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Friday, December 26, 2003

Of Intellectual Bondage

by Caroline Glick
"How could you report the war in Iraq if you sided with the Americans?"

"How can you say that George Bush is better than Saddam Hussein?"

These are some of the milder questions I received from an audience of some 150 undergraduate students from Tel Aviv University's Political Science Department. The occasion was a guest lecture I gave last month on my experiences as an embedded reporter with the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division during the Iraq war.

Many of the students were visibly jolted by my assertion that the patriotism of American soldiers was inspirational. The vocal ones among them were appalled when I argued that journalists must be able to make moral distinctions between good and evil, when such distinctions exist, if they wish to provide their readership with an accurate picture of the events they describe in their reports.

"Who are you to make moral judgments? What you say is good may well be bad for someone else."

"I am a sane human being capable of distinguishing good from evil, just like every other sane human being," I answered. "As criminal law states, you are criminally insane if you can't distinguish between good and evil. Unless you are crazy, you should be able to tell the difference."

When the show was over, and the students began shuffling out of the lecture hall, a young woman approached me.

"Excuse me," she said with a heavy Russian accent. "How can you say that democracy is better than dictatorial rule?"

"Because it is better to be free than to be a slave," I answered.

Undeterred, she pressed on, "How can you support America when the US is a totalitarian state?"

"Did you learn that in Russia?" I asked.

"No, here," she said.

"Here at Tel Aviv University?"

"Yes, that is what my professors say," she said.

In the weeks that have passed since I gave that lecture, I have not been able to get those students out of my mind.

While campuses throughout the Western world are known as hotbeds for radicalism, it is still hard to believe that Israeli students, who themselves served in the IDF, and who as civilians have experienced more than three years of unrelenting terrorist attacks on their cafes, night clubs, campuses, highways and public buses, could subscribe to such views.

How can they believe it is impossible to make moral distinctions between those fighting terrorism and totalitarian regimes and those perpetrating terrorism and leading such dictatorships?

It is an open secret that many of the most prominent Israeli academics and professors are also identified with the radical leftist fringes of the Israeli political spectrum.

The Hebrew University's Political Science Department was dominated for years by the leaders of Peace Now. Tel Aviv University's Social Science and Humanities Faculties are the professional home to some of the leaders of the even more radical Ta'ayush and Yesh Gvul organizations.

Israeli professors have signed petitions calling for boycotts of Israeli goods. Some have even supported the boycott of Israeli academics by foreign universities and academic publications.

Israel Radio reported this week that the letter written by 13 reservists from the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit in which they announced their refusal to serve in the territories was written for them by a Tel Aviv University professor.

Prof. Rafi Yisraeli from the Hebrew University notes, "It is ironic that the university presidents and Minister Natan Sharansky are now organizing a campaign to stop the boycott of Israeli academics in foreign universities.

A year ago, I discussed the issue, as well as the rampant anti-Semitism on European campuses, with the president of the University of Paris. He told me, 'What do you want from us? All we are doing is repeating what we hear from Israeli professors.'"

Continue reading Column One at the Jerusalem Post.
Thank G-d for Caroline Glick.