It’s been said that a desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world. Thus, when it comes to accessing danger, I’d faster put my faith in seasoned generals than a pack of elitist academicians who use their posteriors almost as much as their brains as they pontificate from behind safe havens. Though, as a writer, I too live in the world of noble ideas, I would not take it upon myself to set the agenda for national security any more than I would perform brain surgery (even on a liberal), or vote for a novice such as Barack Obama to lead the free world.
But, it seems these suicidal tendencies of the liberal-minded academics of the West have traveled intact to the Jewish state. Tuesday in Israel the Council of University Presidents demanded that the security establishment, meaning Israel’s Defense Ministry, stop intervening in the enrollment process at Israel’s higher education institutions. The students in question: Palestinian students coming in from the Gaza and the West Bank who want to study in Israeli universities.
Wait a second; let’s put this into perspective. Forget Israel’s assessment of things, but the last time I checked the State Departments travel advisory, it prohibits American citizens from visiting Gaza and the West Bank and prompts Americans already there to depart immediately. The State Department enumerates several reasons, including the fact that Hamas, a State terrorist organization, has assumed control over the region and because it’s a hotbed of terrorist activity, anti-West propaganda and has as its mission the destruction of Israel.
Extremist factions in the Gaza Strip have targeted Palestinian Christian groups and militants, have abducted Western citizens and have threatened attacks against U.S. interests. The American International School in northern Gaza was the target of an attack on April 21, 2007, and again on Jan. 10 and 12, 2008. In addition, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have intensified the launching of daily rocket attacks against Israeli towns as far north as Ashkelon. It is in this “loving” environment that these potential students are born and raised. They are suckled on hatred and nurtured on the hope of Israel’s demise. They are sending us rockets and terrorists, boycotts and body bags, and for this we are giving them diplomas. I’m terribly sorry, but application denied.
I’m not saying that all these students are entering Israel with nefarious plots, and I do appreciate and respect the visceral yearning and desire to learn, to grow, to better oneself. In fact, I strongly believe that a highly educated Palestinian population would lead to its economic advancement and that that financial growth and equality may very well be the main means to an enduring peace. One of Israel’s richest men, Eitan Wertheimer, Warren Buffet’s partner, affirmed that very point. He says that the Palestinians are mired in a financial crisis while Israel’s economy is galloping ahead, that religious fanaticism would be tempered by higher incomes. But, that being said, by which calling did it become Israel’s duty to educate sworn enemies of its country at its own risk. Let’s not forget that two of the 9/11 hijackers who entered the U.S. were on student visas – the guise of a student doesn’t neutralize the potential for danger. And if danger does come, what will these academics use to shield others from attack, perhaps a hardcover copy of “Destroying Israel for Dummies”?
Regardless of concerns by the Defense Ministry, several professors have joined a petition to the High Court of Justice against the restrictions on the entrance of Palestinians looking to enroll in Israeli universities, saying such restrictions “assist those who support the academic boycott of Israel.” Perhaps they too will next invite Ahmadinejad to address their students as did Columbia University. Their lack of insight into matters of defense, I can forgive, but as academics, I fault them for skipping over the vital chapters in history books which have proven that appeasement has never saved a life. Israel is boycotted not because it has quotas on Palestinian students, but because it is not Palestine.
As it stands, Palestinians are prohibited from enrolling in studies that “may be used against the State of Israel” and admission is limited to 70 students. The universities are also obligated to justify the admission of the selected students. But let it here be said that the Arab citizens of Israel are given full rights and access to Israeli academic institutions, as they should be.
In its letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the Council of University Presidents wrote, “Since its inception, the State of Israel has adamantly upheld the tradition of academic freedom,” and went on to say that “Israeli universities open their gates to all those who meet the academic demands, irrespective of race, sex, religion or nationality.”
Indeed, I too believe in higher education free of discrimination. So why don’t these gifted intelligent students pursue that higher education in Jordan or Egypt or other countries that bemoan the horrific plight the Palestinians are in purportedly because of Israel. Or in this age of high-tech, why can’t these students take online courses from Israel’s universities while completing the practical application some of these courses demand in participating Arab universities or elsewhere?
When Palestinians end up in Israeli emergency rooms for health issues, they are treated without discrimination. Numerous Israeli doctors have told me they see only a human being before them, not Arab or Jew. But do Jews have to end up in emergency rooms or the morgue to prove that they are an accommodating, loving tribe? The enemies of Israel have spent 60 years trying to destroy it, yet Israel excelled and prospered in spite of every devastation, heartache and setback. Now it is expected to share the fruits of its labor with those who sought to poison the well?!
Further, if Israel is deemed the little Satan by these students’ families, peers and communities, why are these students even allowed to set foot in a Jewish institution? If Israel is wrong about everything and is a country founded, according to its opponents, on lies and cheating and worse and it can never do anything right, then from where does this faith in its academic institutions arise? How irresponsible for these impressionable young students to be subject to the “satanic” influences of Israeli tutelage.
Another argument the universities make is that Jews themselves were victims of discrimination in academic institutions in Europe (and America) and it would be wrong to do the same. But there is a vital, crucial difference here. Jews and blacks were barred because of pure racist hatred and fear or envy of the perpetrators, not because they posed a physical or fatal threat. By no means were the institutions afraid that Jews would pack explosive matzo balls in their lunch bags. As Comedian Jackie Mason says, when did you ever hear two gentiles in a dark alley say in terror, “Let’s get the hell out of here, here come two balding Jews.”
Last week, thanks to the generosity of the American Jewish community, several boys from Sderot Israel were brought to the United States to participate in sports events and to attend summer camps with American Jewish kids. I sat with these handsome teen boys who told me how on a daily basis the rocket alarm is sounded in their town and that they have but 15 seconds to dash to a bomb shelter. Fifteen seconds between life and death. While attending camps here in the U.S., an attending counselor went on the loud speaker to tell campers that it was time to wind up their activity. All the Israeli boys had a panic attack. The sound of the loud speaker reminded them of Sderot where the same system accompanies the alarm that a death rocket is on its way. Like Pavlov’s dogs trained to salivate at the ringing of a bell, these boys were conditioned to fear with the sound of an overhead speaker system. This, my dear beloved professors, is what they have taught our kids. Is there a diploma for that?