|Professor Eyal Ben Ari|
By Steven Plaut
Yesterday saw one of the most important developments in the annals of Israeli higher education. Yesterday the Hebrew University decided to fire Prof. Eyal Ben Ari.
We have been reporting about the radical anti-Israel leftist sociologist Ben Ari for several years. Ben Ari, who markets himself as a feminist sociologist and is listed by the university as part of Women's Studies, was the main supervisor of that now notorious thesis of the Master's Student Tal Nitzan which purported to "prove" that the reason that Israeli soldiers never rape Arab women is because the Jews are so racist. The thesis was not only accepted by the university but was awarded a prize, and the President and the Rector of the university defended the content of the thesis (and not just the "academic freedom" to write such garbage).
Soon after that "thesis" turned the Hebrew University in to an international laughingstock, Ben Ari himself was arrested and investigated under suspicion of raping several of his graduate students. The students filed complaints with the police and the university. They also accused Ben Ari of using extortion to get sex from them and of lowering their grades or denying them funding if they refused to "put out." At first the university circled its wagons around Ben Ari. The Attorney General was reluctant to indict him, probably because the job of the leftist Attorney General is to serve as a shield for leftists and protect them from indictment.
Eventually, after a new President and Rector took over, the university itself charged Ben Ari before its own ethics disciplinary committee. He was convicted of "conducting improper relations" and behavior not befitting a faculty member, meaning molesting students. He was suspended from duties with no salary for two years. The university then appealed that decision, demanding stronger punishment. Yesterday the same disciplinary committee decided to fire Ben Ari altogether and the university has announced it intends to do so.
This is all extraordinary in Israel. Ben Ari had tenure and technically was not convicted in criminal court of anything (mainly because the Attorney General and the police were too pusillanimous to indict him). Moreover, Ben Ari is a radical anti-Israel leftist, which would usually make him untouchable in Israeli academia. But the university had to choose whether to be politically correct and defend Ben Ari's behavior, which would enrage feminists and other enlightened souls, especially in the media, or deal with Ben Ari by tossing him overboard. It chose the latter.
You can read more on the background to the Ben Ari affair here: http://frontpagemag.com/2010/07/19/a-tale-of-two-professors/ Haaretz, to its credit, has lead the campaign against Ben Ari in the media. You can see its report on his firing here: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/professor-fired-for-improper-relations-with-three-students-1.376264
When the story first broke, my favorite part of it was the fact that Ben Ari used university research funds to purchase vibrators to use on his students when he coerced them to engage in trysts with him in conferences. You can see the story of the vibrator and its photo here: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Blogs/Message.aspx/2958
Ben Ari, for his part, is defiant and has his shysters claiming that he was by and large exonerated. When he was originally molesting his students, the Hebrew University had not yet adopted a code of behavior that prohibited such behavior. Because it was technically not prohibited at the time, when the university indicted Ben Ari at its disciplinary commission, it decided not to charge him with violating such prohibitions. Ben Ari and his shysters are spinning that decision as if he were "exonerated" for those transgressions by the university. They claim he will try to get his job back in civil court. I look forward to hearing them advance a "Right to Rape" argument. In any case, perhaps Ben Ari can claim he raped his students just to prove he is not racist.
Another twist is that it is well known in Israel that Ben Ari was not the only professor in the Hebrew University sociology department who was pressuring the women students there to engage in hanky panky. At least one other faculty member has confessed and been found guilty, and students claim there are many others, although not every single one, who also molest them sexually. The Hebrew University has yet to take any action in those matters.
But the most refreshing aspect of this is that at long last an Israeli university has dared to fire a tenured faculty member. There are many scores of incompetent, treasonous, abusive, unqualified faculty members in Israel who break laws, engage in treason, call for violence, engage in violence, and otherwise thoroughly deserve to be fired just like Ben Ari. We can only hope the universities will someday have the courage to take similar actions against their tenured traitors.