Netanyahu specializes in such manipulation.

In fact, Sweden just recognized Palestine last week, the first EU country to do so.  The British parliament voted to ask its own cabinet to do so and French lawmakers are preparing debate on such a resolution.

For the past 100  years, whenever one side or the other (but mostly the Jews) have encroached on the prerogatives of the other, they’ve caused a violent response. The 1929 Kotel riots in which scores of Jews and Palestinians were killed started this way.  The first Intifada began when Sharon brought 1,000 police to the Temple Mount in a brazen show of force meant to be seared into Palestinian minds, that while Jordan might nominally control the sacred ground, Israel could impose its will arbitrarily.

Extremist Israelis like those ruling the country now believe they can steamroller over the Palestinians; that “this land is ours and that’s just the way it’s going to be.” It may work for the playground bully, but not so much in the world of real politic when your opponent is willing to die to prevent you from succeeding.  The Palestinian goal will be, like all classic insurgencies, to make East Jerusalem ungovernable.  This would reinforce the illegitimacy of Israeli rule there and dispel the notion of Israeli sovereignty over a “united” Jerusalem.

Israeli extremist hardliners like Naftali Bennet have called for the proverbial ‘iron fist,” as if the country’s current policy is chocolates and cream. The next step is perhaps to forbid Palestinians from driving in Jerusalem. After that, a full curfew for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. Finally, perhaps concentration camps or expulsion?  After all, wouldn’t that be the hardest fist?

The ‘moderate’ among Israeli extremists say they’d allow “moderate” Palestinians to remain after expelling the worst of the lot.  In 1492, the triumphant Spanish Catholics ‘graciously’ offered Jews the opportunity to convert if they wanted to avoid expulsion.  But Israel’s Orthodox rabbinate would never accept mass Muslim converts to Judaism, since they’d be viewed as a secret Fifth Column.  And how would authorities determine which Palestinians were good and which bad?  Perhaps lie detector tests?  Or forcing them to wear 24 hour video cameras to ensure loyalty?


I have an idea.  It’s perhaps a bit far-fetched.  It may not be realistic for a thousand reasons. Not to mention that the Shabak may arrest anyone who proposes it seriously in Israel.  But before I share the idea with you, let me preface it with this background information.

Jonathan Cook just published a terrific and frightening post at Electronic Intifada, Israel moves to outlaw Palestinian political parties in the Knesset.  There is a certain amount of overkill in some anti-Zionist websites and at first I thought that headline might be guilty of it.  But after I read it I not only agreed with Cook, it started me thinking about what should or could be a response to these ominous developments. More on that later in this post.

For those who understand Hebrew, here Zoabi, during her failed visit to the Temple Mount, lectured the Border Police on her rights as an Israeli citizen.  She did so in a way that would make any Israeli blanche.  It’s not surprise that she’s so hated.   She doesn’t take shit from anyone (nor should she):

Cook starts from the current conflict between MK Haneen Zoabi, the Knesset, and Israeli police, which led to her six-month suspension from the elective body.  It is the longest such suspension ever delivered by the inaptly named Ethics committee.  Cook compares the severity of her punishment to a one-day punishment meted out to a radical Jewish MK who called for the death penalty against Ehud Olmert because of his willingness to barter what he saw as sovereign Israeli territory for peace.  The Supreme Court refused to suspend the move and suggested she ask the full Knesset to rescind the Ethics committee ruling.  Which is odd, because the Knesset already voted by a wide majority to approve it.

The Israeli state prosecutor will open a case against Zoabi for “criminal incitement” because the police provocatively assigned two Israeli Palestinian female officers to provoke her at one of her public appearances.  The MK called them “collaborators,” which of course they were.  A new Knesset bill proposed by the far-right Yisrael Beitenu would prohibit anyone “supporting terrorism” from running for Knesset.  Another would strip Zoabi, specifically of citizenship.

The “proof” she supported terrorism is that in an interview:

Zoabi described an Israeli Air Force pilot as “no less a terrorist than a person who takes a knife and commits a beheading.” She added that “both are armies of murderers, they have no boundaries and no red lines.”

One of the many strange qualities of this rightist claim against Zoabi is that it confuses political speech with real terrorism.  So for Lieberman and his cohorts the IDF may murder thousands of Palestinians and it is not terror.  But when Zoabi makes a verbal statement that such an act is terror, then she becomes the terrorist.  These rightist brutes deliberately conflate speech and act.  It seems almost part of the diagnosis of the condition from which they suffer.

The Israeli state apparatus clearly appears to be preparing for Zoabi to meet the same fate as her mentor, former leader of the Balad Party, Azmi Bishara.  The latter was hounded out of the country by the secret police, who accused him (not in court, where they never brought a case, but in the media) of being a Hezbollah spy and the group’s paymaster inside Israel.  Facing the prospect of ten years in an Israeli prison, he chose exile.  He has been welcomed to Dubai, where he’s leading a partnership developing a new Middle East media enterprise.

I predict, with a heavy heart, that the goons of the Shabak are preparing a similar fate for her.  But they first want to warm the hot seat by buffeting her with this series of legal tsouris, that will keep her occupied personally, emotionally and legally for months, if not longer.  Eventually, this smear campaign will set the stage for even more serious charges down the road.

Let’s also keep in mind that Zoabi’s persecution isn’t an anomaly.  Almost all Palestinian MKs have been charged with crimes, arrested, or threatened with expulsion or punishment for the crime of representing their constituents in a so-called democracy.  Jewish MKs never face such political persecution.

An equally damaging Knesset electoral proposal is to increase the threshold for entering the body from 2% to 3.5%.  This would in effect disenfranchise Israeli Palestinian political parties, which now hold 11 seats (while they hold 20% of the population, as racism has increased Palestinian citizens have stayed away from the polls, which explains why they don’t have 20+ seats as their numbers would suggest).  Raising the threshold would leave Palestinians with two unpalatable choices: either unite their disparate parties in a unified list; or face disenfranchisement.  Cook points out that one of the key stumbling blocks to a single party list is Hadash.  The Jewish-Arab party refuses to join the Palestinian parties because it claims it would disenfranchise the Jews who vote for it.  The claim seems dubious and deliberately designed to sabotage any possibility of surmounting the Knesset ploy.

It should be said that Israeli extremists (who run the government and Knesset) often propose maximalist bills meant to throw red meat to their constituents.  Often they back down. Sometimes Bibi calls them to their senses; other times the Supreme Court restrains some of the worst of the lunacy; and in a few rare instances the MKs themselves decide to take a step back from the precipice in the face of international opposition.  So it’s possible that Lieberman and his goons will be stymied in some or all of these efforts.  But liberal Zionists should take no comfort from that.  The fact is that 85% of Israeli Jews favor robbing Zoabi of her seat.  So though the proposals may appear off the wall to Americans or Europeans, this is the direction which the nation is taking.

Things will not get better.  There is no white knight coming along to save the day for Israel.  No DeGaulle.  Not even a Sharon or Rabin.  It can only get worse.

So I propose that Israeli Jews and Palestinians prepare for the worst.  Let’s assume that Palestinians are massively deprived of the vote.  The threshold is raised, the Israeli Palestinian parties can’t come to agreement, Zoabi is exiled.

one state tree

One state from two peoples? (Fogelson-Lubliner)

Clearly, the Jewish nationalist majority wants not only to stifle the Palestinian political voice, they’d like to “disappear” the Palestinians physically and entirely.  The latter should not expect significant help from the outside world.  The U.S. will stand by expressing “disappointment” with rising fascist tendencies.  The EU will come up a day late and dollar short as usual.  There may even be a slight possibility they will all get off their asses and do something for a change.  But we can’t expect this, since their record is so abysmal in past historical circumstances (Rwanda, Serbia, Cambodia).

What could the Palestinians (and Jewish allies) do themselves to take their own fate in their hands?  I make the following suggestions realizing that they are tentative and perhaps even unrealistic.  They demand a great cost from those who embrace them.  But given the dire circumstances true democrats face in Israel, ideas that offer alternatives have some real value.

I suggest that all Palestinians, those who are Israeli citizens and those in the Territories should rid themselves of their past political structures and form a united political coalition.  If there must be political parties from the outset, they should at least begin with the proposition that they are creating an alternative state which rejects the separatism and hate of the current system.

Israeli Jews who are prepared to turn away from the sham democracy offered by the current apartheid system should be recruited as well.  Together, they should propose a new political system that incorporates a single state.  They should prepare an election in all the territory incorporating Israel and Palestine.  They should elect an alternative parliament with ministers and a prime minister.  They should write a Declaration of Independence which promises to fulfill the broken promises in the original 1948 Declaration proposed by Ben Gurion.  This alternative state should propose a non-theocratic system, in which no religion or its adherents hold superior power.  It should draft a constitution guaranteeing rights and equality for all citizens regardless of religion or ethnicity.

This plan should not deny religion, because after all Israeli Jews and Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian, are fervent believers, however they may express this belief.  Religion plays an important role in both peoples.  It can’t be denied or suppressed.  This alternative state must embrace religion, but it must also constrain religion from dominating politics.

We can see why this is necessary from what Haaretz called the impending Jerusalem Intifada.  Today, an Israeli settler-minister proposed destroying the Al Aqsa mosque so the Temple may replace it.  With the nationalist government blocking Muslims from the third holiest shrine in Islam, widespread theft of East Jerusalem homes by Jewish settlers, and fanatics storming the Temple Mount to lay claim to it on behalf of the Third Temple, we can see where this ugliness may lead.  Jihad on the Muslim side and milhemet kodesh (holy war) on the Jewish side.

That’s why it’s so important that this alternative model offer a clear choice.  A new state in which religion will play a role, but where True Believers and fanatics will not rule as they do now.

The entire point of this exercise, which will certainly be hugely contentious in most circles in Israel and Palestine, is to show Israel for what it is: an ethnocratic state offering superior rights to Jews and almost no significant rights to Palestinians.  The alternative state and its new institutions would hold a mirror up to what Israel really is.  It would offer a juxtaposition that isn’t evident in the current system, in which Israel merely hides or crushes the Palestinian minority depending on circumstances.

Before skeptics begin attempting to tear apart this proposal, let me say that I recognize all the impediments: even the most progressive Israeli Jews and Palestinians will find it difficult to shed their previous allegiances and embrace a system so alien to them.  Palestinians from the Territories like Fatah and even Hamas will prefer the suffering and misery they know to the unknown.  The Shabak has also made clear that it would view such political agitation as subversion.  It will be only too happy to harrass, arrest and jail anyone attempting to organize such a project.  But when it does this, it will display the naked aggression of the State in the face of what it views as a challenge to its very existence.  They the world would see to what lengths the Israeli state would go to preserve its interests and prerogatives.

So anyone attempting this would have to brave persecution and even jail in pursuit of a fleeting vision.  But isn’t that what happens in many similar circumstances in the history of nations?  The pioneers advance ideas that threaten the status quo.  They are hated for it, jailed for it, even killed for it (Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc.).  But a hundred years later, often those same ideas have been absorbed into the mainstream.  No one who didn’t live in that time would even know or remember the suffering and bloodshed the early visionaries faced.

Finally, some will read this plan as my endorsement of a one-state solution.  If so, it is at best one and a-half cheers.  It is an acceptance that the Israeli state as currently constituted is incapable of resolving this conflict.  It is a realization that we must do something to break the logjam.  We must, as has happened with BDS, force Israel to face the fact that if it refuses to make decisions, they will be made for it.  Let Israel look into the future and see the prospect of dissolution of the supremacist Jewish state and its replacement by a democratic multi-religious state.  One can hope the fright will jolt them to their senses.

If you (Israeli Jews) refuse an independent Palestinian state, then accept a single state of Israel-Palestine in which someday you will certainly be a minority.  Israel needs a shock to the system.  Not just a tiny shock, but a near-death experience to realize the severity of the situation.  Indeed, it may already be too late for those who profess to endorse a two-state solution.  If it is, then let’s go forward into the future with a vision of a different state that fully endorses democracy and renounces sectarianism, religious fanaticism, and mindless hatred.  Let’s offer that shock, test the limits, and break them in pursuit of something better, new, and different.


Technion Professor Supports Palestinian Ethnic Cleansing

neri merhav islamophobe technion faculty

Prof. Neri Merhav, distinguished faculty member and devout Islamophobe

UPDATE: Prof. Merhav, thinking better of the worst of his racist Facebook screeds, has scrubbed his page of every post linked below.  One wonders, if he believes in free speech as strongly as he claims here, why he would feel the need to do that.  At any rate, I display a screenshot of his worst offense below & the rest of my references are translations.  Since he’s removed these posts you’ll just have to trust what I translated from his originals.

Neri Merhav is a professor of electrical engineering at Israel’s prestigious Technion. He holds the Irving Shepard Academic chair there. The Technion is one of the world’s leading engineering schools and its graduates populate Israel’s advanced intelligence agencies, including IDF Unit 8200.

He’s consulted for Hewlett Packard Labs in Israel and serves in senior roles on various committees and publications in the field of information theory. But little of this has brought me to dedicating a blog post to Prof. Merhav. What did is his Facebook page, which is full of rants against Palestinians of all varieties. Among other things, he’s advocated ‘soft’ ethnic cleansing and supported building of Israeli settlements in occupied Jerusalem.

In one post he addressed Palestinian MK Ahmed Tibi’s jibe directed at Israeli Jews, in which the latter said no Israeli Palestinian would be emigrating on account of the cheaper prices in Berlin.  This was the so called “Milky” controversy.  Merhav’s riposte:

It’s too bad that you [Israeli Palestinians] don’t leave on account of Milky.  Or perhaps there might be something else that would persuade you to leave.

That vague “something else” might be as benign as a financial incentive or as malign as a pogrom or forced expulsion.  He leaves it to the reader to fill in the blank.

He’s called Barack Obama a Muslim.  He said about Obama’s “confession” that he’d underestimated ISIS–that he needs a priest urgently since he was on a roll making so many confessions.  Then Merhav added snarkily:

On second thought, a priest wouldn’t be appropriate–since he’s actually a Muslim.

neri merhav ethnic cleansing

Prof. Merhav: what it will take to “persuade” Israeli Palestinians to leave Israel.

He attacked an Israeli youth leader who asked a group of Israeli children traveling to Auschwitz to consider whether there is a difference between a Nazi soldier not refusing an [illegal] order and an Israeli soldier not refusing an [illegal] order. Merhav said of the youth counselor:

“With self-hating Jews and Israel haters like these, we don’t even need anti-Semitism.”

In another Facebook post, he derides Mahmoud Abbas’ UN speech, in which the latter accuses Israel of genocide during Operation Protective Edge.  This has to be the most absurd form of genocide in history, Merhav exclaims, because the alleged murderers provided field hospitals and humanitarian aid for the victims.  Apparently, Merhav hadn’t heard of the pleasant, but fake town the Nazis built around the death camp at Theresienstadt to conceal the ugly things going on behind it.  Israel’s offer of assistance to Gazans is about as fake as a three-dollar bill.

Merhav called Israeli territorial concessions proposed during various peace talks “irresponsible” and a form of “national suicide.”  Of former Pres. Jimmy Carter, who called for the U.S. to recognize Hamas, he writes:

Once an anti-Semite, always an anti-Semite.

The only good Muslim for Merhav may not be a dead one, as Gen. Sheridan said of the Indians, but he definitely must be a Zionist. And Merhav has found at least two (count ‘em) such Muslims and fetes ‘em on his Facebook page.

He rejected Israel’s ceasefire with Hamas and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, because it was allegedly conducted “under fire” and would give the enemy the idea it could compel the IDF to retreat through resistance.

Merhav “likes” Im Tirzu on his Facebook page and highlights one of their articles calling the Nakba claim of Palestinians to refugee status, “a lie.”  I find it odd that an Israeli professor would support an organization whose primary mission is to destroy academic freedom on Israeli campuses in the name of  nationalist ideology.  Merhav would no doubt not have trouble limiting the freedom of “anti-Zionist” faculty, as long as it didn’t impinge on his ability to propound his racist views where and when he wished.

Can you imagine the poor Palestinian Technion student (the very few there are) who makes the mistake of walking into one of his courses? What hope does the poor slob have in the face of such abject, histrionic Arabophobia? And if you’re among the few leftists students enrolled at Technion, keep your mouth shut around Merhav otherwise he might drum you out of the place.  Invariably, people like Merhav will have one “Arab” who they’ve befriended or who’s taken a class with them.  This will prove that they are indeed decent human beings, like the American white liberal who said: “Some of my best friends are Negroes.”  But even if the professor can point to one such student, what would it say about such a Palestinian willing to take a course with a faculty member advocating the banishment of his people from Israel?

In another odd, but memorable Facebook post, he criticizes assisted-suicide for the terminally-ill saying:

I would decree a death sentence on anyone unjustifiably seeking to commit suicide.

Finally, let me add that I believe that professors are entitled to their opinions, no matter how odious they might be.  But to publicly express views containing such a high level of political and religious hate and extremism can’t help reflect on the reputation of the institution that employs him.  It’s one thing if he taught at Bar Ilan where such faculty racism is de rigeur.  But the Technion isn’t especially known as a bastion of settlerism and Islamophobia.  One has to wonder what some of its more moderate American Jewish donors would think of such extremism flaunted in such public settings.

Merhav is thought by some to be a bright young star in his academic field.  He probably brings in lots of grant funding and will be untouchable.  I doubt any of the campus leadership will even bring the subject of this post up to him.  That will also be a telling statement on the level of racism tolerated in Israeli academe.  To compare this sort of racism: imagine a U.S. professor advocating the forced expulsion of African-Americans from this country.  While no one would deny his academic freedom to make such a ludicrous statement, his employer would rush to dissociate itself from his views and be rid of him at the first opportunity.

I’m going to try to make it hard for Technion to avoid the subject.  I’d love it if you’d promote this post in the Technion Twitter and Facebook accounts/pages.  An e mail message sent to the president and dean of the Technion remains unanswered.

H/t Nabil Asbi.


UPDATE: Raymond Deane and Ronit Lentin responded to my queries about this story concerning tweets purportedly published by the Israeli embassy which insulted the Irish political leadership.  After I’d published, they noted that Oxygen.ie, where one report about this incident was published, is a student publication which sometimes publishes spoofs.  On further examination, I discovered that Oxygen removed the article (here’s the cached version) about the embassy tweets.

The responses by both Oxygen and the Israeli foreign ministry have been bizarre.  Instead of appending a statement to the article explaining what happened, it deleted the entire story.  And instead of explaining what happened in a way that might create sympathy for the embassy, the foreign ministry refused to make any public statement at all:

They seem to hope that by not responding at all they’ll avoid doing further damage to the reputation of the ambassador and his Madam LaFarge-like wife, the deputy ambassador In short, I think all parties have handled this incident in the worst possible way from the point of view of transparency and even their own interests.  Both responses have only furthered the mystery, rather than deconstructing it.  This Reddit thread in which multiple commenters claim to have seen similar tweets on the embassy Twitter feed confused things even more. I should note that the over-the-top hasbara tactics of Tinari-Modai gives itself over to parody.  In essence, the Israeli embassy is so over-the-top, that it has become a parody of Zionist propaganda.  It’s no surprise that Irish ironists would feast on the opportunity.  This passage from the Wikipedia article on Poe’s Law illustrates my point:

“Any sufficiently advanced troll is indistinguishable from a genuine kook.”

I couldn’t think of a better description of Israel’s ambassador-ambassadoress to Ireland. Here is one of the spoof tweets making fun of their Zio-lunacy: The tweets refers to deputy prime minister Joan Burton, and in Irish idiom, it claims that she’s an idiot and an ugly one at that.

UPDATE II: Oxygen.ie and the Israeli foreign ministry have now made public statements about this incident.  The latter’s point of view, carried in Ynet, ranged from histrionic to defensive.  It defended the Tinari-Modais as a couple who fought the good fight against Israel’s enemies.  Their truculence was seen as a positive rather than negative, as most Irish see it.  The reporter touts the fact that the ambassador raised the embassy’s number of Facebook Friends from a few hundred to 8,000.  What he neglects is that a considerable percentage are those who enjoy watching car wrecks as they happen and want to have a front row seat.  Not to mention a country that touts the success of its diplomatic efforts by the number of Facebook Friends it has, is a country that has no diplomatic strategy.

The ministry had this final word on the matter:

…The success of the embassy to penetrate hostile public opinion in Ireland through social networking motivated Israel’s adversaries to pursue a smear campaign and forge tweets in an attempt to sour relations between the two countries. “This is an ugly and very dangerous act,” that is likely to put the Israeli embassy in a difficult position, Foreign Ministry officials said.

While the claim that the embassy is in danger is ludicrous, the spoof does put the embassy in an even more difficult position than it was already in, thanks to its own Zio-zealotry.  This suggests the Oxygen satirist achieved his or her purpose.

*   *

I’ve written numerous times here of the the Macbeth and Lady Macbeth of the Israeli diplomatic corps, Boaz and Nurit Tinari-Modai, who’ve managed to anger and offend most of the Irish nation during their tenure.  Their mission in Ireland seems not to convey the views of their country in the way normal diplomats do; but rather to stick a needle in the eye of the Irish populace en masse.  It’s quite a performance.  In all the odd and sordid history of diplomatic appointments, this one plumbs new depths of bathos. This tweet published during Operation Protective Edge about sums up the orientation of these Goebbels-like propagandists. Some will note that I frown on references to Nazism in the rhetorical war between Israel and its critics. But given the disgusting inclusion of an image of Adolph Hitler himself in this tweet, I thought a reference to der Fuhrer’s propaganda chief was only fair.

nurit tinari modai

Nurit Tinari-Modai, Israel’s Madame La Farge sews frantically in Dublin to defeat anti-Israel delegitimization conspiracies.

A little added history may be in order about our hasbara-soaked Macbeths.  In 2007, when Boaz Modai was being promoted to a post as ambassador to the Vatican, a secretary who worked under him in the foreign ministry, made a police complaint that he made scores of harrassing phone calls to her home in the middle of the night.  He didn’t speak during the calls, but stayed on the line till he hung up.  In reply, Modai admitted making the calls, but claimed they were in retaliation for gossip the staff member spread about alleged affairs he’d conducted.  Despite a police investigation, he received this promotion to ambassador to Ireland, where he seems to be continuing his string of unwanted harassing advances.  But this time to the entire Irish population.

Lady Macbeth too has earned her notoriety: she once suggested (Hebrew) in a 2012 Israeli TV interview (English here), ‘blackening the reputations’ of Israeli pro-Palestine activists in Ireland; “attacking their soft underbelly” by publishing their names and pictures to cause embarrassment among their friends and family in Israel, and also to  raise doubt among Irish activists that they might be Mossad agents.  This sounds more like Mossad dirty tricks than legitimate diplomatic activity.  It’s a wonder Ireland hasn’t rendered them persona non grata.

She also contended that these Israelis were not acting out of ideological or political motivations, but because of confusion about their sexual identities (don’t ask me to explain that one).  Their actions arose from psychological motivations, like an inability to face the disappointment of their parents; or from a need to obtain an EU visa.  I bet you didn’t know these geniuses were also psychologists in addition to their day jobs as diplomats.


In the past, I’ve posted about the competition between two senior Shin Bet officers to become the next chief, replacing the current one, Yoram Cohen.  Though Israeli media cannot name these figures, I did quite some time ago.  Now Haaretz reporter, Sefi Rachlevsky, writing about the wasted opportunity the world presented Israel over the past year to secure its future in the Middle East, (obliquely) names the apparent winner of the competition:

At the end of Chinatown the slogan appears: “Do as little as possible.” Under Netanyahu, this has been the motto passed on the heads of Israel’s five operational arms: military, intelligence, Shin Bet, Mossad, police, and state prosecutor.  Don’t initiate.  Don’t act in the region.  Keep your head down.  Act only on technical matters.  The few within these agencies who are go-getters are people like R.–who’s been designated as the next Shin Bet chief.  This is someone beside whom [Col.] Ofer Winter looks quite moderate.  But the rest who aren’t [as] messianic, look to do as little as possible.

“R.” in this case is Roni Alsheikh, a former settler of Yemenite ethnic origin.  His nickname is “The Fox,” since he’s known for using wiles rather than brute force (though he’s been known to use that as well) in his security interrogations.  Like much of the senior leadership of all the security agencies, Alsheikh is Orthodox.  From the implications of this passage it appears his political views heartily endorse the settler enterprise.

You can see where this is going.  Israeli democracy, dying a slow death at the hands of the radical right will be strangled like a baby in its cradle by the incoming Shin Bet chief.  The witch hunts against Palestinians both inside Israel and in the Territories will escalate.  The Iron Hand will clench its fist even tighter.  Religious war, just now simmering in Jerusalem, will be brought to the boiling point.  Formerly marginal figures like Moshe Feiglin and Yehudah Glick will be given the run of the Temple Mount.  Al Aqsa will be sealed more often (yesterday was the first time since 1967 it was closed to Muslim worship).  Instead of stealing the homes of scores of East Jerusalem settlers, hundreds and thousands will be expelled by settler NGOs like Elad.

Alshkeikh is the paragon of the Yeats poem:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

idf orthodox jews

Haaretz highlights increasing Orthodox militancy of IDF officer corps.

Haaretz columnist, Amir Oren, warned of Orthodox settlerism taking over the intelligence services, particularly the Shin Bet:

Shin Bet’s leaders are recruiting and promoting in their own [Orthodox] image, and middle-level managers, therefore, see this as a model to emulate. The annual evaluation of Shin Bet employees now includes an arbitrary question, infuriating in its ambiguousness: Does the employee “act in accordance with a Zionist value system”? The Shin Bet is now filled with religious employees, much greater than their percentage in the population.  Religious women doing national civilian service receive priority over secular women soldiers for interesting intelligence posts, and many remain in the Shin Bet…

The headline of today’s Haaretz weekly magazine blares: “Will tomorrow’s soldiers be fighting for the sanctification of God’s name?”  It goes on to describe the increasing Orthodox militancy of the IDF officer corps and the troublesome dilemma it poses for Israeli society.

There is nothing strange about this.  Israel has grown progressively more right-wing Orthodox over the past decades.  The secularism that dominated society for the first decades of the state (till roughly 1967) has been subsumed by the rising tide and ideological fervor of the militant Orthodox.  This wave is unstoppable, at least through internal domestic means.

Roni Alsheikh represents the future.  So do other far-right politicians like Avigdor Lieberman, Moshe Feiglin and Danny Danon, who each covet the prime ministership.  These men are not ciphers like Netanyahu tends to be.  They are full of passionate intensity which is very likely to lead, as Yeats wrote, to this apocalyptic future:

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The question is: is the world prepared to stand by while “mere anarchy is loosed upon the world?”  Or will it step forward and take action?  Action that will be difficult to muster and controversial to undertake?  Will we continue to “lack conviction” as the center no longer holds?


ISIS, Terror and the Moral Hypocrisy of the West

*Thanks to Middle East Eye, which published an abridged version of this post here:

Over the past months, ISIS, which had been fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, changed tactics and swept east from Syria and conquered vast swaths of largely-Sunni territory in western Iraq.  In the process, it massacred thousands of Shiites, Kurds, Yazidis and other minorities in its path.

More recently, ISIS developed a new tactic which both riveted and horrified the world.  Gruesome videos of an ISIS executioner beheading westerners kidnapped in the violence of the Syrian civil war have swept social and mainstream media.  These radical Islamists are odious.  They ought to be, and have been rejected by the world, including Sunni Muslims themselves.

But there has been a strange transformation in the western attitude toward the Islamist group: when it was slaughtering Arabs and sweeping across hundreds of miles of Iraqi desert, we paid little heed.  Yes, there were expressions of concern and security officials debated about the failure of the U.S. strategy to prop up a dysfunctional Iraqi government whose army wilted in the face of ISIS.  But there were no calls to arms.  No vast mobilization of international will to address the threat.

That only resulted from what, for ISIS, was a brilliant media tactic—airing and disseminating the executions of westerners via social media.  When one of our own was beheaded before our very eyes, then ISIS became something it hadn’t been while it was confining itself to killing Arabs: it became evil personified, an enemy of western civilization, a force that must be exterminated.  What had been merely a menace when it practically conquered an entire country (Iraq), became Satan himself when it killed three westerners.  As a result, we mounted an international campaign costing over $400-million so far to roll back ISIS.

Less than a year before, in the midst of the Syrian civil war, foreign powers were falling all over themselves to fund and arm ISIS, the Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda offshoots.  The Gulf States led the charge.  Saudi power-prince Bandar ibn Sultan, who was its intelligence chief at the time, provided the radical Sunni fighters with hundreds of millions, if not billions, as Yossi Melman notes:

…Myopia…afflicted Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – all allies of the United States, driven by hatred for…The governments of these countries either turned a blind eye to the burgeoning Al-Qaida branches, or even encouraged charity organizations and influential sheikhs to fund or provide religious support for the anti-Shi’ite struggle by Al-Qaida.

The Saudi architect of this policy was Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former ambassador to the US and until a few years ago chief of Saudi intelligence and its national security adviser. Approximately one year ago, when the Saudi royal family realized that it had helped create this uncontrolled monster, Prince Bandar was forced to step down – though his deteriorating health was given as the official reason for his resignation.

At one point, Bandar even secretly visited Israel to coordinate Saudi intelligence operations in Syria, Iran and elsewhere with his Israeli intelligence counterparts.

In other words, we helped make ISIS the monster it is.  But once it escaped the bonds we created and began wreaking havoc like a golem, then we forget it was us who created it.

Drone War on the Muslim World

Our drone counter-terror strategy too has elicited outrage throughout the region.  In our fervor to root out Al Qaeda, we’ve killed over 3,000 Muslims in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  We are universally condemned for this.  It only makes our purported enemies stronger, offering them an immensely attractive recruitment tool.  But what do the drone killings offer us?  Only 4% of the dead are actual Al Qaeda militants.   Most of the rest are civilians caught in the crossfire.  What is it accomplishing?

And why is our rage for vengeance against ISIS pure and noble while the Muslim counter-reaction is bestial and uncivilized?

Let’s also not forget the millions of Iraqis and Afghanis killed during our invasions and occupations of their respective countries.  Though some may claim there were important principles we were defending, it becomes clearer with each passing day that whatever those principles may’ve been, our expenditure in blood and treasure was for naught.  Iraq is closer than ever to ethnic dissolution and God only knows what’s in store for Afghanistan as the Taliban becomes even stronger and challenges our allies there.

Do we believe the citizens of these countries will forgive and forget what we did there?  Or that Muslims the world over will do the same?

Terror in Gaza

When Palestinian militants kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers a few months ago, Israel sent 10,000 soldiers to find them and track down the killers. This operation turned into a massive pogrom: 7 Palestinians were killed in protests, 500 were arrested, most having nothing to with the crime. Thousands of private homes were ransacked by the invading troops.

In a revenge attack, Israeli settlement youths kidnapped a 16 year-old East Jerusalem Palestinian.  They beat him senseless with a tire iron, poured gasoline on his body and down his throat, and set him on fire.  Though the killers were arrested and are being tried, and Israeli Jews expressed almost universal outrage, there was no mass movement to suppress the radical settler ideology that spawned this murder.  Because that ideology is a powerful and mainstream political phenomenon in Israel.  To do the right thing, Israel would’ve had to cut off its own right hand.

Israel’s mass violence in the West Bank spurred Hamas to launch rockets in solidarity against southern Israel.   Though the aerial assault sent hundreds of thousands of Israelis into air raid shelters, the Palestinian ordnance caused only minor property damage.

Israel’s response was to “go nuclear.”  Or, as they say in colloquial Hebrew, “the landlord went nuts.”  It invaded Gaza, beginning a 50-day war that took 2,100 Gazan lives including 500 children. 70 Israelis died, almost all invading troops.

This slaughter was for the sake of 3 Israeli dead.   I am not saying those Israeli lives were not precious. Nor justifying the kidnapping and murder. But why are 3 Israeli lives worth 2,100 Palestinian?  If the world shares Israel’s outrage at the teenagers’ deaths, why not the 500 Gazan kids?  If killing three is terror, why is killing 2,100 not?

Terror in Jerusalem

A few days ago, a Palestinian from Silwan drove his car onto the tracks at an East Jerusalem light rail station killing a three-month old baby and young Israeli woman.  The crime, for which Hamas acknowledged responsibility, was horrible, even inexcusable…until you consider the pain of 500 mothers and father who lost their children last summer in Gaza.  Inexcusable until you consider the settlers of Elad and Ateret Cohanim who have stolen the homes of hundreds of Silwan residents through subterfuge and fraud in an attempt to Judaize the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods.  Inexcusable until you consider Israeli Border Police this week assaulting the sacred precincts of the Haram al Sharif and filling its hall with the stench and explosion of tear gas canisters.  In fact, the Palestinian wrote a Facebook post a few days before the attack which featured a picture of Al Aqsa in flames with the caption “Al Aqsa in danger.”

yehudah glick

Yehudah Glick, settler activist seeking to rebuild Temple, who was severely wounded yesterday in possible Jerusalem assassination attempt.

Even after you consider such provocations, many will still find the murder of a three-month old baby inexcusable.  My point is to remember that terrorism doesn’t arise from a vacuum.  A single terror attack always has a context.  That the death of one three month old baby was preceded by the prior deaths of many other babies.  And that all the babies’ suffering should be treated with the same gravity.  And terror always leads to more terror.

yehudah glick third temple

Yehudah Glick displays image of Third Temple, to be built on ruins of Dome of the Rock

In the past few hours, Yehuda Glick, an Israeli settler activist who advocated building the Third Temple and destroying the Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount, was severely injured in a potential assassination attempt.  If Bibi Netanyahu and his settler allies want to rebuild the Holy Temple and destroy Muslim holy sites, there is a price that will be paid.  This is just the start of it, I’m afraid.

For anyone arguing that such Israeli views are on the fringe, I remind you that Moshe Feiglin, a Kahanist and deputy Knesset speaker, supports destroying the Dome of the Rock and rebuilding the Temple.  And the Bayit Yehudi MK candidate, Jeremy Gimpel, told a U.S. Christian evangelical church audience that the Dome of the Rock must be destroyed.  One may argue that in the context of another country, such views are those of crackpots and not to be taken seriously.  But in Israel, crackpots have a habit of becoming prime ministers and generals.  Words are taken as deeds.  And deeds kill.

Glick and Gimpel’s origins in the bowels of right-wing American Orthodoxy remind us the nerve toxin that it has injected into the Israeli body politic.  Think of the American settler-terrorists who’ve played such a formative role not just in the settler movement, but in the consciousness of latter-day Israel: Jack Teitel, Meir Kahane, Baruch Goldstein. Naftali Bennett is a more polished version of these as leader of the Bayit Yehudi party, but the legacy he brings to Israeli politics is no less toxic.

Several hours after the assassination attempt, the Border Police, Israel’s crack thug-assassins murdered a suspect in the attack in his East Jerusalem home.  They said, as they always do in these circumstances, that the suspect fired first, and Israeli forces were forced to return fire, killing him.  We know what we think of this explanation.  If the IDF is willing to kill its own to prevent their capture by Hamas, do you think security forces would have any hesitation liquidating terror suspects?

While speaking of Israel and Hamas, let’s recall that the original rapid growth of the Islamic movement was facilitated and encouraged by Israeli intelligence.  Just as the CIA exploited the mujahedeen in the U.S. Cold War battle with the Soviet Union, so Israel took advantage of the new Islamic group in its battle against Arafat’s secularist Fatah.  How quickly we forget, that in our hubris to promote our own interests, the monsters we create may, like Frankenstein, turn on their creators.

Returning to this past summer’s war, what did the world do in the midst of the carnage?  Our State Department and virtually every other western government expressed shock and outrage at the Hamas rockets, but none at the massive killings by the IDF.  Gaza today looks like Dresden after it was levelled by U.S. bombers during World War II.  Yet does anyone actually believe those generals who ordered the slaughter during Protective Edge will face the justice Nazi generals faced at Nuremberg?  Or will they face no judgment, as the British and American generals who killed tens of thousands of Germans in the Dresden fireball?

In other words, there is a massive double standard here.  Western lives are worth outrage.  They are worth mounting a massive military campaign to oust ISIS.  Muslim lives?  Not so much.

anat rimon or

Anat Rimon Or’s Yom Kippur “dvar Torah” on ISIS and the price paid by the west for terror

An Israeli Joan of Arc

In a related matter, an Israeli professor of education, Anat Rimon-Or, wrote a Facebook post about the hypocrisy of western attitudes toward ISIS.  In it, she expressed some ideas similar to those here.  She even goes farther and claims “heretically” that there is even a spark of the human in ISIS:

ISIL has been defined [by the world] as an enemy with demonic qualities representing nothing more than urge to kill and murder. Like Hamas before it, in July-August of this year [Operation Protective Edge].  It’s necessary to explode this image of the murderous demon, because it has no connection to the [Palestinian] people or organizations to which it is attached. Its sole purpose is to legitimize unjust murder [of Islamists like Hamas or ISIS]. It’s even possible that we’re speaking of a people or the organization that is very cruel.  But it isn’t the cruelty that creates the demonic image but the [western] intention to exterminate.  This is true regarding Jews, Hamas, or ISIL.

That is why we need to battle against image of the murderous demon. We have to find, behind it, the human utterance, which is always there (even if the organization, for its own reasons, conceals it well), and to point to it as a basis for an agreement that will stop the bloodshed.

Rimon-Or also suggests that instead of liquidating ISIS, the U.S. should pay reparations to the Iraqi people for the decade worth of suffering & mayhem we inflicted on them.  She implies that without such mass violence and our invasion, there might not even be an ISIS to fight.

Controversial, perhaps.  But the avalanche of hate that befell her was unprecedented even in the trash-talking political culture that is Israel.  Right-wing columnist, Ben Dror Yemini, called her a “mad professor.”  There were calls for her firing from Beit Berl College, where she teaches education.  On TV, an interviewer was so aghast at her views that he talked over her for the entire interview, refusing to allow her to complete a coherent thought.  I imagine this was the way the English viewed Joan of Arc before they burned her at the stake: as a radical, troublemaker, enemy of the State, even a terrorist.

So many Facebook users reported Rimon-Or’s post that Facebook censored and removed it.  It’s preserved here (in Hebrew).

The nature of political debate is much harsher in Israel than outside.  The political climate is intensely nationalistic, chauvinistic, and violent.  The room for diverse views is increasingly narrow.  Those even moderately outside the rightist mainstream are violently assaulted or intimidated both in social media and by police and hooligans during protests on the streets.

Israel is the canary in the coal mine.  If we are not careful, our own societies will become as racist, violent and intolerant as Israel is.  Just as drones, racial profiling and similar counter-terror methods got their start there and were transferred to the west, so may this murderous hatred not just for Islam, but for any person or idea deemed “other.”

H/t to Richard Flantz and John Brown for Rimon-Or story.