Members of the Los Angeles Jewish community have threatened to withhold donations to an Israeli university in protest of an op-ed published by a prominent Israeli academic in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, in which he called to boycott Israel economically, culturally and politically.
Dr. Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, a veteran peace activist, branded Israel as an apartheid state and said that a boycott was "the only way to save it from itself."
Gordon, a political scientist, said that "apartheid state" is the most accurate way to describe Israel today.
"3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967," Gordon wrote, "and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews - whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel - are citizens of the state of Israel."
"It is indeed not a simple matter for me as an Israeli citizen to call to suspend cooperation with Israel," he further wrote. "The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories."
Gordon was in the public spotlight in 2002, during Israel's assault on the Palestinian Authority, as one of the Israelis who stayed with Yasser Arafat in his compound. In 2003, he was a vocal critic of Paratroopers Brigadier Col. Aviv Kochavi.
In the wake of the publication of the article, Israel's Consul-General in Los Angeles, Yaakov (Yaki) Dayan sent a letter to the president of Ben-Gurion University, Prof. Rivka Carmi, in which he said that such statements may be detrimental to the university.
"Since the article was published I've been contacted by people who care for Israel; some of them are benefactors of Ben-Gurion University," Dayan wrote. "They were unanimous in threatening to withhold their donations to your institution. My attempt to explain that one bad apple would affect hundreds of researchers turned out to be futile."
"I believe that the definitive answer to anti-Zionist lecturers like Gordon is to set up a center for Zionist studies, which unfortunately does not exist in Israeli academia," he continued. "This center would help dispel the lies disseminated by Gordon in the name of your university."
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