10 Percent of Israeli Academics Labeled 'anti-Zionist' by Campus Watchdogs

Survey comes up with the names of more than 1,000 Israelis, 800 of whom are academics but also including authors, journalists, public intellectuals, and past and present cabinet ministers.

Talila Nesher
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Talila Nesher

Three self-proclaimed watchdog organizations have labeled about 10 percent of Israeli academics as anti-Zionist, according to a recent study by a group of academics, artists and university students who aim to counter the categorizations. The organizations, which are open about their activities, are Im Tirtzu, IsraCampus and Israel Academia Monitor.

The group's survey came up with the names of more than 1,000 Israelis, 800 of whom are academics but also including authors, journalists, public intellectuals, and past and present cabinet ministers, that appear on a list maintained by the trio of organizations.

MK Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) speaking at a meeting with Im Tirzu at Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus. Credit: Tess Scheflan

Members of the group include political scientist Prof. Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Israeli Film Directors Guild chairman Rani Blair; and the chairman of the Israeli Documentary Filmmakers Forum, Uri Rosenwaks. They recently created the Blacklist website (blacklist.co.il), which invites visitors to check whether they themselves appear on the lists.

"There is a real concern for the future of Israeli democracy and about McCarthyism against anyone who criticizes the government's policies in the occupied territories or social aspects," Gordon said. "Every week new names appear on these sites, and we wanted to examine the extent of the phenomenon. The people who will be hurt most are junior faculty members who are trying for university positions and are wary of being 'marked out,'" Gordon said.

Israel Academia Monitor said in a statement: "We are not a right-wing organization, but rather an organization that is unaffiliated politically and that keeps its distance from politics. Our role is to protect the universities from political forces, and especially from the extreme left, that exploits the institutions for its needs and acts as if they were its private playing field."

University of Haifa economist Prof. Steven Plaut, one of the founders of IsraCampus, said in a statement: "Our main function is to quote what these teachers say and write ideologically and politically in order to bring it to the attention of the public. The issue is not an ideological argument, but rather publicizing the anti-Israel group that openly supports the enemy," Plaut said.

Im Tirtzu said: "We are not familiar with the study, but spin and manipulation cannot obscure the gravity of the deeds of the extreme left. Anyone who signs petitions in support of the refusal to perform military service, of Azmi Bishara and of the boycott against Israel, and who silences students, are marking themselves."

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