There's a big public kerfuffle here the past week or so about an Im Tirzu call to boycott Ben Gurion University until it does something about the department of government studies, if I'm not mistaken, which is staffed by a group of anti-Zionist professors.
I think boycotts of universities are bad things, period. What I'm less clear is who's the McCarthy camp in this story.
Earlier today I had a long business meeting with a professor at BGU. Not a young lecturer, rather a scarred old-hand at university politics. On our national political spectrum he's moderate left, or Zionist left. Before we got down to the business matters, I asked for his take on his university being under attack etc etc. In response he gave me a 15-minute lecture: Oh, there's McCarthyism at the university all right and it's been happening for a number of years already, but it's not from Im Tirzu. It's McCarthyism of a cabal of lecturers who are carefully and purposefully doing their best that their students hear only one interpretation of their materials, who do their best to block anyone who doesn't agree with them, and who are making certain only the members of their own group get promoted. He suggested I look at the syllabi of their courses and judge for myself if they are being broad-minded and encouraging intellectual investigation, or if they're inculcating ideology. He told of a case a few years back when he invited one of the top anti-Zionists to a conference he was arranging, to the tremendous astonishment of the fellow:
- You're inviting me to your conference? Even though you know my positions?
- Of course we're inviting you. Once you're there we'll probably tear your thesis apart, but it's part of the spectrum and needs to be presented, even though you'd never invite any of us to a conference of yours.
Well, is just so happens that when I got home this evening I saw the editorial in Haaretz, calling on the president of Tel Aviv University (not BGU) not to examine the syllabi of course at TAU because that would be McCarthyism of the worst sort.