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The Leftist vs. the General By: Steven Plaut
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, November 19, 2004


This week's newspapers in Israel carried a news item about a new senior military appointment in the Israeli Defense Forces: Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi was appointed commander of the Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip this week. He replaces commander Brigadier General Shmuel Zakai.

Kochavi, 40, served for the past year as the commander of an elite army division. Previously he served as commander of the regular paratrooper division and excelled in battle in the territories during and after Operation Defensive Shield. Kochavi commanded division troops that took control of Nablus during that operation. Kochavi is considered one of the IDF's outstanding field commanders. Kochavi is scheduled to take up the post in two weeks.

But there is one more important piece of information about General Kochavi. The general and I have something in common: General Aviv Kochavi and I have both been the victims of malicious harassment by Neve Gordon, the anti-Semitic lecturer in political science at Ben Gurion University, best known for his pronouncements that Israel is a fascist, apartheid, terrorist state.

Gordon filed a malicious "libel suit" against me in Nazareth court last year because he was upset that I had dared to criticize his public political writings (he is a syndicated columnist, including for the viciously anti-Semitic "Counterpunch" magazine published by anti-Semite Alexander Cockburn) and also his public political activities. (I criticized the fact that he had joined the "Solidarity" pro-terror demonstrators who illegally entered Ramallah and served as human shields for Arafat in order to interfere with Israeli counter-terror military operations.) In other words, I criticized an illegal public political activity of Gordon.

Neve Gordon was particularly upset that I had labeled him a "groupie of Holocaust Denier Norman Finkelstein" after he had published articles singing the praises of Norman Finkelstein (who publishes vicious articles defaming Holocuast survivors and questioning whether six million Jews were actually killed by the Nazis). Gordon even comparing Finkelstein ethically to the Prophets of the Bible. Gordon's articles have been published on the Zundelsite, the website of the notorious Nazi and Holocaust Denier Ernst Zundel (see this website), as well as many other anti-Jewish and anti-Israel websites and magazines. Gordon was offended by my criticism of his political behavior. He claimed it was "libel" and the suit he filed is now working its slow way through the Israeli court system. Gordon's purpose in this suit was to harass me for criticizing his politics, to silence me, and to maliciously cause me to bear legal costs of fighting off the frivolous suit. For those interested, more background information on this matter is here and also here.

I, however, am not the only victim of Neve Gordon's harassment.

Gordon has conducted a campaign of slander, defilement, vilification, and defamation.against this very same General Kochavi, the Israeli military hero that was appointed this week to the senior post described above.

Beginning in 2002, Gordon published an article declaring Kachavi (back then still a colonel) to be a war criminal. The article was published on dozens of websites and in magazines, and in several languages, including Hebrew, English, Arabic, German, and Italian. It not only personally smeared Kochavi falsely. It could reasonably be interpreted to have been an attempt to motivate acts of violence against Kochavi, perhaps even incitement to murder. At the very least, it was a clear attempt to get Kochavi indicted before the International Court of Justice in the Hague or some similar outfit on trumped up charges.

The article is reprinted in full below. You will notice how Gordon signs his piece smearing Kochavi while openly listing his affiliation with Ben Gurion University, in violation of University instructions and prohibitions on such behavior without a clear accompanying declaration stating that the views expressed are NOT those of the university! In this article, as you can see for yourself, Gordon declares that Kochavi (he spells the name Kohavi) committed atrocities and war crimes against innocent Palestinian civilians, having given direct personal command to troops to do these.

Now it goes without saying that this is all Gordon's fabrication. There have been no charges at all filed against Kochavi for his behavior in the battle that Gordon describes, in Israel or anywhere else. Kochavi's troops were hunting for bands of vicious terrorists, including suicide bombers, who had killed hundreds of Israelis, a carnage that does not interest Gordon at all in the article. Gordon accuses Kochavi of ordering assorted human rights violations that even the worst anti-Israel propaganda outfits did not claim took place in this battle.

Gordon's claim that Kachavi ordered troops to utilize Palestinian civilians as human shields is not only preposterous, but a downright blood libel.

So here we have the spectacle of the same person who files a libel suit because he is outraged that someone criticizes his published political opinions, yet he launches a worldwide campaign of personal vilification against one of Israel's greatest military heroes -- and a private person, to boot. Let us emphasize that Aviv Kochavi, unlike Gordon, is a private person and not a public person. Gordon is a syndicated columnist who also has lead and represented assorted far-Left, pro-Palestinian political organizations. Public discussion of Gordon and his opinions and behavior is a legitimate media topic. Kochavi, however, is a private person, does not write in the media, represents no one. He is just a private man doing his job.

Gordon's double standard regarding what constitutes "libel" is mind-numbing. Kochavi was to have been called to testify against Gordon in Gordon's own SLAPP suit against me, but the judge truncated the discovery process before that was possible. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation, and SLAPP suits are anti-democratic "libel" suits designed to silence critics through malicious legal harassment.

If you would like to express your opinion of Gordon smearing General Kochavi in a worldwide defamation campaign, all this while writing in an official capacity as representative of Ben Gurion University, you could share their thoughts with the officials of Ben Gurion University at:

Professor Avishay Braverman
President, Ben-Gurion University
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
Fax: 972-8-647-2937<
Email: avishay@bgumail.bgu.ac.il

Professor Jimmy Weinblatt
Rector, Ben-Gurion University
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
Tel. 972-7-6461105
Fax: 972-7-6472945
Email: weinb@bgumail.bgu.ac.il

Professor Avishai Henik
Dean of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, P.O.B. 653 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
Tel: 972-8-6472945
Email: henik@bgumail.bgu.ac.il

With copies to
Lis Gaines
President
Vivien K. Marion
Executive Vice President
American Associates of Ben Gurion University
1430 Broadway, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10018
Tel: 212-687-7721
Fax: 212-302-6443
Email: info@aabgu.org

Anyone wishing to express an opinion of the fact that a lecturer at a state-funded Israeli university is leading such a vilification campaign against a senior army officer can share their thoughts with Israeli Minister of Education Limor Livnat at Israel's Minitry of Education, Kiryat Ben Gurion, Jerusalem, Israel and

Telephone: 972-2-6753220
Telephone 2: 972-2-6753934
Fax: 972-2-6753726
Email: nailto:llivnat@knesset.gov.il

 

If you have an opinion on the question of whether or not the Gordon article below constitutes criminal incitement to murder or defame a public-service figure (a crime in Israel), you may share your thoughts with Israel's Attorney General (His title is "Legal Advisor to the

Government) Mr. Mani Mazuz, at the Israel Ministry of Justice at Ministry Of Justice - Head Office
Address : Salah -a - Din 29 P.O.Box 49029 Jerusalem 91490
Tel : 02-6466666
Department Of Public Inquiries
Tel : 02-6466340/321
Fax : 02-6466357 (you can also do so through their website.)

Or to Israel's State Prosecutor's Jerusalem Office at 4 Uzi Hason Street, POB 843, Jerusalem 91007 Israel,
Phone 972-2- 6208122
Fax 972-2-6222385

A partial listing of other web sites where the Gordon article defaming General Aviv Kochavi has been published includes websites all over the world. Here are a few of the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and communist web magazines:

http://www.ccmep.org/hotnews2/aletter040802.html
http://www.alternet.org/story/12751
http://www.zmag.org/content/Mideast/gordon_openletter.cfm
http://www.lovearth.net/howdidyoubecomeawarcriminal.htm
http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/sr263/gordon.htm
http://www.peacelink.nu/ISRAEL/Israel_openletter.html
http://www.informationguerrilla.org/i_crimini_di_guerra_di_israele.htm
http://www.kultour-service.de/lage/020404b.htm
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wdie-02/d02-63.htm
http://studweb.hig.no/kus_alta/political/HowDidYouBecomeaWarCriminal.htm
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/newswire/archive70.shtml
http://www.middleeast.org/premium/read.cgi?category=Magazine&num=734&month=4&year=2002&function=text
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2002/04/26631.html
http://italy.indymedia.org/news/2002/04/45256.php
http://www.natcath.com/NCR_Online/archives/040502/040502l.htm
http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-0204/msg00064.html
http://squat.net/tmc/msg02723.html
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wdie-02/d02-63.htm

Here is the full, uncut text of the Gordon article:

April 8, 2002

A Letter to the IDF's Paratrooper Commander

Colonel Aviv Kohavi, How Did You Become a War Criminal?

By Dr. Neve Gordon

To Colonel Aviv Kohavi, Brigade Commander of the Israeli Defense Forces Paratroopers

I presume you remember me. In any event, I remember you. We first met in the paratrooper brigade. I was a platoon sergeant in the corporals company; you were a young platoon officer. Even then friends of mine who were serving with you in the same post in Lebanon related that you were a sensible, serious, and above all decent officer. The better part of our acquaintance occurred, though, at Hebrew University. We were studying towards our B.A. in Philosophy--you in preparation for a career in the military, I as a human rights activist. During that period we had more than one political discussion. I couldn't help but admire you. I found you to be a thinking person, imaginative, and judicious--quite different from the typical army officer that one meets at the university, one who registers merely to snatch a degree and to run off. Looking back, I believe that you really enjoyed your studies, a number of which, it should be noted, dealt with ethical theory. Years have passed since we last met. You became the paratroopers' brigade commander, I a lecturer in the department of politics and government at Ben Gurion University. On Thursday, March 1, 2002 I once again saw you, not face to face, but on television. You were on the news program: the commander of the troops that entered Balata refugee camp, near Nablus. You solemnly explained that at that very moment your soldiers were transmitting a forceful message to the Palestinian terrorists: the Israeli army will hunt them down in every nook and cranny. In the days after the interview, news began to trickle about what took place in the camp: prior to the incursion the Israeli military reigned terror on the inhabitants employing helicopters and tanks; then, Aviv, you imposed a curfew on the camp, blew up the electric transmission lines, cutting off electricity to 20,000 civilian inhabitants; bulldozers ruined the water supply pipe lines. Your soldiers, Aviv, then moved from house to house by smashing holes in the interior walls; they destroyed furniture and other property, and riddled bullets in water tanks on roof tops. The soldiers spread terror on the inhabitants, most of whom were women, elderly, and children. But that wasn't all. I learned that your soldiers also used inhabitants as human shields. Also, in the first few hours of the incursion the Palestinians had 120 wounded, and that you, Aviv, refused to allow ambulances to enter and leave the camp. There were, of course, several battles in the camp during the incursion; two Palestinians and one of your soldiers were killed. You also reported that you confiscated weapons and that your operation prevented future terrorist acts from happening. But you totally ignored the connection between Israeli military violence perpetrated in the Occupied Territories and Palestinian violence in Israel, as if the incursions into the camps and the reign of terror that you and your soldiers imposed do not drive Israel/Palestine into a blood bath from which none can escape. How, Aviv, do you think that your incursion affected the children whom you locked up for hours with other members of their families, while you searched their house and blasted holes through their walls? Did your incursion contribute a smithereen to peace, or did it instead spread seeds of hatred, despondence, and death in the crowded, poverty stricken, hopeless refugee camp? I have not stopped thinking about you since that television interview, trying to understand what was going on in your mind. What caused you to lead your soldiers --soldiers of the paratrooper brigade -- to a war against a civilian population? Aviv, I am presently teaching a course entitled "The Politics of Human Rights." One of the topics I discuss during the semester is the intifada and its lessons with respect to human rights. From the standpoint of international conventions, at least, your acts in Balata constitute blatant violations of human rights. Such acts are, in fact, war crimes. Aviv, what happened to the sensible and judicious officer? How did you become a war criminal?

Dr. Neve Gordon Department of Political Science Ben-Gurion University Beer Sheva, Israel


Steven Plaut is a professor at the Graduate School of the Business Administration at the University of Haifa and is a columnist for the Jewish Press. A collection of his commentaries on the current events in Israel can be found on his "blog" at www.stevenplaut.blogspot.com.


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