Prof. Carmi’s personal opinion in the LA Times

As I thought, Ben Gurion University cannot legally fire Dr. Neve Gordon. So the campaign to fire him, without firing him continues, this time in the pages of the LA Times.

Ben Gurion University President Rivka Carmi published her own op-ed there, in order to explain why she is so upset at Dr. Neve Gordon’s op-ed in the same paper calling for international pressure to end the Israeli occupation–including boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

Oh, she’s not only upset. She also explains why he should leave BGU, of course.

She starts, as you would expect, establishing her credentials as a defender of academic freedom,

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, no matter how controversial their views or writings may be.

But things go downhill from then on.

She adds,

Academic freedom exists to ensure that there is an unfettered and free discussion of ideas relating to research and teaching and to provide a forum for the debate of complicated ideas that may challenge accepted norms.

Isn’t the heated discussion that resulted from Dr.Gordon’s op-ed proof enough that his piece opened up a “debate of complicated ideas that may challenge accepted norms”?

Ask the many students and professors at BGU who sent a letter to Prof. Carmi that reads in part (my translation):

We, the students, wish to express our support of Dr. Neve Gordon and his welcome efforts to bring to the public important issues regarding the future of Israeli society–issues that are absent from the legitimate public dialog.

What’s Prof. Carmi’s answer?

Gordon, however, used his pulpit as a university faculty member to advocate a personal opinion, which is really demagoguery cloaked in academic theory.

Very convenient. Prof. Carmi can label any opinion she does not like as ‘personal’ and deny it any academic freedom protections.

If anyone can present an academic position on this subject, it is Dr. Gordon. He is the Chair of the University’s Political Science Department. His scholarly book, Israel’s Occupation, was published last year by the University of California Press.

One cannot say the same about Prof. Carmi. Asked about Dr. Gordon’s strong reputation as a researcher and teacher, she said yesterday that since she was a medical researcher and he is a political scientist — she wasn’t in a position to judge.

That was yesterday. Today she can judge. She now knows personal from academic. Wow.

And she is impartial too. Those that are on her side are calling for donors and other supporters of the university to “boycott BGU.” On the other hand, she is under attack by others who champion Gordon on the basis of freedom of speech.

Some call, some attack. Is that her personal opinion or her academic judgment?

You be the judge. But be careful. No personal opinions allowed.

– Sydney Levy

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