Israeli professor accuses Israel of genocide in European

From the archive (legacy material)

Ilil Shahar | Maariv | 7 April 2004

In an article published in a Belgian newspaper, Dr. Lev Greenberg of Ben-Gurion University labels Israel’s actions “criminal” and calls on the world to stop Sharon immediately.
“The murder of Sheikh Yassin is part of an Israeli policy that can be described as symbolic genocide”. This claim was made by Ben-Gurion University professor Lev Greenberg in a recent article published in the Belgian daily ‘La Libre Belgique’. Greenberg, a member of the university’s political sociology department, served as spokesman for the “Yesh Gvul” peace organization in 1982, was imprisoned in 1987 for refusal to serve in the territories, and is an outspoken supporter of soldiers who currently refuse to serve there.
Greenberg’s article harshly attacks Israeli government policy. “The only people to suffer from the Holocaust are now performing genocide on the Palestinians”, he wrote. It is a criminal act. I appeal to Europe and the international community to save Israel from itself and from its government”, he added.
“The government of Israel is asymmetrically liquidating and destroying the Palestinian people. Israel has invented bureaucratic jargon to camouflage its criminal acts: murder becomes targeted killing; occupation and repression are called the peace process. The Palestinians have offered endless cease fires. But Sharon responds by assassinating the democratic leadership of the Palestinian people. The government of Israel is leading the Middle East to Jihad. The world must stop Sharon immediately”, Greenberg wrote.
Greenberg’s article drew a wave of angered responses from Jews and supporters of Israel in Belgium. Among them were European contributors to Ben-Gurion University who threatened to cut their ties with the institution.
A Ben-Gurion University spokesman responded by saying, “Freedom of expression and thought form the basis of democratic, Western society, and in a pluralistic institution like Ben-Gurion University, the faculty members represent a variety of opinions and views”.
“In academia, researchers must be sensitive to and publicly defend the basic rights of citizens. Nevertheless, the views expressed by Dr. Greenberg are solely his”, added the spokesman.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry refused to accept the university’s response, saying that “freedom of expression also has limits. There is nothing more legitimate than conducting a public debate in Israel. But to slander the State of Israel abroad carries an element of treason. As an Israeli, I am ashamed of him and what he represents”, said a ministry official. Another ministry source called the university’s response “scandalous”, going well beyond the issue of freedom of expression in democratic countries.
Minister of Education Limor Livnat responded by saying that “Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Dr. Greenberg has published words of hate and enmity against the State of Israel, which pays his salary”. She said that in April 2002 she requested that Ben-Gurion President Avishai Braverman address the matter but that her efforts were unsuccessful. “I am not authorized to interfere in academic affairs”, she said, “but I call on the president of the university and the academic community to take issue with and denounce anyone who attacks and opposes the government of Israel”.