Just a few weeks ago, Professor Neve Gordon, head of Ben-Gurion University’s department of politics and government, was again challenged for continuously engaging in initiatives calling for a global boycott of Israel including his own University.
The Rector of the University, Professor Jimmy Weinblatt, once more rejected efforts to discipline Gordon, insisting that he would retain his position despite the fact that he was using the University as a launching pad to demonize Israel. To do otherwise, he said, would be an infringement on academic freedom. Weinblatt was conscious of the problems he would face from faculty if he acted against Gordon.
On a previous occasion when this issue had arisen, the head of the Sociology and Anthropology Department, Professor Uri Ram warned:
Should he be fired as head of the Political Science department due to his political opinions, I shall call on all department heads in the University to resign as well, in support of Gordon and in protest of the violation of his rights, civil freedom and the University establishment in Israel.”
A few days ago, an extraordinary event occurred at Ben Gurion University which barely caused a stir amongst the public or the media. Dr Yeruham Leavitt, a professor emeritus who has conducted a bio-ethics course over many years, was sacked from the University for having opined at a lecture, that homosexuality could be “contained”, and that children of same-sex couples were being deprived of a “normal” upbringing.
One may of course dispute such an assertion. Yet the remark was not intended to offend. In fact, Dr. Leavitt stated:
I have nothing against the gay and lesbian community. Moreover during my years at the university, I always instilled the values of tolerance and liberalism.”
However, Professor Riad Agbaria, head of the clinical pharmacology department, insisted that Leavitt’s employment be terminated. “There is no room for personal opinions that offend some of the students”, he wrote. The university responded with a statement emphasizing that “Ben-Gurion University sanctifies freedom of expression, but the lecturer blatantly crossed the red line.” News reports also noted that Dr. Leavitt was a settler who resides in Kiryat Arba, presumably implying that this had relevance to his dismissal.
The firing of Dr. Leavitt exemplifies the absurd and obscene double standards being imposed by Israeli academic institutions. Universities are willing to sack a lecturer for expressing a view not considered politically correct by dominant academic establishment. Yet the same authorities insist on retaining tenure for a senior academic like Gordon, described by Alan Dershowitz as a man “who has gotten into bed with neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and anti-Semites… a despicable example of a self-hating Jew, and a self-hating Israeli.”
Gordon has actually endorsed terrorist attacks, described a convicted Fatah terrorist as a role model for his children and called for a boycott of Ben-Gurion University as well as “apartheid” Israel. Yet the university administrators repeatedly reiterated that even if Gordon continued to use his position to undermine the state and collaborate with those seeking to boycott his own university, he would not be disciplined because that would represent a breach of academic freedom. Whilst the University did not consider that “red lines” were being crossed by Gordon, Dr Leavitt was sacked for having made a remark about problems facing children growing up in a homosexual household – surely a legitimate viewpoint worthy of consideration.
This episode demonstrates how a cabal of post-Zionist and far left academics have succeeded to create an environment in which tenured staff are conscious that they have a license to debase the State – and even call for the destruction of their own University in the name of academic freedom – whilst suppressing any views that are politically incorrect from their bigoted perspective. It is truly reminiscent of the universities in the former Soviet Union approved by Stalin.
The government and donors to Ben-Gurion University and other academic institutions should have their heads examined if they continue providing funds which can be exploited in such a degenerate manner.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post