Tel Aviv U rector slams campus Democracy Week on judicial reform, says no open-mindedness

“We did not come to hear those who think differently from us,” laments Tel Aviv University Rector Mark Shtaif.

By World Israel News Staff

Amid the current controversy regarding the Israeli government’s plans for judicial reform, which sparked mass demonstrations across the country for the past 10 weeks, Tel Aviv University is hosting “Israel Democracy Week’ to discuss the issues.

The TAU rector, Prof. Mark Shtaif, clashed with his colleagues who oppose the legal reform, Channel 14 reports.

“Democracy Week began with an impressive demonstration, and you won,” Shtaif wrote to his colleagues, saying that only one side of the debate was presented.

“If there was anyone in this audience who was honestly or innocently debating between his support for the reforms and his opposition to it, then he would not have stayed there after the second or third speaker…

“We did not come to listen to those who think differently from us, not even to those who do not know what they think and want to ask questions,” Shtaif continued.

“We came to demonstrate, lecture, preach, condescend and tell everyone how good, enlightened, wise and loyal we are, while everyone who is not with us is a dark person who supports a dictatorship and has no morals.

“Instead of talking about what can be done, we chose to fortify our positions and talk only about what is not possible. We chose to refuse to listen,” he wrote, claiming “with great pain” that any opposing opinion was shut down.

“If I had any hope that something constructive and useful would come out of this Democracy Week at Tel Aviv University, it was eliminated in one fell swoop.”

The student protesters responded angrily to the rector, saying they were “saddened that this is how Professor Mark Steiff chose to express himself…

“We have come to fight for our future. To fight for our rights. His Honor may not feel that his rights will be conditional upon the completion of the coup d’état, but the women, Arabs, LGBTs and minorities who are among the university students certainly feel that way.

“There is definitely room for discourse and discussion, and there is room for debate. But to produce a balanced discourse about an unbalanced coup is ridiculous at best, and false at worst. The protests have been going on for months and the coup engineers have not stopped for even a moment…

“Professor, don’t be on the wrong side of history.”

Shai Rosengarten, head of education at the Zionist Im Tirtzu movement on campuses, said, “Kudos to the rector for demonstrating that behind the veil of communication and freedom of expression is silence and indoctrination. Not only the legal system needs reform; so do the academies.”

Minister of Culture and Sports Miki Zohar (Likud) also concurred with the rector. “There is no limit to hypocrisy,” he said. “Those who have been preaching to us here for many weeks about democracy are shutting down those who dare to think otherwise. Apparently, the fight is not about democracy and freedom, but mainly an attempt to silence those who hold other beliefs.”

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