Some students at Bar Ilan University are calling on the institution to cancel classes taught by an outspoken left-wing lecturer, Dr. Uri Weiss, who accused settlers of “collective psychosis.”
He made the statement last Thursday, on the day of the stabbing death of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist from the Hebron area who snuck into her bedroom in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba.
“When a group of parents chooses in the name of a fanatical theology to live in a place that puts their children in great danger, we’re talking about a collective psychosis,” Weiss wrote in a Facebook post.
Earlier in the day, he accused IDF soldiers of committing “war crimes” when they raided the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara protest ship in 2010. The ship, he said, had set sail to the Strip “to break through a combination of a cruel naval and land siege imposed on an entire population.” The purpose of Israel’s blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, he explained, “is collective punishment and a release for [Israeli] rage over the capture of [former IDF corporal] Gilad Shalit.”
He also praised controversial Arab Joint List MK Hanin Zoabi, who was aboard the ship and last week caused a furor in the Knesset when she accused IDF soldiers of committing murder during the raid.
Weiss said that a new reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey, meant to end years of animosity in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident, should include a formal Israeli apology.
“After all, if criminal bloodshed like what we saw on the Marmara ends in a ransom payment” — a reference to the $20 million Israel agreed to pay to the families of 10 Turkish citizens killed in the raid — “this is an enormous compromise on the victims’ part,” he wrote in a post.
Weiss teaches in the university’s business school, but is not a full-time staff member.
In response to his post about Ariel’s killing, students told the Walla news they were demanding that he be fired.
“It’s sad to see that a lecturer at a respectable university acts like the lowliest of inciters against Israel and its citizens,” graduate student Eitan Meir was quoted as saying.
Another graduate student, Hanna Huri, accused Weiss of “dancing on the blood of a murdered girl, and the saddest thing is that it isn’t the first time that people have complained about this lecturer, and apparently nothing was done.”
Matan Peleg, head of the controversial right-wing group Im Tirtzu, said “free expression is of utmost importance, but must not be turned into the freedom to divide, to harm significant parts of Israeli society and its image abroad. These kinds of attacks might belong in the Palestinian or Qatari academia, but certainly not in Israeli academia.”
Weiss responded to the complaints on July 2, writing on Facebook, “Interesting humanists are a boon for boring fascists. Boring fascists can share a screen capture of what interesting humanists have written, add some thoughtless curse, and thus create the sense that they’re part of the debate.”
He welcomed the criticism, he said, “Since making interesting texts accessible is one of the most important functions of criticism.”
Bar Ilan University told Walla that Weiss “is an external lecturer who expresses his [political] opinions in private forums, and not in class. The university disagrees with the content and wording” of Weiss’s posts, “but does not see a reason to intervene, since they were said in a private forum.”