Boycott Israel-update 3

Posted: 27 August 2009 in Uncategorized
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However unbelievable, here is the the full translation of the letter written by the president of Ben-Gurion University to all the faculty:

Dear Faculty Members,

I would like to share a very grave matter with you, one that has unfolded in the past few days and has severe consequences for our university.

Last Thursday I returned from a trip to the US. After over a year in which there was a steep decline in donations due to the world economic crisis, I definitely felt signs of cautious optimism and a willingness [of donors] to continue cultivating a close relationship [with the university] so that – in the near future –the university’s financial needs and plans could be discussed. In all the meetings I attended, the university’s achievements were hailed, as were its academic and social reputation and its important role in developing the Negev [southern region of Israel] and the state.

Less than one hour after I had landed, I received an urgent phone call from the US notifying me of an article by Dr. Neve Gordon, one of our faculty members, that was published in a prominent place in the newspaper “The Los Angeles Times”.

The article calls on the entire world to boycott Israel, which Dr. Gordon defines as an apartheid state. From that moment on, I have been receiving an unprecedented flow of enraged emails from friends and university supporters, as well as from others who merely heard about the article. I was also forced to hear very difficult things on the phone from Jewish donors and Israeli and international public figures.

This is not the first time that senior university administration members and I have had to face with such frontal attacks for similar reasons. I never shared this matter with you because I believe that confronting such issues is part of my job. Nonetheless, this time the severity and scope of the attack are unprecedented, both because of the article’s extremist line, which is perceived by many readers as an act of treason [emphasis added] against the state of Israel, and because the article was published in a newspaper with a very wide circulation, especially within the Jewish community. I have real and concrete reasons to feel that above all else, this article will likely cause a destructive blow to fundraising for the university, and the article’s potential damage to the university budget during the most difficult period in its history, and perhaps also in the future, is vast.

I see it as my duty to share with you my fears about the damage and its dire influence on the university’s financial situation, on its academic and social reputation, on its professional prestige and the loyalty of each and every one of us.

My fellow administrators and many of you, the faculty, work hard on fundraising for the university. I am sorry to say that without these donations we have no life [emphasis added] and certainly there can be no development and progress. This task is especially difficult now, during the current world economic crisis, and the competition between different institutions, and especially the universities, is harsh.

This type of article brands the university as one unworthy of support from the Jewish world. Many of those who contacted me emphasized that they will never again support a university who employs a faculty member willing to harm the state like this and that they will recommend that their friends to follow suit. I am quoting here the bottom line of the many inquiries I have received and am receiving at this moment.

Friends, I am not discussing the content of the article, although I am personally [bold and underlined in the original] deeply disgusted by it. All I want is to share with you the distress in which, in my opinion, the university currently finds itself, to inform you of the reasons for the distress, and as stated above, to share my fears of what is likely to happen to the future and growth/flourishing of the university.

Best wishes,
Rivka Carmi

This is the essence of the corporate university: anything that stands in the way of successful fundraising needs to be stopped!

Fortunately, the news is not all bad. Haaretz just published a very good essay by Gideon Levy. Some extracts:

A country that constantly demands boycott from the world and also imposes boycotts itself, cannot play the victim when the same weapon is turned against it. If the election of Hamas is cause for boycott, then occupation is a far more potent cause. The fact that Israel is living a lie – pretending that the occupation does not exist, that it is just, temporary and unavoidable – does not make the struggle against it any less legitimate. So let us admit the truth: The occupier deserves to be boycotted. As long as the Israelis pay no price for the occupation, the occupation will not end, and therefore the only way open to the opponents of the occupation is to take concrete means that will make the Israelis understand that the injustice they are perpetrating comes with a price tag.

Gordon chose not to follow the herd, unlike most of his cowardly colleagues or the nationalists. It is one’s right to think that an Israeli who does not boycott Israel does not have the right to call on others to take that step, or that the call for an external boycott is the last option of Israeli patriots who do not want to abandon the country or throw up their hands. There is, however, no place for the vicious attacks on Gordon. The height of ludicrousness was achieved by the President of Ben-Gurion University, Prof. Rivka Carmi. She was appalled by the article published by a member of her faculty, fearing it could affect the university’s donations from American Jews. Here, then, is a new criterion for good citizenship and morality: the harm it wreaks to our schnorring. It’s also a new gauge for academic and civic freedom of expression: If something miffs the donors from Beverly Hills or Miami Beach, then we must not speak it aloud. Quiet – people donating.

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