The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli English-language newspaper, has published an op-ed by British History professor Geoffery Alderman. In this op-ed, Alderman argues that academics in Israel should not be free to criticize the government’s policy, because the country is at war:
In peacetime, an academic should indeed be free to criticize, castigate, chastise and/or condemn not just the government of the country in which he lives and works, but the country itself. This freedom cannot be claimed when the country is at war and its very survival is at issue.
ISRAEL IS at war… In this deplorable situation I would have thought it the duty of every Israeli academic – no matter his/her party-political outlook – to think very seriously about whether anything they say or do is likely to give comfort to the many enemies of Israel.
This quote is actually the milder portion of the article. The author seems to imply that Israel should adopt policies such as shooting people on sight, media censorship, detention without trial, and executing people for saying anything that would give comfort to the “enemy”.
What is remarkable about this article is not the position it endorses. Although civil liberties in Israel are already restricted (especially for Palestinians), there is a significant constituency for curtailing them even further.
Those who try to quell criticism of government policy usually claim that they are just exercising their own freedom of speech. Indeed, some have even absurdly claimed that it is the government that is being freed expression, with marginal groups somehow achieving an absolute monopoly on the public discourse.
Professor Alderman, described as patron of the UK Council on Academic Freedom, is much more honest. His article brilliantly exposes his allies’ hypocrisy, and their true agenda: establishing a hyper-nationalist security state where criticism and free speech are suppressed.