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How do you say McCarthyism in Hebrew?

Updated: Jun 6

Columbia? You Should Really Watch Israeli Universities

As Israelis decry protests in American and European universities as antisemitic, claiming that pro-Israeli speech is being suppressed, they should scrutinize their own academic institutions. Let us look at the Israeli Student Association, a representative body of Israeli students. You would expect them to be actively assisting students affected by the war and ensuring the safety of Palestinian students, who make up about 18% of the student body. Unfortunately, like many public institutions in Israel now they find it much easier to indulge in nationalistic populist rhetoric, fueling hate and endangering lives. After all, this is far simpler than actually solving problems.

Academic Free Speech? Only For Supporters of the Occupation and the War

The association is currently headed by Elhanan Palheimer, a man with a criminal conviction for violently assaulting a Palestinian while using racial slurs. This hasn't prevented him from being elected to this position. The association's current flagship project has become a campaign of terror and intimidation, promoting a law that mandates the immediate firing of any academic who speaks “against the existence of Israel as a Jewish or democratic nation.” Who determines what speech falls under this category? It's unclear. This is a blatant attempt to bolster the self-censorship universities have practiced since October 7th, where professors and students, particularly Palestinians, are being punished for speaking out against the war.

pinpointing targets for ‘revenge’

Whether this bill becomes law or not, the campaign itself is already terrifying. The association has paid for large signs naming prominent academics with quotes supposedly proving they are "supporting terrorism." The targets include Prof. Anat Matar from Tel Aviv University and Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who is already under criminal investigation simply for speaking out. Both women have been targeted by right-wing organizations before and have received numerous threats. Yet now, with fervent nationalism becoming mainstream and state crackdowns on speech becoming the norm, this campaign has set a new, terrifying standard.

All eyes are on you - do the right thing!

The continuation of the war emboldens the extreme nationalistic elements in Jewish society, rapidly transforming Israel into a populist theocracy. Let’s show support for these professors and all the other victims in Israeli academia who are being silenced simply for trying to remain human in the face of this barbaric war. Let the Israeli Student Association know what you think about their vile campaign on their instagram page. Let the Hebrew university and Tel Aviv university know you are watching them and expect them to defend the academic freedom of speech of their staff.

Prof. Anat Matar and Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian

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