JERUSALEM TERROR: Adiel Kolman, Father of Four Was Murdered Last Night in Jerusalem’s Old City

Adiel Kolman, 32 year old father of four from Kochav Hashachar was murdered last night by 28 year old Abed al-Rahman Bani Fa’adal, a resident of the Palestinian Authority-controlled town of Aqraba, near Shechem in the Shomron.  Fa’adal succeeded in using his entry permit to evade security checkpoints into Jerusalem and even into the Old City. He was shot by the police at the site of the murder.

Kolman was on his way home for the evening.  He was a security guard in the Old City of Jerusalem and as well as contributing greatly to the City of David’s archeological excavations.

The victim spent hours at Shaare Tzedek hospital only to succumb to his wounds.

President Reuven Rivlin said the following about the murder: ““Four more children lost their father last night. For the bereaved the pain is unbearable. Thirty-two year old Adiel Kolman, who worked with dedication in the City of David excavations, was murdered yesterday in the Old City, in a brutal and abhorrent stabbing terror attack. The terror on the streets of Jerusalem, our capital, where Jews and Arabs have lived together for hundreds of years, is a great disaster for all its inhabitants, and we will not allow it to become an existing reality. We will fight against terror and we will overcome.”

With tensions still high after the murder of two soldiers just before Shabbat, Daniel Luria, Executive Director of Ateret Cohanim offered a different approach. “Ateret Cohanim calls on the Israeli Government to act like a true supporting Governemnt and stop sitting on the fence, by pretending to be moral or ethical. We are at war. And so there is one way to treat an enemy during wartime. Destroying one petty small  bedroom in a building hasn’t and wont stop these terrorists,” Luria said.

Luria continued: “Destroying the family home (all rooms) will have more of a chance of being a deterrant. Evicting the whole immediate family and banishing them out of Israel to say Gaza  is a possible deterrant. Cutting any and all social security payments will also help if relevant. Lets stop playing games. Lets remember that the family and many friends of the terrorist knows about and  supports his actions. They are not innocent bystanders.”
“So I call upon  the Israeli Government to act like the head of the family, whose own child has been murdered and act like the true owner of the Land of Israel.”
Our answer. Our response. Our revenge – is to buy, build, redeem, reclaim, add Jewish life and secure Jerusalem.”

Can Naftali Bennett Uproot the Left’s Monopoly on Israeli Academia

Submitted under the title: Bennett’s academic code: Right sentiment, wrong strategy

In-depth 2013 study: “Israeli academics have been free to engage in ‘nazification’ of Israel”


Had such professional misconduct occurred in the natural or physical sciences there would have doubtless been serious consequences: e.g. the collapse of a bridge following phony engineering calculations…Yet it would seem that when it comes to the social sciences or the humanities… the researcher can escape punishment for the worst kind of malpractice…In this Orwellian world where war is peace and ignorance is strength, not only are the falsifiers not censured – they are applauded Prof Efraim Karsh, on radical left-wing academics in “Fabricating Israeli History”


…no ethical code will open the doors of the left-wing monasteries to the right-wing “heretics” who dare to think differently than the pseudo-liberals who dominate them. – Dr. Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom, June 12, 2017


Earlier this week, Education Minister Naftali Bennett caused a huge public uproar when he introduced his proposed “Code of Ethics” for the country’s institutions of higher learning, stipulating rules, or at least, guidelines, for the conduct of lecturers in the classroom.


The two principle components of the “Code” appear to be constraints on lecturers, restricting them from (a) promoting their personal political views in class and (b) endorsing the boycott of Israel, in general and from calling for an academic boycott against it, in particular.


Cat among the Establishment pigeons?


Bennett’s initiative certainly set the proverbial “cat among the pigeons” across the nation’s academic Establishment—and beyond.


Indeed, it was immediately excoriated by all and sundry—including our oh-so politically correct president, Reuven Rivlin—alleging that it would somehow undermine academic freedom and inhibit the vigor of academic inquiry.


These allegations are, of course, totally unfounded and should be rebuffed with the disdain they so richly deserve.  


Indeed, as Dror Eydar notes:This characterization [of the proposed code] as an ‘attack on democracy’ and ‘attack on academic freedom’ are as much as an insult to our intelligence as they are deceitful”.


He adds acerbically and aptly: “If there is an assault on freedom of expression, it exists right now in most the departments of social sciences and humanities, which function as ‘gatekeepers’ that preclude admission of lecturers and researchers who hold conservative-right-wing views…”


Eydar’s harsh condemnation mirrors much of my own personal experience but that is something I shall return to shortly.  


At this stage, however it is clear that Bennett has put his finger on a crucial issue, impacting the tenor of the public discourse in Israel, and judging from the furor that it has ignited, it appears to have touched a raw nerve among the entrenched and entitled academic elites.


Spotlighting the stranglehold


In this, he has shown considerable courage for broaching the subject boldly and should be warmly commended for spotlighting one of most acute issues afflicting the nation today: The stranglehold of the Left on academic discourse in—and about—Israel.


However, two trenchant questions regarding his initiative must be raised: (a) What is the scope and severity of this problem?  (b) Are the measures proposed the most appropriate and effective for dealing with it?


As to the former, there can be little doubt as to both the dimensions and gravity of the problem.  As to the latter, there is regrettably considerable doubt as to whether the “Code” is the optimal instrument for addressing the problem—or if it addresses the cardinal components of it at all.


Just how grave the problem of exclusionary bias is in the Israeli academe—at least in the Social Sciences and Humanities –is reflected in a comprehensive study of academic freedom in Israel by the widely respected researcher, Professor Ofira Seliktar.


Entitled Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective”, it conducts a comparative analysis of the situation in Israel, the UK and Germany and comes up with several disturbing conclusions regarding the abuse of academic freedom in Israel.


The following are some of the more worrying excerpts from the study.


“Zionism is a colonial-imperialist movement…”


Seliktar depicts the prevailing atmosphere in much of the Social Sciences and Humanities in the country’s academic institutions: “Neo-Marxist, critical scholarship has acquired a substantial following in faculties of the liberal arts (the humanities and social sciences) in Israeli universities.”  


She elaborates: “Known as post Zionism, it asserts that Zionism is a colonial-imperialist movement and that its progeny, the State of Israel, is a colonial-apartheid country… Israel is presented as a Nazi-like state and the Israel Defense Force…is accused of Nazi-like behavior”.


Seliktar then goes on to depict the exclusionary nature of the syllabuses offered students and the narrow perspectives it provides them: “As a rule, courses offered by self-described post Zionist faculty have been heavily weighted toward this neo-Marxist…paradigm, with little or no effort expended to provide any different perspective.”


She then expounds on how Israeli academics harness their position to advance their radical—even anti-Zionist—political agenda: “Combining academic research and political work, post-Zionist academics have engaged in a robust effort to compel Israel to withdraw from the territories; some advocated the return of Palestinian refugees in order to create a bi-national Jewish-Palestinian entity”.


Moreover, she points to a reprehensible phenomenon, revealing :“Israeli scholars have adopted a leadership role in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, launched international petition drives condemning the IDF for war crimes, and inspired lawsuits against individual commanders.”


“Israeli academics engage in ‘nazification’ of Israel…”


Seliktar laments: “Government and university authorities have been slow to respond to this threat, due to the prevalent notion that academic freedom protects faculty speech and action, both intramurally and extramurally.”


Just how predictable the current howls of protest at Bennett’s attempt to deal with this outrageous state of affairs are, is reflected in her observation:  “…radical scholars and their liberal defenders in the academy and media have warned that imposing any limits would injure Israel’s standing in the academic world and place it at-odds with standards of academic freedom practiced in other democratic countries…”


Seliktar harshly criticizes both the cronyism and the criteria for advancement within Israeli faculties of Social Sciences and Humanities: “…Israeli scholars have been routinely promoted based on publication in radical presses…and journals of dubious academic credibility.”   


She warns that “…none of the legal remedies developed in Great Britain and the United States are applicable to Israel…”  Thus, according to Seliktar, “Israeli academics have been free to engage in ‘nazification’ and ‘apartheidization’ of Israel”, unencumbered by constraints prevalent in other Western democracies. Furthermore, she cautions that their work has been seized on by Israel’s most indefatigable foes: “Their work has been quoted by pro-Palestinian or pro- Iranian circles seeking academic legitimacy for their positions.”


Summing up, Seliktar cautions that “The lack of understanding of how other countries balance academic freedom with responsibility to state and society has enabled radical scholars not only to abuse academic privileges, but also claim that Israel is sliding toward McCarthyism…”  


Right diagnosis, wrong remedy


This then, is the dire predicament that prompted Bennett’s well-intentioned initiative, and with which it was reportedly designed to contend.  


However, as emerges from Seliktar’s study, it is unlikely to address the major detrimental effects prevailing today in Israel’s academic milieu, or the grave damage the ongoing abuse of academic freedom is inflicting on Israel internationally.

Of course, I in no way wish to belittle the gravity of the fear of intimidation , even retribution, individual students may feel in the classroom should they have the temerity to challenge the political doctrine expounded by their lecturers. However, at the national level, concern should be focused elsewhere. Here, as Seliktar indicates, the problem is not so much which views are expressed—and which are suppressed—within the limited arena of a lecture. What is most damaging to Israel are those that are aired—or stifled—in academic conferences, journals and mainstream media opinion columns, using academic credentials to lend an air of indisputable authority to views conveyed in them.  

However, these effects are not addressed by Bennett’s proposed “Code”. Indeed not only does it not even purport to address them, Bennett himself pointed out, in response to his detractors claims that he is constraining academic activity,  that in these matters academics will still have unfettered freedoms.


It is therefore, clear that despite the accurate diagnosis of the malaise in Israel’s institutions of higher learning, the remedy prescribed in Bennett’s initiative will almost certainly be ineffective.


The real problem: Criteria for admission & promotion


Seliktars’s study underscores that the root of the problem is not so much restricting the expression of political proclivities in the lecture hall, but the criterion for admission to the ranks of academia, and for promotion to senior academic positions. These, too, are issues left largely unaddressed by the Bennett “Code”.


To underscore the severity of these two issues, I would challenge the readers to identify any senior tenured academic (and certainly any junior academic seeking tenure) in any major academic establishment, who overtly challenged the Oslo “peace process”, warned of the death and destruction it would wreak on Jew and Arab alike, and urged the Israeli government, publically and persistently, to abandon the perilous path it has embarked upon.  


I would be more than grateful to learn of the existence of any such redoubtable “renegade”.


Moreover, consider the question of promotion. Suppose some intrepid academic rebel penned a brilliantly prescient article, predicting precisely the disastrous course the peace process would follow, the gigantic wave of carnage it would precipitate, the terror it would bring to Israeli streets, cafes and buses; and the deprivation and devastation it would bring to the Palestinian-Arabs –particularly in Gaza.


Admission & promotion criteria (cont.)

Anyone, even remotely familiar with the atmosphere that pervaded the academic milieu at the time, would know—as a matter of certainty—that such an article, no matter how exhaustively researched and/or tightly argued, would have little to no chance of publication in any major journal in the field of political science, international relations or any related discipline.


By contrast, if an article, echoing received wisdom of the time, set out a glowing prognosis of how the Middle East was on the threshold of a new era of peace and prosperity, it would have little difficulty in finding its way into the pages of respected academic publications.

So, if the criterion for promotion is one’s record of publication, who is likely be promoted? The candidate who got it totally wrong, but can point to a long list of publications? Or the candidate who got it exactly right, but had no record of published research? The answer is of course painfully clear—sadly reinforcing the lamentable state of affairs in the Israeli academe, so succinctly conveyed by Prof. Karsh in the introductory excerpt: “In this Orwellian world where war is peace and ignorance is strength, not only are the falsifiers not censured – they are applauded.”


Indeed they are!

“…solution is to establish new institutions”  


None of these detrimental defects will be remedied by preventing a lecturer from expressing his/her political credo in class, or by compelling him/her to present opposing perspectives to his/her students. Indeed, how realistic is it to expect a radical left-wing professor to present the views of right-wing conservatism in anything approaching an adequate and equitable fashion?

No, the quest for a comprehensive and fundamental remedy must be conducted in an entirely different direction—not by quashing expression  of certain positions, but by providing alternative frameworks and mechanisms for the expression of opposing  positions that can effectively challenge the dominant (indeed, domineering) paradigm that currently monopolizes the academic discourse.


In this I find myself in complete agreement with Eydar, both when he warns:  “no ethical code will open the doors of the left-wing monasteries to the right-wing “heretics” who dare to think differently than the pseudo-liberals who dominate them”;  and when he prescribes: “The solution is to establish new institutions and think tanks as an alternative”.


I totally agree and —in the interests of full disclosure—this is the major thrust of my endeavor at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, established precisely for this purpose: To establish a “theater of engagement” in which the Left-wing academic elites are compelled to engage intellectual adversaries, and in which their doctrinaire positions can be publically exposed for the dangerous drivel that they really are.   

Accordingly, I call on the Education Minister to channel his efforts (and resources) into this and other like-minded enterprises. I have little doubt that this strategy—of  fostering  more robust debate, rather than trying to straight-jacket it—will be far more fruitful in remedying the ailment he so accurately diagnosed.   



Israel’s Experience and Technologies Can Help Transform Agriculture in India

Originally Published in FirstPost in November.

Over the last 10 years, I have had the good fortune of meeting hundreds of small-scale farmers all over India. I came to appreciate their hard work, eagerness to progress, and the difficult physical and economic environment in which they work.

Farmers bitterly complain about these hardships, but they always light up when I mention that I am Israeli. Even in the remotest of villages, farmers are somehow well aware and appreciative of Israel’s agricultural achievements. Unfortunately, however, very few of those who adore Israel’s technologies also use them in their own farms. A tremendous potential therefore remains largely unfulfilled.

Indian agriculture has made incredible progress over the last few decades, but it needs to undergo a deep transformation. It must make more efficient use of scarce water resources, lest they deplete. It must make more efficient use of nitrogen fertilizers, lest they continue to pollute water and sicken children. It must make more judicious use of pesticides, lest they continue to poison farmers. And it must diversify.

Israel’s experience and its technologies can help, so the growing agricultural cooperation between the two countries is heartening. Several Indian states have opened Centres of Excellence with the Israeli government. Cooperation in the private sector is also growing.

Last week, an Israeli business and academic delegation, led by President Reuven Rivlin, was hosted by President Pranab Mukherjeein Agro Tech 2016 in Chandigarh. President Rivlin declared that “when Israeli companies and Indian farmers meet, they can mage magic happen”. In a seminar organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Tel Aviv University, called ‘Digital Pathways in Indian Agriculture’, Israeli and Indian scientists and businessmen introduced exciting new technologies with the potential to transform the Indian agricultural landscape.

As exciting as technological innovations are, making them impactful will require a broadening of perspective. Agronomists and plant scientists have made incredible progress in understanding what crops need in order to flourish. Now, we need to develop a similar understanding of what farmers need in order to flourish. Without such an understanding, even the most revolutionary technologies will likely remain unused by the hundreds of millions of smallholders who grow India’s food.

Take drip irrigation, the most famous Israeli agricultural technology. Drip irrigation is proven to deliver the dual benefit of increased production and reduced water, fertilizer and herbicide requirements, exactly what so many Indian farmers need. Why then does the market for drip irrigation, while growing, still represent only a small fraction of Indian farmers?

The answers to this and related questions have to do more with economics than with agronomy, and more with farmers than with the crops they grow. The problem is that finding business models and government policies that can spread improved technologies sustainably has simply turned out to be as difficult a puzzle as developing these technologies in the first place.

It is therefore not for lack of effort or resources that a country that has mastered nuclear and satellite technology is still struggling to replace antiquated farming practices or lift its farmers out of poverty. The challenge is much more complicated than it may seem. And I don’t mean to suggest no programmes are successful. For example, in some states, like Gujarat, drip irrigation has been spreading rapidly in recent years, likely thanks to effective administration of the national drip subsidy programme. But we know too little about what works and what doesn’t and why and when.

We need to direct the same kind of energies that we put into the “crop” aspect of the challenge into the “human” aspect of the challenge. Frankly, it doesn’t help that the majority of India’s brightest and most ambitious young direct their brainpower to the fields of engineering, medicine and information and communication technology, while so few choose to take on the challenge of sustainable rural development (of course, there are wonderful exceptions, but they are too few).

India can surely succeed in transforming its agriculture, and we in Israel are eager to help. Let us begin by recognising the importance of not just the “technical element”, but also the “human element”. Let us build a bi-national, long-term and systematic programme that brings together academia, the public sector and the private sector; engineers, agronomists, plant scientists, social scientists, policy specialists and entrepreneurs. Let us harness the amazing brainpower, entrepreneurship and creativity of our two countries’ young generations, and get them involved. And most importantly, let us not shy away from leaving our offices and our labs and our experimental farms and stepping into farmers’ own fields.

Academia can have a powerful role to play. My own institution, Tel Aviv University, is leading the way by forging alliances with leading Indian universities and working with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to carve new paths forward. We can use these collaborations to create a prestigious programme for outstanding, brilliant young Israelis and Indians to work together in small inter-disciplinary teams, and develop and test, in fields and villages across India, new approaches and models for adapting and disseminating relevant technologies to farmers. Governments can provide support and then scale up and implement those approaches that prove to be effective.

I believe a programme of this kind can radically change the perception of agriculture by young Indians from a thing of the past to a science of the future, and attract bright, dedicated and idealistic students from both India and Israel. These students will forge personal ties that will strengthen our relationship as countries, and achieve something that only they, if anyone, can do: help make Indian agriculture a model for the other emerging economies who are facing similar challenges.


Israel Behind the News [Dec 14, 2015]

Erdogan Tries to Break Out of his Isolation by Pandering to…Israel?

It’s been a tough month for our favorite ISIS and Muslim Brotherhood President, Erdogan. You almost have to feel bad for him. Russia is beginning to tighten the noose with troops to his South and now in Armenia.  With that Greee, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt are moving to create an East Mediterranean alliance in connection to the gas fields their countries share.  That would essentially cut out Turkey from their Sunni brothers and the EU.  The tables have certainly turned and one should not expect Israel to worry about mending ties with Turkey anytime soon.  With Russia moving in and the Eastern block of the EU looking like they are truly separate from their Western cohorts, Israel stands in a fantastic position to become a major player.

Roger Waters and Rivlin Play the Haaretz Conference

It’s true they were both there, but Rivlin tried in his typically pseudo nationalist way to defend Israel at what can only be described as something akin to a blood libel.  What makes Rivlin thinks he can sway these sort of people is anyone’s guess, but unfortunately Rivlin really believes in most of the comments he has made since he became President.  Thankfully it is a ceremonial position.  If not we would be in big trouble.

Hungary prime minister: Europe looks like ‘battlefield’ because of migrants

What a surprise.  These aren’t your typical migrants. The Arab world has long believed the best way to win over the non-believing nations, was to literally win them over, by becoming the predominant culture. Europe seems to be falling and falling fast.  Eastern Europe though will have none of it and that is good for Israel.  Nothing beats finding common ground with historically anti-Semitic nations.