The president of Ben Gurion University, Rivka Carmi, recently questioned the aims and tactics of the Zionist movement, Im Tirtzu, an extra-parliamentary movement that works to strengthen and advance the values of Zionism in Israel.
In her article, Carmi claimed that the movement “derides ‘exposing’ students to speakers and opinions that some might consider anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli,” and called for a country where “everyone’s opinion can be heard without fear.” Clearly, Im Tirtzu does not fall into Carmi’s category of “everyone.”
Carmi was quick enough to lash out against Im Tirtzu for protesting MK Haneen Zoabi’s appearance at the university’s “Who is an Israeli” conference, when protest is the definition of a healthy democracy. Why does MK Zoabi have the right to protest against the Jewish state (and to even participate in acts of violence against IDF soldiers), but others do not have the right to protest against her? Is that Carmi’s idea of democracy?
Ironically enough, it was the political science department in Carmi’s own university that was deemed unfit by the Council for Higher Education for being slanted to the radical left and was forced to implement major changes in order to make the department more pluralistic.
Hypocrisy at its finest.
Im Tirtzu is a movement spearheaded by students; students who disagree with the values being taught by professors preaching the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement to their classes; students who disagree with the values of pro-terrorist rallies; students who disagree with the values being taught by MK Haneen Zoabi. While those views have a place within the academic world, it is critical that the other side is presented.
If students do not want MK Zoabi, someone who openly does not consider herself an Israeli, to appear at a “Who is an Israeli” conference, then they have the right to be heard. Just like each individual has the right to express his or her own view, others have the right to disagree and to speak out against them. That is the definition of democracy.
Carmi’s article, an ill attempt to stifle the Im Tirtzu movement under the guise of pluralism and free speech, perfectly illustrates the double standard and politicization of academia occurring in Israel. Free speech is a right granted to everyone, and not only to self proclaimed “human rights activists” and radicals who preach free speech, but only when it’s their own speech they want to be free.
As for Carmi’s question, “who has given them [Im Tirtzu] the mandate to decide who is an Israeli?” I ask: who has given her the mandate to decide who decides who is an Israeli?