“They were unanimous in threatening to withhold their donations to your institution,” Dayan was quoted in the Hebrew press as writing to Rivka Carmi, the university’s president. “My attempt to explain that one bad apple would affect hundreds of researchers turned out to be futile.”
The university PR department scrambled and Carmi put out a terse statement, backing it up with appearances on national television in Israel.
“We are shocked and outraged by his remarks,” Carmi stated, further distancing the university from Gordon’s remarks by officially disassociating from his “destructive views that abuse the freedom of speech prevailing in Israel and at BGU.”
Will the tenured professor at the public university get sacked? Probably not.
He will likely continue to collect his salary — supplied by the tax coffers of the state he feels should be boycotted.
The additional irony is that Gordon shoots himself and the rest of the Israeli peace camp in the proverbial foot with his calls for a boycott.
Were such boycott in place, Israeli cultural eye openers like director Ari Folman’s multiple award-winning, Oscar-nominated Waltz With Bashir wouldn’t have made film festival rounds. Choreographer Sally-Anne Friedland’s politically charged Dance Drama Company performance of “Borders” wouldn’t have shown at New York’s 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Festival. And academically, a boycott would potentially rob Gordon’s BGU colleagues of funding for crucial joint Palestinian-Israeli desalination and desertification projects aimed at stabilizing regional conflict over water scarcity issues.
In a rebuttal of sorts, David Newman, Gordon’s university colleague, argued in Sunday’s Jerusalem Post that he views the type of punitive measures advocated by his colleague as ineffective and unethical, immaterial to Israel’s alleged treatment of Palestinians.
“’Two wrongs don’t make a right,’ but it’s a lot more than that — Israel’s universities constitute the public spaces where Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and discourse take place,” Newman asserts.
Boycotts would effectively curtail that dialogue.
Newman added that he respects his colleague’s right to make his point publicly, emphasizing that ”this is something which Israel’s universities can be proud of. It is this level of democracy, pluralism, and freedom of speech which few in the world, not least many of those proposing boycotts from abroad, can share.”
Ironically, should donors withhold their dollars from BGU because of their anger over Gordon’s remarks, they will be helping his cause. Halted funding to the university means that the very boycott Gordon advocated will be circuitously implemented.