Friday, August 20, 2010

Im Tirtzu vs. BGU

After targeting the New Israel Fund, "Im Tirtzu" ("If You Will It") is now taking aim at the political science department at Ben-Gurion University. It claims that a majority of its faculty members are left wing extremists and it has sent a letter to Prof. Rivka Carmi, the BGU president, saying that if steps aren't taken to make sure that the faculty and course content will be more balanced, Im Tirtzu will discourage students from studying there and will ask donors to stop the flow of cash. Since "balancing" the faculty without firing anyone would cost a lot of money by adding several new lecturers,  Im Tirtzu is actually calling for the firing of faculty members they don't like. They were careful not to actually use the word "fire". They must have been thinking of another word - "deniability" - when they wrote the letter. "You're calling us McCarthyites? But we never said anything about black-listing or terminating anyone's job!"

I don't know how Im Tirtzu came to the conclusion that a majority of the faculty members are extremists (9 of 11, they claim). I find this doubtful. Yes, this is the same department headed by Neve Gordon, who supports a boycott of Israel, and there probably is a vast majority of left-wingers among the faculty members, but not a majority of extreme leftists. Besides, what is important isn't their views but whether they abuse their roles as teachers and researchers to advance their agenda. If there's evidence of such conduct it's worthy of further scrutiny. If there isn't, it's just an attempt to shut up people whose views "Im Tirtzu" doesn't like.

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