Anat Matar, professor of philosophy at Tel Aviv University, is now under investigation (in English, here; Hebrew original, here) by Israel’s attorney general for sending out an email with a picture of an Israeli soldier and calling him a “murderer.”
She accused the soldier, specifically, of murdering a Palestinian during one of the weekly violent riots against the Israeli security fence in the West Bank village of Bil’in. The army says “The soldier in the picture definitely did not participate in that event.” Matar later apologized and said the soldier may not have been the one who shot the Palestinian, but the army said, “We protest events in which the reputation of our soldiers is tarnished….” The investigation of Matar is continuing.
Matar is herself no stranger to the Bil’in riots; she was arrested for participating in one in 2005. Why would an Israeli professor be taking part in falsely accusing an Israeli soldier of murder, or in violent protests against the security fence that was built in the midst of the so-called Second Intifada to stop terrorists on their way to carry out mass-murder attacks in Israeli buses, malls, and restaurants?
No one aware of Matar’s background would be surprised.
“I was raised in a leftist family,” she told an interviewer, “and was involved in the past in all sorts of political activities.” Indeed, there is no form of political activity--or verbal expression--that Anat Matar will shrink from as long as it is aimed at weakening, discrediting, and destroying the state of Israel that grants her the free and comfortable life of a successful academic.
The many anti-Israeli petitions Matar has signed include: a 2002 call to “world civil society” to “take immediate direct action to stop Israel’s all-out war against the Palestinian people” (emphasis in original); a 2004 call on the Irish government to “support the Campaign to end the special [EU-Israeli] trade agreements”; a 2009 call to foreign embassies in Israel for “urgent international intervention” to stop Israel from conducting the war in Gaza; a 2009 call on the EU not to upgrade relations with Israel; a 2009 call on President-elect Barack Obama for divestment and pressure against Israel; a call (undated) on the United Kingdom to boycott “Israeli products” and “Israeli leisure tourism,” “end…UK firms’ investment in Israel,” and “suspend[d] British government trade agreements with Israel”; and an ongoing call to Israeli university students to refuse military service in the West Bank and Gaza.
In 2005, Matar also circulated an appeal to release all Palestinian security prisoners from Israeli jails. That same year she circulated an appeal by the Israeli radical-Left organization Yesh Gvul to “help us flush out Israeli war criminals.”
While she does not leave Israel, instead enjoying the conveniences of a professor’s life, Dr. Matar views the country as purely evil and wants it to be ostracized, boycotted, economically devastated, overrun by terrorists, and invaded by foreign forces while its own army crumbles. One could wish, though, that she was “only” involved in circulating libelous pictures, signing and circulating treasonous petitions, and the like. But Matar’s activities go well beyond that, especially in the context of her two favorite causes: against the Israeli army and in favor of Palestinian terrorists.
A few years ago Matar’s son, Haggai, made a small media splash in Israel when he led a small group of high school students who refused military service and ended up getting short jail sentence. Interviewed about her son in 2003, she stated, “I’ll only say I’m very proud of him…. I know he’s doing the right thing…. I can’t imagine him serving in this army, and it’s not like him to get a release on a fake basis. It’s simply not like him. I’m not at all against people who choose this way of avoiding the army. But I do think that the Israeli army has reached such a stage that serving in it is immoral.”
Matar, in other words, supports both “open” refusal like her son’s and sneaky, tricky draft-dodging. Loyal Israelis and friends of Israel know that in 2006 and 2009, Israel fought wars against vicious terrorist organizations--Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza--that openly and proudly seek Israel’s eradication and initiated the wars with kidnappings of Israeli soldiers and rocket barrages on Israeli civilians. Loyal Israelis and friends of Israel know that a major draft-dodging movement would mean leaving Israel defenseless before such enemies and subject to violent destruction.
It all means nothing to Anat Matar. Asked in the same interview how she would “suggest that American peace activists help the refuser movement to end the occupation” (that is, Israel’s presence in the West Bank and then-presence in Gaza, which “ended” itself), she replied, “I’m far from being optimistic. But of course, pressure on the U.S. government, boycotting Israel in all sorts of ways--in short, making manifest the similarity between Israel and Apartheid South Africa….”
For Matar--like the abovementioned terrorist organizations--the Israeli army is a hated enemy and there is no slander she won’t use against it. In a 2004 article (in Hebrew) she called it “an army…whose daily routine is the killing of civilians,” and in a 2002 article posted on the radically anti-Israeli website Electronic Intifada, she wrote that
The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] rules the current government, just as it ruled the previous one and the one before that. The prime ministers and ministers of defense…know no thought or feeling that is not militarized. The IDF, and the state it tows behind, are waging a war the sole goal of which is the utter subjugation of the Palestinian people living in the occupied territories…. The IDF is a criminal army. Immersion in the details of daily events--including the shootings of children and elderly women--diverts our gaze from the overall view, from the broad move being undertaken here, minute by minute, by well-disciplined soldiers.
The soldiers’ role is to crumble the Palestinian population. Unthinkingly, they are destroying not only the physical infrastructure of West Bank and Gaza Strip cities, not only homes and roads and fields and orchards, but also every trace of the human spirit….
She also lauds her son Haggai “for succeeding not to drown in the IDF fascism that the education system in Israel tried so hard to teach him” and calls on everyone to “come out in support--public, stubborn, clear and consistent--for refusers.”
A non-Jewish American professor, say, who wrote such tripe would be considered rabidly anti-Israeli to an extent verging on anti-Semitism. Anat Matar writes such tripe, with all its poisonous influence, within Israel--and receives for it a plum, taxpayer-supported position at one of the country’s leading universities.
Indeed, given the identity between Matar’s attitude toward Israel and that of the terrorist organizations threatening and attacking it, her clear-cut sympathy for terrorists is also no surprise. In a 2007 article in the newsletter of Adalah, an Israeli Arab NGO that works to delegitimize Israel, Matar argued that security prisoners in Israeli jails--a category that refers to convicted terrorists--should be reclassified as “political prisoners” and that anti-Israeli terror should be redefined as “resistance.” In support of the former view she quoted approvingly from an article by Walid Daka, a terrorist serving a life sentence for the 1984 abduction and murder of an Israeli soldier named Moshe Tamam.
Daka, by the way--albeit formally classified as a security prisoner--has been allowed to obtain a bachelor’s degree by correspondence from Israel’s Open University and has also gotten married since being incarcerated.
But for Matar, who presumably would applaud this leniency, Israel gets credit for absolutely nothing. Calling these incarcerated terrorists security prisoners, she writes, means “de-politicization of their acts and the blurring of their political aims,” and “rejection of the prisoners’ subjectivity, both as individuals who deserve special treatment, and as rational and essentially free beings who aspire to realize their freedom.” Note that Matar’s son, to her approval, did not put himself in harm’s way as Moshe Tamam did; for Dr. Matar, who lauded his “refusal,” there is simply no justified fight that Israel can possibly fight, and it is people who send the blood and body parts of Israeli men, women, and children flying in bombing attacks who win her advocacy.
In an article last April in the Marxist Monthly Review, Matar’s complaint was that Arab citizens of Israel (as opposed to West Bank and Gaza Palestinians) who are jailed for terrorist attacks are also called security prisoners, but are not considered for inclusion in prisoner deals because it would mean violating Israeli sovereignty. “This dual attitude,” she asserts, “reflects two aspects of Zionism and its racist categorization of Arabs. One aspect is the inculcation of fear…. The other aspect is the patronizing arrogance that generates a view of the Palestinian citizens of Israel as objects in the hands of their masters…. This dynamic is clearly a profound contradiction that derives…from the essence of Zionism.”
In other words, for Anat Matar, from the essence of evil: the Zionist movement and the state it created, Israel. Note that, from the time Matar’s son refused service up to 2009, Israel had augmented its “occupation of the Palestinians” by removing every last Israeli from Gaza and leaving the Strip entirely in Palestinian hands, allowing a new Palestinian militia to be formed on the West Bank under American tutelage, and by a succession of Israeli prime ministers--including those once categorized as “rightist” and “hard-line”--offering the Palestinians statehood even as Hamas rules Gaza and the Fatah-run West Bank, as well, continues to be an incubator of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic hatred. For Anat Matar, it all makes no difference--since Zionism is evil at the core in any case, has no right to defend itself, and deserves to be violently attacked. It sounds as if the monolithically wicked Zionism of her fantasies is a projection of something very ugly in herself.