Thursday, December 15, 2005

So This is Freedom of Speech?

There are a few people and websites that are valiantly trying to bring to people's attention the fact that not only is the academia in Israel strongly left-wing and liberal (well, that's not really extraordinary) and even post-Zionist (we are Jews, aren't we?) but that they manage to arrange matters so that they maneuver themselves into dominating positions which suppress, ironically, democracy.

An example?

Next Tuesday, Haifa University's Center for Democratic Research, headed by Dr. Raphael Cohen-Almagor (, is hosting a full day's conference on "Freedom of Expression on the Background of the Disengagement Plan" ('Gaza First').

Now, why 'Gaza First', I don't know. That's how Oslo was originally broached way back in August 1993 and I can't recall Sharon claiming that slogan for his moves. So, what has this to do with anything except perhaps to be a poltical slant?

But, getting back to the conference, here are the main speakers:

1. Eran Shendar, State Prosecutor
2. Prof. Naomi Chazan, former Meretz MK
3. Prof. Raphael Cohen-Almagor
4. Prof Asa Kasher
5. Prof. Yedidyah Stern
6. Prof. Ariel Ben-Dor
7. Adv. Haim Shibi
8. Adv. Moshe Gorali
9. Justice Eliyahu Matza
10. Justice Daliah Dorner

In addition, former Labor MK Gad Yaakobi appears as a panel leader.

From personal knowledge, whereas #5 wears a kippah, he is not a rightist. And #7, while not a leftist, as Yedioth's Knesset correspondent, he is not rightist.

In other words, academic freedom of discussion about the draconian measures Israeli authorities - the government, the Knesset, the prosecutors, the police, and the courts - have all taken towards limiting freedom of speech and freedom of expression of the nationalist camp is censored and, effectively, censured.

Chazan and Kasher both follow an extreme progressive philosophical approach and both are Meretz people. I can't find anyone who could express even a middle-of-the-road position. No lawyer of the Forum of Erezt-Yisrael lawyers appears on the schedule (whether or not they were invited, I do not know) nor Adv. Naftali Wurtzberger who has experience in these matters. Not even MK Micki Eitan, Chairman of the Knesset's Law and Justice Committee which held hearings on the issue. No one who suffered from the restrictions appears. Orit Struck of Hebron successfully highlighted some abuse during the disengagement but maybe they don't invite people from over the Green Line.

Who knows, maybe a miracle will occur but as it now seems, a real chance to exchange views, to debate and discuss matters from different perspectives will be lost.

And since we are talking about the Center for Democratic Research, is this an example of Israeli democracy?

P.S. I wrote to Prof. Cohen-Almagor inviting him to comment.

1 comment:

YMedad said...

I received this from the conference organizer:

Shalom Yisrael,

If Micky Eitan, or someone of his stature, wishes to participate in the conference as a speaker, s/he is most welcome to get in touch with me this afternoon at 0507-421143. I could schedule her/him for the 11:12:30 session and s/he will receive 30 minutes to express views.
Best wishes,

Prof. Raphael Cohen-Almagor (D. Phil., Oxon)
Director, Center for Democratic Studies

I will try to see if I can contact someone but as the Likud is very busy right now, this would seemingly preclude any politician.