Prof punished for refusing WB service should sue University

An Israeli academic speaks out in defense of another, Professor Idan Landau, whose pay was docked by Ben Gurion University after he refused to do IDF reserve duty in the West Bank

By Jerry Haber

Some of my loyal readers have noticed that I have not blogged for a long time, almost a month. I should explain.

I am now the Director of one of the largest university Jewish Studies programs in the country, and I have no time for anything “extra-curricular” as I learn how to do my job in the best manner possible. I am also working in my almost non-existent spare time on an article for a book entitled, After Zionism. (My chapter is tentatively entitled, “Zionism After Israel”. I have decided that Israeli Post-Zionism is soooo 1980’s, and that it is now the time for Zionist Post-Israelism.)

Much of my writing has been motivated by moral outrage. But it is hard to keep the story-line fresh if moral outrage is a never ending experience. Whether it is an AP story about how the Gazans cannot press claims against the IDF for Operation Cast Lead because they are not allowed to travel to courts within Israel, or because they are asked to pay ridiculous sums of money to cover court fees; or whether it is an unfortunate New York Times Op-Ed by Justice Richard Goldstone that repeats Israeli talking points and makes NGO Monitor’s Gerald Steinberg happy; or whether it is the hypocrisy of the Israel Lobby-castrated Obama Administration, which works hard behind the scenes to thwart the Palestinian Authority’s UN bid in the name of a dead peace process, and “deplores” Israel’s continuing expansion of settlements; whether it is the proposed law in the Knesset to tax or limit or control foreign grants to Israeli human-rights NGOs, while right-wing “Jewish-rights” NGOs hide their donors from the public view….the list goes on and on.

So I will just come out of my burrow to express solidarity for my colleague and cohort, the linguist (and blogger) Prof. Idan Landau. Prof. Landau once again refused to do his reserve duty on the West Bank, and for this he was sent again to jail this past May for a week. He took his research with him, and arranged makeup classes for his students. When he returned, he discovered that he had been docked his salary by Ben Gurion University. On what grounds? The university said that since he was in jail, he wasn’t doing what he was paid for, which was to conduct research. When it was pointed out to the university that he had taken his books to jail, the university said that National Insurance did not pay compensation to the university for the time lost, which is what is done for academics who do their reserve duty. When it was pointed out to the university that it didn’t need to be compensated since Landau was doing his job off campus (not unknown for, oh, virtually everybody who works at a university anywhere in the world), the university had no response.

Landau is now not only defended by the Faculty Committee but by such noted neoconservatives like Ruth Gavison. After all, Gavison must realize that the point of Ben Gurion’s exercise is to punish its lecturer for his refusal to guard illegal West Bank outposts, and not to dock his pay because he is studying linguistics off-campus.

Idan Landau is not only suffering for his own “sins” — he went to jail for that — but for the “sins” of Neve Gordon, Oren Yiftachel, Lev Grinberg, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, and lesser known left-wingers that cost the university donations.

Landau should sue the pants off of BGU and its president, Rivka Carmy. At the very least he should force a retraction and an apology from the institution. Until the university installs webcams and gps’s to follow and monitor the movements of the faculty, the only way they can know whether research has been conducted is when the faculty fills out its annual reports.

But, of course, I am talking rationally — the last thing to do when conversing with a patriotic ideologue like Prof. Rivka Carmy.

Jeremiah (Jerry) Haber is the nom de plume of an orthodox Jewish studies and philosophy professor, who divides his time between Israel and the US. This article was published on Jerry’s blog, The Magnes Zionist. It is reposted here with the author’s permission.


Prof. Idan Landau on +972: Nabi Saleh: A tiny village’s struggle againt the occupation