86 thoughts on “Ben Gurion President Calls University ‘Zionist,’ Accuses Gordon of ‘Treason’ – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I don’t see any evidence in this post that supports its headline. She observes – correctly I assume – that Gordon’s views are “perceived by many readers as an act of treason.” But is she herself accusing him of treason?

    1. Why does she use the term “treason” at all? I’m sorry but you’re being disingenuous. If she didn’t want to raise the specter of “treason” she would not have referred to it. She did because she wanted her audience to know that she had no real problem with others using the term. And were she not the president she would use the term herself & attribute it to herself.

      How about accusing Gordon of hatred of the state? Or is that too strong an accusation for you?

      What she wrote was despicable & anyone who tries to lighten the ignominy of it is doing decency an injustice.

    2. “The coward does it with a kiss,
      The brave man with a sword!”

      Obviously she’s no man, but she is a pussy-footing coward who apparently believes in limited free speech and should therefore be demoted from her present position to that of UTO – University Toilet Overseer.

  2. Let me get this right: in the name of academic freedom Neve Gordon has the right to call for BDS, but Rivka Carmi doesn’t have the right in the name of academic freedom to criticise that in vituperative terms? Or are you merely disagreeing with her; just like she’s merely been disagreeing with him? This is what I mean when I talk about double standards. I don’t think either of them have gone beyond the pale of discourse.

    1. No of course she doesn’t. She has no right to use words like “traitor” which have gotten Israeli prime ministers assassinated. She has no right to claim that he hates Israel as she has done. That is impermissible language from a supposed academic leader. Fr. Lieberman it’s what we’ve come to expect and worse. But not from a university president.

      Of course I disagree with her. But that’s not the point. As Stephen Walt has pointed out in his terrific post about this, she has every right to disagree & disagree strongly with Gordon’s views. That’s what academia is all about after all. But she NO RIGHT to use terms of incitement as she has. She is not merely disagreeing with him as you so disingenuously claim. Her language is far beyond “mere disagreement.”

      I have asked you privately to stop using stale meaningless terms like “double standards.” Yet you persist (this must be the 50th time here). Find other slogans to use but stop using that one.

      How ’bout those BGU donors who are also calling for a boycott of the university’s fundraising?

      1. “Stale meaningless terms like double standards”.

        In asking that, you are asking to censor. Alex writes respectfully and substantively.

        He is not you. He doesn’t share your opinions. His language is his own language. Thats ok. Please practice what you preach about discussion.

        Carmi used the term “is perceived by many readers as an act of treason against the state of Israel”.

        “Is perceived”. Maybe you can infer that that is her language, maybe the oppossite.

          1. Witty, you know what he means. It’s a personal point of contention between the two. You’re just instigating and fanning the flames between them.

            Anyone who watches any 1980s teen movie could understand what you were doing instantly. Maybe he shouldn’t have said ‘butt out’ but I think you would have still interjected.

      2. It’s rather ironic for you to criticise perceived opposition to academic freedom and then to ask me not to use the words ‘double standard’, but then again irony has never been your strong point. In the past, you’ve asked me to be clearer when I use the term: in this case I’ve been very clear; you (rightly) say Gordon must have the freedom to say his piece about BDS, but you don’t seem to want to extend that right to the president of his university. When I perceive double standards I will continue to call them out. If you feel the term should be banned from here, I suggest you add that to the comment rules (although please do so with due sense of irony).

        I don’t accept that accusing someone of treason in and of itself is incitement to murder, and although it’s clear that right-wing incitement played a massive role in the assassination of Rabin, that does not mean that it’s suddenly impermissible to call someone a traitor (sit with me in a TA bar and you’ll catch me saying it about settlers from time to time).

        I don’t know what you mean by your final point, other than it’s amusing and ironic, in the sense that they are supporting Gordon’s call, which is – whatever you might say – for people to divest from Israeli universities. The PACBI guidelines are very clear on this.

        1. Alex, do you seriously not see the difference between an employee of a university writing an op ed, and the President of a university making an official statement as President of that university? There is no double standard in a case like this.

          And do you honestly not see the difference between you applying the word treason to settlers during a conversation at a bar, and the President of a university, speaking in her official capacity, applying that term to an employee of the university?

          As for the PACBI guidelines, you have demonstrated already that you have chosen to misinterpret them in a rather self-serving way.

          1. I don’t accept Richard’s argument that a university president shouldn’t formally express her opposition to one of the professors of her (and his) university calling on donors to withdraw their support, no.

            For there to be any possibility of rapprochement in the world, some sort of universal principles has to apply. By which I mean that not all our standards can be politically dependent. If it’s incitement to call Rabin a traitor then it’s incitement to call a settler one as well.

            If by self-serving you mean describing them exactly as they are, then I plead guilty.

          2. Then you clearly do not understand the job of a university president. And we are not talking about politics, we are talking about a person doing the job they are being paid to do.

            As for your universal principles argument, it doesn’t fly in the real world. Context must always be taken into consideration, especially in the matter of incitement. The exact same statement could be incitement in some contexts and not in others.

          3. If you’re absolutely sure about the role of a university president in Israel, then fair enough. I don’t know enough about it; if she’s not meant to express her opinions so robustly then she shouldn’t do so, although I wouldn’t have a problem with it otherwise.

            Regarding your second paragraph, that’s a purely political judgement. Essentially you’re saying you should have the right to call settlers traitors but they should not have the right to call Rabin one. I don’t think that works.

          4. I think it has been made clear enough enough times by enough people that this is not about her merely “expressing her opinions robustly”, so please stop trying to spin what others are saying to suit your argument.

            Regarding my second paragraph, there is nothing political about it, and I think it should be clear that this is about the context, not the subject of the remark or epithet. To use a classic example that hopefully you will not be able to spin as political, free speech allows me to yell “fire” in some contexts and not others. Free speech allows me to joke that I am carrying a bomb in some contexts and not others. Incitement is very much a matter of context, irrespective of the subject. That is the point.

          5. Alex made a distinction in his definition of a University President by saying, “in Israel.”

            A Univ. President shouldn’t be making politically charged statements like the one in question did.

            She is begging the question. It’s OBVIOUS that she wouldn’t say anything unless she too thought Gordon was a traitor.

            I think she has the right to say w/e. But this is not about RIGHT to blah blah.

            This is about tact and social pressure. It cuts both ways.

            I think the social pressure in Israel is such that this type of commentary from an official is to be expected.

        2. you don’t seem to want to extend that right to the president of his university.

          That is a lie. I say “lie” because in my previous reply to you I specifically say that she has every right to present her pt of view opposing his statement. How can I be any more clear? But she goes much farther. She tells him to quit the university and leave the country. She calls him a traitor. She says he seeks to destroy the nation. Do you not understand how much farther that language is fr. mere opposition? Sometimes you are just willfully obtuse, Alex. And sometimes I think it’s just for the sake of…what? I don’t know what? What’s the pt of refusing to read something addressed specifically to you & then writing as if I hadn’t written it?

          I don’t accept that accusing someone of treason in and of itself is incitement to murder

          Do you not remember a certain incident involving a certain Yigal Amir? Or how about the incitement that led to bombing Zeev Sternhell’s home (a crime never solved by the crackerjack Israeli police force btw). Anytime anyone in Israel uses the term “treason” in a political context it is an incitement to murder. There are far too many examples of such language leading to violent attacks to argue this pt.

          they are supporting Gordon’s call, which is – whatever you might say – for people to divest from Israeli universities.

          What a fatuous and inane comment. Really, is that the best you can offer?

          1. Re. first paragraph – apologies if I misunderstood you.

            I’m not being wilfully obtuse; While I disagree with her, I genuinely don’t agree that it’s excessive language, and it’s certainly no more excessive than much of the stuff I see here.

            “Anytime anyone in Israel uses the term “treason” in a political context it is an incitement to murder.” Would you say this to someone who called a settler a traitor?

            I don’t know what’s fatuous and inane about it; it’s exactly what’s happening. In any case, this could be avoided if you would be clearer about exactly what you were asking me in the first place.

            PS I don’t know why you have to comment on Witty’s intervention; he has every right to get involved in this discussion.

          2. Would you say this to someone who called a settler a traitor?

            I don’t call settlers traitor. Besides there are no Israelis attempting to kill settlers, so it’s a moot pt.

            You have the right to guide discourse at yr blog & I have that right here. You’ve made some mistakes (in my opinion) in the past by allowing others to fight yr battles for you publicly. I would think you wouldn’t need anyone to do that for you now either. I don’t want his involvement in this, period.

          3. I never said you did call settlers traitors. It’s not a moot point because we’re trying to see if your standards apply to those you disagree with or not. That’s important for assessing integrity. So please will you answer the question.

            I know what you’re referring to, and I’ve never got someone to fight my battles in the past, but we’ve covered all that already.

            As for my blog, I am officially taking it out of commission next week.

          4. So please will you answer the question.

            The question of the settlers & their relationship to the State is quite complicated. Clearly, the radical settlers do not respect the secular State of Israel & propose to replace it with a theocratic/halachic Jewish kingdom of some sort. I think they are very dangerous people. But if I thought that my calling them a “traitor” would cause others to target them for violent attack or murder, I would think long & hard about it. I largely don’t think in terms of people being traitors whoever they might be. Too many people whose politics I admire have been called traitor (as have I myself) for this epithet to carry much weight.

            You & I both know that Seth Freedman wrote a CiF column attempting to savage me due to conversations you had with him. I had previously never exchanged a cross word with him. In fact, the opposite was the case. I held him in quite high regard. No longer. Personally, I think what you did is cowardly & passive aggressive. You helped poison my relationship w. him though of course he was a willing participant & had just as much responsibility (more actually since he wrote the column) as you.

          5. It’s strange that you didn’t write, “Because there are no Israelis attempting to kill Neve Gordon, so it’s a moot point,” but not surprising.

            Re. Seth – As I explained at the time, I used to give him ideas of things to write about (less so now); he thought it was an interesting topic. That does not equate to getting someone else to fight my battles.

          6. Do you think after the bombing attack on Zeev Sternhell, who, like Neve. is a distinguished university professor adamantly opposed to the Occupation, that I can in good conscience say that no Israeli settler would want to kill Neve Gordon? Honestly, you’re clearly an intelligent person. Did you not read the reference I made to Sternhell in a comment I published yesterday? Did you not think that there might be a connection & similarities bet. these 2 individuals? Personally, I think that any well known anti Occupation activist in Israel under the right circumstances could be a victim of extreme violence.

            You can say what you want about Seth’s attack on me. The truth is that you & I had had a very contentious exchange around that time & the next thing I know someone w. whom I had had a very positive relationship was excoriating me in the Guardian, a paper where I too publish. He is your best friend. Either he took this task on because you were angry at me or because he was angry on yr behalf. That column was payback of some sort for one of you or the other.

  3. Prof. Shlomo Sand of Tel Aviv University has published a scathing attack on Pres. Carmi’s rhetoric in Yediot Achronot (Hebrew only). In it, he reveals that Carmi called Ben Gurion University:

    …A Zionist institution which realizes the vision of David Ben Gurion on a daily basis advancing the development of the Negev and the State of Israel.

    Doesn’t her comment make Gordon’s point that BG and other universities are complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians?

  4. A university president does not actually have academic freedom. That is a privilege reserved for tenured professors– the idea that saying what you what, publishing what you want, researching what you want cannot result in a loss of a job.

    She does have the freedom of speech that Israel grants citizens under the law, but intemperate speech that interferes with ones ability to perform a job is grounds for being fired.

    Karmi’s role, as an administrator, is to defend her university and her professors. By publicaly calling out Gordon, she is creating a hostile environment for him at his place of work and encouraging his colleagues to think of him as the reason they can’t get funding.

  5. I don’t see a problem with an institution being Zionist. This has indeed nothing to do with the subjects themselves or individual students, but the institution’s recognised character and support. Similarly there are many schools associated with other religions and beliefs (e.g. countless catholic universities) around the world. Being Zionist is not a dirty word.

    1. This has indeed nothing to do with the subjects themselves

      Of course it has everything to do with the subjects themselves. Acc. to Rivka Carmi, political science at BGU cannot include certain subjects deemed taboo by some imaginary Zionist consensus. Like Communist science this is called Zionist [political] science. And the latter will be just as disastrous as the former was for real science.

      there are many schools associated with other religions and beliefs

      I’m not sure what you mean about schools associated with “beliefs” as I can’t think of any. But I wonder whether you’re equating Zionism w. a “religion.” If so, that’s an interesting & suggestive idea. Chilling, but suggestive nonetheless.

      I remind you that BGU is a public university within the state of Israel. It is supposed to represent the nation, not an ideology. Unless you wish to say that Israel & ZIonism are the same thing, which they patently are not or at least should not be. I studied several yrs at the Hebrew Univ. & have followed university life in Israel for many yrs. & I have never heard them called “Zionist.” That’s really a new one on me. And if that is what BGU’s president wishes her school to be then it is a new low in Israeli academic life.

      1. If we agree that the principles of Zionism are as declared by the 28th Zionist Congress meeting in Jerusalem 1968 (adopted as aims of Zionism today), then these are:

        1. The unity of the Jewish People and the centrality of Israel in Jewish life;
        2. The ingathering of the Jewish People in its historic homeland, Eretz Israel, through Aliyah from all countries;
        3. The strengthening of the State of Israel which is based on the prophetic vision of justice and peace:
        4. The preservation of the identity of the Jewish People through the fostering of Jewish and Hebrew education and of Jewish spiritual and cultural values;
        5. The protection of Jewish rights everywhere.

        1 – still an israeli aim as the only jewish state in the world.
        2 – Due to being the only jewish state, there could be no oppposition to this.
        3- something to work and hope towards – affecting all in the country.
        4- As practiced in Israeli universities
        5 – related again to being the only jewish state.

        These are all about preservation of jewish identity and the state of Israel representing it. There is nothing there about treating other cultures badly, or not being open to discussion of political sciences. Having these values in the idiology of the university is very different from coercing any individual to believing in these.

        However, I think it is legitimate for an institution to cease employment of an individual calling for its boycott and posing a threat to serious academics, and trying to put the country in danger. His aims were to use his power to convince other countries to isolate the very country the supports him, affecting everyone’s lives in it. The way I see it, he has started a political campaign that goes beyond mere discussion and free speech, at an extremist level against the sustaining of the state of israel, that an israeli university cannot and should not endorse. There is certainly no reason for Israelis to continue funding the professorship of someone who is attempting to destroy them economically. He did not want to express his views and to try to convince others, but rather to use other countries to -coerce- Israel to follow his views. This is no free speech but a very different regime…

        1. A zoch in vay…did you have to make our eyes glaze over by quoting the principles of Zionism of the 28th Zionist Congress? What are you, a hasbaranik? Pls. don’t do this again & read my comment rules for Pete’s sake. No long-winded lists of dry academic pts which no one except yrself is interested in.

          Luckily, Israeli law doesn’t care what you think. This is a decided matter & no Israeli university can fire a tenured professor unless the cause is something far more egregious than publishing an unpopular idea. Since when does the boycott “put the country in danger?” There was a S.A. boycott, did it put S.A. in danger? Does the nation no longer exist? Was it damaged or destroyed somehow & I didn’t notice??

          the very country the supports him,

          I don’t see you or many other Israelis “supporting” him. So we’ll rule this claim of yrs feeble.

          he has started a political campaign

          Wrong again. Neve Gordon has started nothing. The BDS campaign has existed for several yrs & was started by Palestinians & international peace activists, not Neve Gordon.

          at an extremist level against the sustaining of the state of israel,

          Once again you’ve effectively called him a traitor, which is pejorative argument I don’t allow in this blog. If you want to dispute Gordon’s views you’ll have to use diff. arguments & language than the cheap shot grandstanding of calling him a traitor. Carmi can get away with that because she’s BGU’s pres. YOu’re not. In fact, you’re a guest here at this blog. So follow the rules here.

          someone who is attempting to destroy them economically.

          Once again, can you show me any evidence that any political boycott campaign against S.A. or anyone else has “destroyed the nation economically?”

          YOurs are quite feeble arguments. I only wish you could be more persuasive since there may be legitimate arguments on behalf of the anti-Gordon camp. YOu’re certainly not expressing them.

    2. I don’t see a problem with an institution being Zionist…there are many schools associated with other religions and beliefs (e.g. countless catholic universities) around the world.

      And those are private universities. It is my understanding that BGU is a state-run public university, not a private one. Furthermore, private universities are held to and evaluated by the same academic standards as any other university, including the requirement for academic freedom. That is one reason that Bob Jones University, for example, is looked down upon as an academic institution and, say, Notre Dame is highly regarded.

    3. PS Zionism, the movement that led to the creation of the State of Israel, is not a religious belief, it is a political movement.

  6. More proof that Carmi either doesn’t have a clue about what academic freedom means, or just does’t care:

    The University stated that the issue of Dr. Gordon’s future as head of the Political Science Department is still being examined and no decision has been reached. University President Professor Rebecca Carmi told Ynet, “The demand for his resignation is legitimate and I hope that after this tough week he will reach the right decision.”

    The quotes of support for Gordon from colleagues and students show that at least some understand what academic freedom is all about.

    From Ynet: University urges lecturer who endorsed boycott to resig

  7. Alex made a distinction in his definition of a University President by saying, ‘in Israel.’

    Yes, he did, which is really quite interesting. What he is revealing here, of course, is the view that Israel is a country apart, a country that should not be held to the same academic standards as the rest of the world. Not surprising at all, really, since Israel is a rogue state in most other respects as well.

    1. There’s nothing revealing about it all. It just might be that in Israel university presidents are free to disagree vehemently with other academics at their university.

      1. On the contrary, Alex, it is yet another example of Israel refusing to adhere to standards that other countries are expected to adhere to. In fact, ironically it is yet another example of Israel refusing to adhere to the standards it demands of others, but not of itself.

          1. Alex, where did I say there was a universal standard regarding the job description of a university president?

            A bit desperate, isn’t it, to put words into your interlocutor’s mouth in order to try to make your argument look better?

          2. This is very wearing, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt. What, then, is the example of Israel refusing to adhere to a standard that other countries are expected to adhere to?

          3. You’re kidding, right?

            Have you read the United Nations Charter? The Fourth Geneva Convention? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights? The Convention of the Rights of the Child? The Convention Against Torture? UN Security Council Resolution 242, to name only one of many? Those are just the examples I can come up with off the top of my head. The rest of the world is expected to adhere to the principles laid down in those instruments if they are to be respected as modern, civilized countries and members of the world community. Israel has signed each of those instruments, and demands that other countries adhere to them while itself violating them in fact and in principle every minute of every day day of ever week of every year.

            Academic freedom is another generally recognized standard that educational institutions are expected to adhere to in the modern, civilized world, and that BGU and its President are certainly refusing to adhere to in the current case, apparently with your whole-hearted support.

          4. Shirin, far be it from me to do Richard’s job of trying to keep things on topic, but I thought we were solely talking about the issue of whether there was something irregular about Professor Carmi taking Neve Gordon to task for his support of BDS of the university that employs him. So I’ll stick to that issue.

            As for the “whole-hearted support”, I simply defend the right of both Carmi and Gordon to give their views on the issue of BDS. Personally I think Gordon has every right to support BDS from Ben-Gurion University (although I do not support BDS myself). And although I disagree with Carmi’s opposition, I don’t see why such a fuss is being made of her expressing her views.

      2. You mean like Zvi Galil of Tel Aviv Univ. who vehemently disagreed with a paper written by a Palestinian Arab grad student about Global BDS, but who nonetheless strongly supported the student’s right to submit the paper for his degree requirements?

          1. This is getting tedious. What I’ve been arguing for is Carmi’s right, as president of BGU, to say the things she’s said about Gordon.

          2. You can’t argue that you support Galil’s approach AND Carmi’s since they are diametrically opposed. Galil did not call Omar Barghouti a traitor nor did he expel him fr. the University as Carmi has proposed. If you try to have it both ways yr approach will be seen as bankrupt waffling.

          3. Richard – I agree with Galil’s approach; I defend Carmi’s right to her approach even though I largely disagree with it. What is difficult to understand about that?

          4. Who are you fooling? That’s sophistry & I simply can’t respect yr dancing around the issue like this. If you approve of her approach, say so. If you don’t, say so. If you expect us to read yr mind, you’ll be disappointed. We’re not clairvoyant. When you attack me and those of us who have harshly criticized Carmi’s demagoguery then we will assume you support her. If you don’t, you’ll have to tell us so–& a little earlier in the discussion would help.

          5. I’m not dancing around the issue: I thought we were discussing whether Carmi had a right, in her capacity as president of BGU, to say the things she said about Gordon. That is not connected to whether or not we agree with what she said, anymore than a discussion over whether Gordon had a right, in his capacity as a lecturer at BGU, to write an article defending BDS.

          6. I certainly never suggested I agreed with it.

            Do you have ANY idea at all how lame that sounds? You sound as if you finally realized that you have been backed into a corner, and are trying to weasel your way out of it.

          7. I have not been backed into a corner. At no stage have I expressed any support for Carmi’s position whatsoever. Unless you can prove the contrary, your charge is redundant.

          8. Oh dear! I am mortally wounded by your incredibly cogent – and grown up – argument. I surrender. You win.

          9. I’ll ignore the sarcasm. It’s very simple: all you need to do is find a single example of me expressing agreement with Carmi’s position. I don’t believe you haven’t looked, so it would be nice for you to acknowledge that I didn’t do it, although I’m not holding my breath. Integrity doesn’t seem to be your strong point.

          10. I think your latest statements about Carmi are pathetic. You’re so eager for a fight that you engage us on any issue w/o even bothering to check whether you actually agree with us or not before you begin arguing. Why did you never bother to say earlier in the discussion: “I don’t much like Carmi’s approach but…” It would’ve gone a long way toward making yr views more clear.

            But I also want to say that I welcome your opposition to her position regarding Gordon.

  8. Alex: Shirin, far be it from me to do Richard’s job of trying to keep things on topic…

    You asked me for examples of Israel violating standards that other countries are expected to adhere to, and I answered you.

    Alex: “I simply defend the right of both Carmi and Gordon to give their views on the issue of BDS.”

    But that is not what Carmi did. If she had given her views on BDS I am quite sure we would not even be having this conversation.

    1. OK, then, she expressed her views in a personalised way vis-a-vis Neve Gordon. Again, I think she should have every right to do that, even if the tone of the attack would not have been the style I would have employed.

      1. Wrong again. She made extremely inflammatory personal statements about a tenured professor at her university, and she did so in an official context. And in an official context she not only invited him to resign, she invited him to leave the country. If that was not a violation of academic freedom Israel-style, then Israel does not abide by the standards that are demanded of academic institutions in other modern, civilized countries.

        1. Ah, back to where we started. So I’ll ask again – where do you get this idea that “modern, civilised countries” have a singular idea regarding what a university president can or cannot say in response to a professor who calls for a boycott of their university?

          1. That has already been covered more than adequately in the main post, and several of the comments.

  9. Gordon is one of a tiny handful of Israelis who can even be described as human. It’s better if he leaves, as most Jews of character like Ilan Pappe already have. Gordon’s life is in grave danger in Israel and as he himself acknowledges, the chances of transforming Israel from within are zero.

    1. I almost unsubscribed to this blog before realizing that “Richard” is not “Richard Silverstein.” What a hateful and narrow-minding posting. I would expect the host to note that such dehumanization of Israelis has no place on a site named Tikkun Olam…

          1. In what respect, Shirin? I think the piece deserves a Pulitzer or its equivalent. This is absolutely riveting stuff. I find it incredible that the most virulent anti-Semite could never concoct a scenario to paint Israelis in a worse light than actual facts manage to do.

          2. Well, I guess one person’ “riveting” is another person’s “this is not worth the time it takes to read it all the way through”.

            It starts with this (emphasis added): “…Israelis may have been harvesting internal organs from Palestinian prisoners without consent for many years.May have been. That alone is enough, since the very first sentence says that it is all speculation, not “actual fact”. When there is some real evidence, I will pay attention. Until then, it is barely of any interest at all.

            And then in the very next paragraph: “…some of the information reported in the article suggests that in some instances Palestinians may have been captured with this macabre purpose in mind.” “Suggests” and “may have been”. More speculation, not facts.

            And the third paragraph “Palestinians harbor strong suspicions against Israel“? Nothing real there either.

            Then the first big “bombshell”, the old story about Israel’s first heart transplant. Apparently, Israeli law allows organs to be harvested from dead and clinically dead patients without the families’ consent. Bad law, so change the law, but there is nothing here to give substance to the claim that they are arresting Palestinians and killing them for their organs, or even taking organs from dead Palestinians.

            Then there is the “widespread anxiety over organ thefts”. “There are indications that…organs, especially eyes and kidneys, were removed from the bodies…” And what, specifically, were those “indications”? Why, “There were just too many reports by credible people…“. Not a word about who those “credible people” were, or what the “reports” consisted of or were based on. And then there is this from the source article, and not quoted in Allison’s article” “If someone is shot in the head and comes home in a plastic bag without internal organs, what will people assume?” Assume. Not a scintilla of – you know, actual evidence? – which should be quite easy to obtain by simply examining the bodies. And nothing here to suggest that Palestinians were arrested and killed for their organs. And Allison also does not include the final paragraph in the article she cites, which states “Whether [the question of organ thefts] is a matter of perception or fact, if not quickly addressed its impact on future Israeli/Palestinian relations will be devastating“, casting still more doubt on the allegations.

            The Alistair Sinclair case is connected to the Yehuda Hiss case, and does nothing to prove the “suspicions” that Palestinians are being kidnapped and murdered for their organs, or that Palestinian detainees were being killed for their organs, or even that dead Palestinians’ organs were being harvested for transplant.

            And the best Allison could glean from Khaled Amayreh’s article was this: “…Nessim Dahan, said…that he couldn’t deny or confirm that organs of Palestinian youths and children killed by the Israeli army were taken out for transplants or scientific research.“. Well, THAT’s definitive. And this: “the Knesset member…said that he had received ‘credible evidence proving that Israeli doctors at the forensic institute of Abu Kabir extracted such vital organs as the heart, kidneys, and liver from the bodies of Palestinian youth and children killed by the Israeli army in Gaza and the West Bank.’ ” OK, fine, but here’s the thing. 1) Organs are routinely extracted from dead bodies when autopsies are performed, and 2) the Abu Kabir case has been well investigated and reported, and the problem was not that they were taking organs for transplant, but that they simply were not returning the organs to be buried with the bodies, but were throwing them out, or, according to some reports, selling them to medical schools for 3) there is nothing here about killing Palestinians for their organs. Inconclusive, at best.

            The Abu Kabir case: It appears that the director, Yehuda Hiss, failed to return body parts for burial with bodies after they were removed for autopsies, and also sold some to medical schools for research and teaching, no doubt for his own personal profit. That is bad, but it does nothing to support the allegations that Palestinians have been killed so their organs could be harvested for transplant, or even that dead Palestinians’ organs were harvested.

            Organ trafficking: Irrelevant. We know Israelis have engaged in organ trafficking. That is bad, but it does nothing whatsoever to support any of the allegations regarding Palestinian organs being harvested, let alone kidnapping and/or killing Palestinians in order to harvest their organs.

            The Bostrom article: Looks promising at first, but there is nothing substantive there. Can’t anyone do better than ““The families in the West Bank and in Gaza felt that they knew exactly what had happened? Can’t someone at least produce one single example in which the Israelis took away a living Palestinian, and professional examination confirmed that organs were missing? Just one?

            The bottom line is that there is no “there” there. Not a shred of real evidence – not even real circumstantial evidence. There is nothing but speculation, guess work, “feelings”, and a bunch of disconnected, and barely-connected dots. How difficult would it be to produce actual evidence that Palestinians have been kidnapped alive and returned with missing organs? Not difficult at all. So why has no one done it?

          3. Thanks for that thorough discussion of this story. I can’t believe that so many people (actually not so many, but many more than I would’ve though) are writing to me as if I too should join the crowd & drink the Kool Aid over this story. In fact, one ex-reader got quite irate & viewed my disbelief regarding this story as hostility to Palestinians overall.

          4. I could have gone into much more detail, but did not really have the time, and thought it might be a bit excessive for this venue anyway.

            It is not difficult for me to imagine that Palestinian bodies might have been involved in the Abu Kabir case. To the extent they had a careless attitude about these things it would, I imagine, have applied to all bodies there without discrimination. And if, as the MOH seem to have discovered, Hiss and possibly others were selling body parts to medical schools for personal profit, I doubt they discriminated. But this was not a case of organ harvesting for transplants, so it is not really relevant to the allegations, and this sort of malfeasance is not unique to Israel in any case.

            Beyond that, without some real, actual hard evidence, I am not prepared to buy the allegation that Israelis spirited away wounded Palestinians in order to take their organs, and even less that they kidnapped perfectly healthy Palestinians and murdered them for their organs. Show me one clear, documented case, just one, and I will pay more attention, but until then, I put that story into the bin with all the other urban legends about stolen organs.

    2. the chances of transforming Israel from within are zero.

      What a pity you don’t get to make Neve’s decisions for him. He’s chosen to stay & transform Israel. I honor his fight & will support it fully. You can go crawl off into the rejectionist anti-Israel swamp which you crawled out of.

  10. You are so cute when you are forced to resort to ad hominem attacks!

    And by the way, you have consistently defended the hell out of Carmi, which naturally leads one to infer that you support her. Sp deal with it.

    1. There’s nothing ad hominem about inferring from your refusal to acknowledge a simple point that you have a lack of integrity.

      To repeat: I have consistently defended Carmi’s right, as president of BGU, to express her views regarding Gordon, just as I have consistently defended his right, as an academic at BGU, to express support for BDS. At no stage have I endorsed either of their positions.

      Does Chomsky’s consistent defence of Faurison make him a Holocaust denier?

      1. Oh, come on, Alex, DO stop playing games. Saying someone lacks integrity is a classic example of ad hominem. You are clearly sophisticated enough to understand that.

        You left quite a few people here with the impression that you defended Carmi’s position. In fact, I don’t recall a single person indicating they had NOT gotten that impression. I believe you when you say you do not support Carmi’s position, and I understand why you might feel frustrated that people did not understand that, but you clearly did not communicate that effectively or at least someone would have understood it that way.

        1. Well the reason they had that impression is because of their assumptions about Israel-Palestine etc etc, and certainly not because of anything I said, which is why nobody can come up with a single example of me demonstrating any form of support for Carmi’s position.

          1. OK, so you communicated just fine, and all the fault lies with everyone else who was just not able to receive your communication correctly because of their own prejudices. Mhmmmm. No possibility that you could have done a bit better at your end of the communication.


          2. the reason they had that impression is because of their assumptions about Israel-Palestine etc etc, and certainly not because of anything I said

            Now you’re being a twit. Everyone here who has written a comment here to you, understood you in the same way, & yet the reason isn’t because of yr lack of clarity, but because of our own prejudices. Do get off of it.

            I’m done w. this thread. That means you’re done. You’ve repeated yrself & we who see it differrently are not saying anything new either. Move on to a diff. thread.

  11. I don’t know why you have to use words like pathetic, it’s not very pleasant, but such is your style, and I’m sure you have your own reasons for it. In any case, I’d like to remind you of my first comment on this issue:

    “Let me get this right: in the name of academic freedom Neve Gordon has the right to call for BDS, but Rivka Carmi doesn’t have the right in the name of academic freedom to criticise that in vituperative terms? Or are you merely disagreeing with her; just like she’s merely been disagreeing with him? This is what I mean when I talk about double standards. I don’t think either of them have gone beyond the pale of discourse.”

    In other words, I’ve always kept narrowly focused on the issue of whether they had the right to say what they said. Whether I agree with them or not is transparently secondary to that issue. Given this, and based on what I’ve said, a reader could just as easily surmise that I was opposed to Carmi’s position, although it’s no surprise to see you and Shirin assume that I would support her.

    1. We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this. But what I’m saying is that if you want to be fully understood here you should try to be more clear about yr real, full views of subjects & a little less concerned about the pilpul-ish nature of our debate. This isn’t Harry’s Place or some other venue where yr views (as you express them here at any rate) will be applauded and accepted at face value. Just as you parse our pt of view we do the same to yrs. Clarity is also helpful.

    2. like she’s merely been disagreeing with him?

      She hasn’t merely been disagreeing with him. She went well beyond merely disagreeing with him.

      The president of Tel Aviv University was merely disagreeing with graduate student on Global BDS when he opposed his views while upholding his right to express them. He did not subject the student to intimidation or threats or name-calling, or inciteful rhetoric, nor did he threaten his academic standing in any way. He exercised his right to disagree appropriately while respecting the priniciples of academic freedom, and the student’s rights under those principles. The same can most certainly NOT be said for Carmi. Can’t you see the difference?

  12. Having caught up with this wild, wooly exchange, I thought I’d pronounce judgement from on high, think of Moses on top of a mountain, or something…

    Alex, the main problem with your argument is that you assume that “free speech” exists in a vacuum, a levelled world without distinctions. Having a universal standard of free speech does NOT mean that everything is the same and there are no category differences. Context is crucial, as Shirin tried to get you to see.

    Regarding academic freedom, a university professor has a fundamental right to speak his/her mind on an international issue of the day and be protected in so doing. Protected speech is the heart of academic freedom, meaning that a professor does not have to worry about professional retribution/repurcussions for staking a position on an issue, or participating in the open exchange of ideas. Gordon’s behavior was within the normative purview of what a professor does, can do, and is allowed to do.

    A university president, on the other hand, is supposed to shore up and protect the academic freedom of his/her professors underneath her. That is a fundamental component of the job, certainly in the modern, industrialized world, and I would say more broadly as well. (This is common knowledge stuff, Alex, it’s a given, and if you’re going to contest that point you’re simply too ignorant to bother dealing with). By implicitly affirming and echoing the accusations of “treason” against Neve Gordon, and suggesting he should leave his post and even the country, Carmi is transgressing and undermining Gordon’s fundamental academic freedom. She’s exerting her superior power as top honcho of the institution to punish him professionally because of what he wrote (again, fully within his rights). Carmi is not merely disagreeing with his position (which would be ok), she is attacking and undermining his professional position in the university, a serious breach of academic freedom. So, the cases of “speech” are not equivalent. Again, having universal standards of free speech does not translate into everything being the same, that’s your fundamental fallacy, Alex.

    If Carmi stepped down from her position and role as president of Ben Gurion, she could rant and rave about Gordon and exercise her “free speech” all she wants and nobody would give a flying rip. It’s about context. If the President of the United States said “America sucks and I hate Americans”, he would be rightly condemned for doing so and surely be impeached, even though he would be exercising his/her “free speech rights”. Memorize this word, CONTEXT.

    1. sorry for the bit of repetition in second-to-last paragraph. In hoping to drive the point home, got carried away, need to edit sometimes 🙂

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