Sheltering Extremism - by Paul Shindman
How a radical Israeli professor opened his home to a Palestinian criminal.
Jerusalem – Dr. Neve Gordon of Israel’s Ben Gurion University is known as one of the most radical academic Palestinian sympathizers. However, his activities appear to have peaked this year with a call for an anti-Israel boycott, and revelations that he hosted a convicted Palestinian sentenced to house arrest.
Despite being the chairman of the political science department at Israel’s Ben Gurion University, Gordon wrote an L.A. Times op-ed calling for a worldwide boycott of Israel, including Israeli universities, to achieve what he calls “ending our apartheid.“
Gordon’s call was widely seen as an anti-democratic attempt to undermine Israeli democracy and sovereignty and drew scathing criticism from his peers in both the academic and activist communities.
The president of BGU, Rivka Carmi, went so far as to say Gordon’s call meant the university “ is being threatened by the egregious remarks of one person, under the guise of academic freedom.” In a rebuttal editorial, Carmi had to point out that it was only Israeli labor law that prevented the university from firing Gordon. In a harsh assessment, she said his boycott call meant “Gordon has forfeited his ability to work effectively within the academic setting, with his colleagues in Israel and around the world.”
Veteran Israeli left wing anti-Zionist activist Uri Avnery was with Gordon and other Israeli extremists when they barricaded themselves in Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah compound during a prolonged siege by the Israeli army in 2002. Despite their common background, even Avnery rejected Gordon’s op-ed, saying it was an “example of a faulty diagnosis leading to faulty treatment. To be precise: the mistaken assumption that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resembles the South African experience leads to a mistaken choice of strategy.” This was harsh criticism from a political colleague that raised questions about Gordon’s professional abilities as an academic.
Gordon is viewed in his own country as notorious for his venomous anti-Israel writings and statements. The Israeli media reported when Gordon and other activists illegally entered Ramallah in 2002 to serve as human shields inside Yasser Arafat’s headquarters. They wanted to prevent the Israeli army from arresting the suspects wanted for the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister. Gordon was shown in newspaper photos embracing Arafat. The terrorists were eventually apprehended, tried and convicted.
Gordon also has a fractious track record in his teaching career with numerous run-ins with students who hold opposing views. Gordon regularly denounces Israel as a fascist apartheid entity and admitted that his boycott call was a tactic to force Israeli concessions with the Palestinians. Gordon’s articles are so openly anti-Israel that they are often published on neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial web sites.
Around the same time as the boycott call, Gordon turned his own home into a refuge for convicted Fatah organizer Mohammed Abu Humus, a resident of the Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem. As a local Fatah organizer, Abu Hums had previous convictions for several security related offenses including arson and assault. Despite the latest conviction for directing demonstrators to throw rocks, Gordon described Abu Humus as a “political prisoner” and “a Fatah leader.”
A Jerusalem district judge earlier this year convicted Abu Humus and handed down a nine-month sentence, converted to house arrest. Gordon organized a group of far-left academics to testify on behalf of Abu Humus, and Gordon offered the court to host Abu Humus in Gordon’s own home in Beersheva for the duration of the house arrest. It is evidently the only case on record of a Palestinian terrorist being released to house arrest in the home of a Jewish Israeli citizen.
Abu Humus and Gordon have collaborated in the past in an organization called Ta’ayush, which Gordon himself is on record as describing as a seditious group, but according to its website its activities appear to have petered out in 2007.
Abu Humus provided an interesting complement to Gordon’s position. Interviewed at his office in the Alternative Information Center, a pro-Palestinian lobby group in Jerusalem, Abu Humus stated that archeological excavations in the Old City prove that despite Jews worshipping at the remaining wall of the ancient Jewish temple, the Jews had no claim to Jerusalem. After years of archeological digging, he insisted no evidence of the Jewish temple exists.
“Have they found anything of the Jews? They didn’t find anything,” Abu Humus said.
Talking about the holy sites appeared to get Abu Humus riled up. Despite Gordon’s testimony that Abu Humus was a tolerant pacifist opposed to violence, the activist continued on a roll.
“If somebody believes in (the Jewish or Christian) religion, he has to change his religion,” Abu Humus said. “And after Jesus came, it says Mohammed will come. And Mohammed came. If you are religious as a Jew, you have to believe in Mohammed. You have to believe in Jesus.”
Gordon is the father of two small children and stated in the media that the time Abu Humus spent in his home under house arrest was “in a way, it’s a wonderful experience, probably the best political education that you can give to a child.”
Paul Shindman is a veteran freelance journalist in Israel who has worked with several North American media outlets and the BBC. He is the former Jerusalem bureau chief for United Press International.