Thursday, September 03, 2009

Neve Gordon oversteps the boundaries

From The LA Times, September 1, 2009, by Rivka Carmi, president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel:

Ben-Gurion University's president responds to one of her professor's call for a boycott of Israel.

As president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, I have always remained open and impartial to the wide diversity of opinions within our academic faculty and their right to free speech....

However, I strongly believe a call for a worldwide boycott of Israel written by a Ben-Gurion University faculty member, Neve Gordon, that appeared in The Times oversteps the boundaries of academic freedom... ... Gordon ...used his pulpit as a university faculty member to advocate a personal opinion, which is really demagoguery cloaked in academic theory.

Gordon argues that ..."a boycott would save Israel from itself."

But would destroy the very fabric of the society that he claims to want to protect. ...this "call for a boycott" is already being used to isolate Israel.

...Like it or not, Gordon cannot be readily dismissed. The law in Israel is very clear, and the university is a law-abiding institution.

At the same time, by calling on other entities, including academic institutions, to boycott Israel -- and effectively, to boycott his own university -- Gordon has forfeited his ability to work effectively within the academic setting, with his colleagues in Israel and around the world. After his very public ...Op-Ed article...[and] his extreme description of Israel as an "apartheid" state, how can he, in good faith, create the collaborative atmosphere necessary for true academic research and teaching?

The primary effect of Gordon's Israel-bashing will be to detract from the work of his university....There are many more hopeful and pragmatic voices to be heard at our institution than Gordon's, and they are the ones who will ultimately guide us, and Israel, to a brighter future.
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