October 10, 2012

EDITOR: That sinking feeling, again

Everyone must by now realise that Israeli cruelty and brutality towards Palestinians is the norm, rather than the exception. Yet, every new video clip demonstrating such is a shocking piece of evidence of the new depths to which Israel has sunk to, and shaming us all for the continued lack of serious international action. That we can blame this on the negative powers of the US in world politics is neither here nor there – serious international pressure, was it to emerge, would have, in the end, brought US to its knees on this, as it did in the case of Anti Apartheid some decades back. Needless to say, most Israelis know about such depravity, and either agree with it, or manage to will the shame away, and continue to believe in the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’. Sociologists have termed such ‘democracy’ as  Herrenvolk democracy.

Because of the ubiquity of video cameras on cellphones, the Israeli police is always ‘investigating’ this or that case of violence and brutality against Palestinians, just like the army does. Surprisingly, these multiple ‘investigations’ never find any culprits, exactly like none were found by the Czarist police in Russia after a pogrom. These are all crimes without a perpetrator.

WATCH: Israeli policeman beats a bound resident of East Jerusalem: Haaretz

A Palestinian who was arrested on suspicion of throwing rocks in the Temple Mount compound is seen beaten while lying down; Police says it is investigating the matter.

By Oz Rosenberg | Oct.09, 2012

Video showing police punching Afifi

A screen grab from Youtube showing police punching Afifi at the Temple Mount Compound.

A video shot last week and uploaded to Youtube in recent days shows an Israeli policeman punching an East Jerusalem resident in the face, despite the latter being handcuffed and lying on the ground.

Police arrested Hassan Afifi on suspicion of hurling rocks and assaulting security officers after Friday prayers last week at the Temple Mount compound. In the video, shot by a passerby,  two policemen are seen apprehending Afifi and handcuffing him. Then, one of the policemen punches Afifi in the face.  A short time beforehand, one of the officers is seen in the video demanding that the camera be turned off.

Since it was posted on Youtube three days ago, the video has already been watched nearly 90,000 times.

The incident took place after a tense week at the Temple Mount, during which more than 20 Muslim Jerusalem residents were arrested on suspicion of disturbing the peace, throwing rocks and attacking policemen.

Following his arrest, Afifi was taken in for interrogation and released on Tuesday after posting bail. Palestinian news sites carried pictures of Afifi after his release, which show that his face is bruised and his eyes are swollen.

The police said the matter is under investigation.

Raja Shehadeh: ‘Every aspect of Palestinian life is affected by the occupation’ – video: Guardian

Palestinian writer and lawyer Raja Shehadeh talks about his experience of growing up in the West Bank. Shehadeh discusses the day-to-day hardships of living under Israeli occupation and reflects on episodes from his journal Occupation Diaries, as well as considering the effects of the Arab spring on the region as a whole

EDITOR: Standing up and being counted

While most Israeli academics have shamefully kept their silence about the McArthyte actions of the CHE (Council for Higher Education) in Israel, in its haste to close down the BGU department of Politics and Government, there is a small but significant minority who have signed a petition distancing themselves from the CHE action.

PROTECT ACADEMIC FREEDOM | שמרו על החופש האקדמי

1,101 signatures

Opened on September 22, 2012

עברית אחרי אנגלית(Hebrew follows the English text)

We, faculty members of academic institutions worldwide, express our deepest concern regarding the latest events vis-à-vis the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University, including the decision of the Evaluation Committee of the Council for Higher Education (CHE) to close the department to student registration, the practical implication of which is the department’s closure. We feel that academic freedom in Israel’s higher education system is under severe attack, and that the closure of this department is the first case, but certainly not the last – unless this current trend is stopped.

This small department at Ben Gurion University has become a target of ultra right-wing groups such as “Im Tirtzu”, due to the personal political opinions of some of the department’s members. The distinguished CHE Evaluation Committee recently proposed a series of changes to the department, primarily to strengthen the core areas of Political Science within the curriculum and to encourage the recruitment of new staff in these areas. Already within the original report of the Committee Prof. Galia Golan, who wrote the report’s “minority opinion,” expressed her concern with regard to the report’s demand for “balance”, as it may harm the academic freedom of the faculty members.  Nevertheless, the department has gone to great lengths to meet the Committee’s requirements. Following the changes made by the department, the Committee expressed its satisfaction at the changes and even proposed that, in light of these changes, the subject of closing down the department’s registration should be removed from the agenda.

It is therefore extremely surprising that the CHE’s Subcommittee for Quality Assurance is now recommending that new steps be taken that will lead to the effective closure of the department. This latest proposal implies that the goal – to close the department – was marked in advance, without regard to any academic problems; the means of so doing were determined later-on.

As far as we know, there exists no precedence for the CHE’s closing of an academic department. Rigorous assessment of the current situation reveals that there is no real basis for taking such a step in the case of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University.

We call on the Council for Higher Education to reject the proposals of the Subcommittee for Quality Assurance, and to provide the department with the appropriate means to continue in its growth and development.

אנו, חברות וחברי סגל במוסדות אקדמיים מכל רחבי הארץ, מבקשים להביע את דאגתנו העמוקה מהאירועים האחרונים בעניינה של המחלקה לפוליטיקה וממשל באוניברסיטת בן גוריון, כולל הצעת ההחלטה של ועדת הערכה של המועצה להשכלה גבוהה (מל”ג) לסגור את המחלקה לרישום סטודנטים, שפרושה בפועל סגירת המחלקה. אנו חשים שהחופש האקדמי של מערכת ההשכלה הגבוהה בישראל נמצא תחת מתקפה קשה, וכי סגירת מחלקה זו מהווה מקרה ראשון, אך ודאי לא אחרון, אלא אם כן תיעצר המגמה העכשווית.

מחלקה קטנה זו באוניברסיטת בן גוריון הפכה למטרה לארגוני ימין קיצוני כמו “אם תרצו”, עקב הדעות הפוליטיות הפרטיות של כמה מחבריה. ועדת הערכה מכובדת של המל”ג הציעה לאחרונה סדרה של שינויים במחלקה, בעיקר כדי לחזק את תחומי הליבה של מדע המדינה בתכנית הלימודים ולעודד גיוס חברי סגל חדשים בתחומים אלו. כבר בדו”ח המקורי של הועדה ניתן למצוא “דעת מיעוט” שנכתבה על ידי פרופסור גליה גולן, ובה היא מביעה את דאגתה מהדרישה ל”איזון” העלולה לפגוע בחופש האקדמי של חברי המחלקה, העומד בבסיסה של כל פעילות מדעית. אף על פי כן, המחלקה והאוניברסיטה השקיעו אנרגיה רבה כדי לעמוד בדרישות הועדה. בעקבות השינויים שעשתה המחלקה הביעה הועדה המלווה את שביעות רצונה מהשינויים ואפילו הציעה שלאור שינויים אלה יש להסיר את נושא סגירת הרישום למחלקה מעל סדר היום.
מפתיע על כן מאד שועדת המשנה להבטחת איכות של המל”ג ממליצה כעת על צעדים חדשים שיובילו אפקטיבית לסגירת המחלקה. ההמלצות החדשות מרמזות שהמטרה -לסגור את המחלקה- סומנה מראש, ללא קשר לכל בעיה אקדמית וכי האמצעים נבחרו לאחר מכן.
ככל הידוע לנו, אין תקדים לסגירת מחלקה אקדמית על ידי מל”ג. הערכה קפדנית של המצב הנוכחי מלמדת שגם אין בסיס אמיתי לנקיטת צעד כזה במקרה של המחלקה לפוליטיקה וממשל באוניברסיטת בן גוריון.
אנו קוראים לכן למל”ג לדחות את ההצעות של ועדת המשנה להבטחת איכות, ולתת למחלקה את האמצעים המתאימים להמשיך בהתפתחותה.

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