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.
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.