Israeli Right-wing NGO Doxxes Dozens of Left-leaning Academics

Im Tirtzu publishes contact information of some 80 faculty members which it claims expressed 'anti-Israeli' opinions or refused to serve in the military ■ Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities condemns 'intimidation'

File photo: An Im Tirtzu protest at Tel Aviv University on Nakba Day, 2016.
Moti Milrod

A right-wing NGO launched a Hebrew-language website this week featuring contact details and information on the views of some 80 Israeli academic faculty members.

The organization, Im Tirtzu, has since 2017 operated a hotline for callers to complain about professors, but until now had not presented any information it collected.

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According to Im Tirtzu, the faculty members listed on the site have expressed direct or indirect support for the BDS movement, supported boycotts of Israeli educational institutions, or participated in an "anti-Israel" rally or one endorsing refusal to serve in the military.

Other reasons for inclusion on the list, Im Tirtzu said, are desecrating Israeli national symbols, participating in political protests on campus, and accusing Israeli soldiers of committing war crimes. The site invites students to report other faculty members fitting these criteria.

The site lists faculty from all of Israel’s research universities – except for Ariel University, in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, and the religious-oriented Bar-Ilan University. The site also includes faculty from three colleges: Yezreel Valley College, the Ruppin Academic Center and the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo.

The details provided on the site are riddled with inaccuracies. For example, it claims that Dr. Carola Hilfrich of the Hebrew University, who was the focus of a media storm some four months ago after a video went viral in which she was seen confronting a student of hers who came to class in her army uniform, was filmed yelling at the student and demanding that she come to class in civilian clothes, after the student was attacked by an Arab student in the class for wearing her uniform.

The site further claims that witnesses said Hilfrich physically harmed the student. However, a Haaretz investigation revealed that the student was not confronted by another student and was not physically harmed by the professor.

The site also claims that Dr. Einat Albin of the law school at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was listed because she signed a petition supporting Breaking the Silence, but the petition the site links to does not feature her name.

The site also references academics' activisties in human rights groups that are unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For examples, it notes that Albin is a member of the public council of the Itach-Maaki Women Lawyers for Social Justice group, which is involved in issues of human, women’s and workers’ rights.

The Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities condemned the new site and said: “This is the continuation of the witch hunt that extremist political organizations are conducting, which serve cynical political interests.” The Council said the “system of informing and intimidation must be stopped immediately. It causes incredible damage to Israel and the Israeli economy.

“It's unacceptable that in universities in a democratic country, faculty and students will be afraid to speak, ask questions and cast doubt. This is the basis for every idea, innovative research scientific breakthrough,” said the university heads.

The Council for Higher Education in Israel declined to respond to a request from Haaretz. The universities also declined to comment, and referred Haaretz to the Council of Presidents.