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Friday, August 10, 2007

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me

I've been ignoring the story that has been dominating the Israeli media since Tuesday's expulsion of Jewish residents from Hebron. I suppose I should say something about it.

The story is about Professor Hillel Weiss of Bar Ilan University who was captured on film during the expulsion cursing the IDF regional commander of the Hebron district for expelling the Jewish residents of the marketplace:
Weiss was filmed saying of Hebron Division commander Colonel Yehuda Fuchs: "I hope his mother will be bereaved, his wife will be a widow and his children orphans," as security forces evacuated more than 200 protesters and settlers from the wholesale market in the West Bank city of Hebron.
What Weiss said was nasty and over the top. But it was also said in the heat of anger. After a day of Weiss being pulverized in the Israeli media as if he were totally unconnected with what was going on in Hebron other than the placement of his political sympathies, someone finally mentioned that his children and grandchildren were one of the families expelled. Couldn't that at least partly explain his reaction?

And the reaction of the politically correct chattering classes has been even more out of proportion than Weiss' own words:
Bar Ilan University President Moshe Kaveh on Thursday slammed Hillel Weiss, a professor at the institution, for verbally assaulting a senior Israel Defense Forces commander during the forced evacuation of the Hebron market on Tuesday.


Also Thursday, Judea and Samaria District Police launched a criminal investigation against Weiss over the incident for suspected incitement.

Kaveh said the university is considering trying Wiess in an internal disciplinary tribunal, in addition to the police probe. Such a measure is rarely taken by universities.

"His statements were horrific and need condemnation and public denunciation... The university views his actions very gravely, and demands he take responsibility for them."

The professor also said that the security officers who carried out the evacuation are "worse than the Germans."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak approached Attorney General Menachem Mazuz Thursday on the matter, requesting that Mazuz consider legal action. IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi ordered the chief army prosecutor to discuss the matter with Mazuz.

Similarly, Absorption Minister Yaakov Edrey approached Interior Security Minister Avi Dichter, requesting that he carry out a police investigation.
This is beyond absurd. Weiss didn't threaten anyone and he didn't call on anyone to act upon his words. He called upon God. Are we now going to criminalize the appending of the words "Hashem Yinkom Damo" (may God avenge his blood) after the names of people murdered in terror attacks because they might encourage someone to go out and kill a few Arabs in revenge?

I should hasten to add that the media here never say HY"D and always use the neutral - and non-religious - "zichro l'bracha" (may mentioning him be blessed) when discussing dead terror victims. (Religious people say "zichrono l'bracha" (may his memory be blessed) when discussing non-terror victims who have died). But as far as I know, until now, no one has proposed criminalizing the words Hashem Yinkom Damo!

As to the university, the only criteria by which Weiss - who is apparently a tenured professor in the Department of Jewish Studies at Bar Ilan - should be judged are his teaching ability and his research and writing. As long as his activities outside the university aren't affecting one of those, the university should have nothing to say about him except to disassociate itself from his remarks without all the fanfare of disciplinary proceedings.

But unfortunately, those of us who live here know that the politically correct left turns everything here into a political question. For example, your humble blogger was berated by a senior partner in a law firm in early 1998 because the partner came to my car to make a conference call overseas with me while we were at a restaurant, and saw that I had a sticker from Arutz Sheva with the wayfarer's prayer (Tefillat HaDerech) stuck to the glove box. "Those are the people who incited to murder Rabin (in 1995)," he scolded me. It wasn't relevant to my work performance, but it's one reason why I no longer work for that law firm. So as much as I sympathize with Hillel Weiss for the reactions he is suffering now, he had to know before he "lost it" that the reaction would be like this.
In response to Ashkenazi's censure of his remarks, Weiss said "cursing is in the framework of the right to free speech. Rabbi Ovadia Yossef and soccer fans act in the same manner."

"Nobody has the moral right to investigate me. The police and army would be better off taking a look at their recent actions instead of investigating me. I don't care about this investigation," Weiss continued.
He's right about that. But it doesn't mean he won't find himself in early retirement without a pension - and possibly even in Tel Mond - when this is over.

Update 2:47 PM

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has now demanded that Bar Ilan fire Professor Weiss.


At 4:29 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

If only the people would demand that Barak and Olmert be fired! They're not only dangerously delusional in their schemes, literally giving aid and comfort to the enemy, but now showing hypersensitive tyrannical tendencies, unable to take into account the inflammatory context that they created. The #1 job of a government is to protect and defend its people, not to turn on them. A good shepherd doesn't beat his sheep, but the wolves who want to devour them. Anyone can see the professor's heart for the nation, and no actual harm done from his words spoken under extreme provocation and duress. It's pitiful Barak/Olmert can't distinguish national passion and healthy protest from a true threat. Barak's response is totally disproportionate.

At 8:23 PM, Blogger HEADJANITOR said...

The previous commentor wrote:

"It's pitiful Barak/Olmert can't distinguish national passion and healthy protest from a true threat. Barak's response is totally disproportionate."

In fact, I'm pretty sure that Barak does perceive a "true threat", that is, one to his ability to retain political power, in the face of a growing maelstrom of Israeli public opinion AGAINST the current, despotic regime.

In that light, Barak's repsponse doesn't appear "disproportionate" at all, but perfectly predictable.

At 1:18 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Wiess is a kiddush hashem. Barak may be a good loyal israeli, but he and his ilk are kastner sheissjuden, and the better 6 million died. Maybe his seed will join the olmerdes in paris and join the gentile gene pool.

At 2:17 AM, Blogger Stuart said...

As far as I'm concerned, leaders, if they do not genuinely repent, that enable or cause expulsions of Jews on the basis of being Jews deserve to be cursed. This is the conduct of the ENEMY of the Jews. The words of the curse do not disturb me in the least. The use of the word "incitement" as a catch-all for the government to be able to suppress speech is characteristic of fascism unless the speech is truly directed at another person reasonably expected to promptly act on those words.


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