Studies in Racism

Sara Leibovitz-Dar | Maariv | 21 October 2009

“When Israel sends a sophisticated satellite into space, the Arabs come up with a new kind of hummus,” Dr. Dan Schueftan told students during his course on Israel”s security perspective in the diplomacy and security program for senior managers at Tel Aviv University.

An essay that was published in last Friday”s weekend supplement reveals that during his lectures, Dr. Schueftan made additional remarks such as “The Arabs are the biggest failure in the history of the human race. There”s nothing under the sun that”s more screwed up than the Palestinians”; “The Iran-Iraq war was, in Hanna Szenes”s words, “My God, my God, I pray that it never end. Seven years of pure pleasure”; “Throughout the Arab world, people fire guns at weddings in order to prove that they have at least one thing that”s hard and in working order that can shoot.”

Schueftan has a great deal of influence over high-ranking members of the security establishment and the upper political echelon. Several high-ranking officials of the Mossad and of the army took his course at Tel Aviv University as well. Some of them did not like Schueftan”s remarks. “Even if we enjoyed the course itself, we didn”t like the style,” one student said. Another student even left the course after several meetings. “It”s not respectable and even vulgar to make remarks like that during a lesson,” she said. “I chose not to confront him. That”s not why I went to university. I chose to leave.”

A high-ranking lecturer at the University of Haifa who specializes in a field close to Schueftan”s said that Schueftan has been known to make such statements at the university for a long time. “Quite a few times, it”s happened that students who come to my lectures have told me that Dr. Schueftan remarked on subjects such as the Israeli Arabs and the Palestinians,” he recalled. “I try to explain to them that the conflict has another side, too. I wouldn”t be the friend of such a person, even if he isn”t evil, but I say this as a Jew. If I were an Arab, I would certainly feel differently.”

Dr. Schueftan says that some of the comments collected by students in the course, such as “The Palestinians are a loathsome part of the Middle East, let”s not discuss those louses,” were made jokingly. “The source of the statements that are being attributed to me in the report is a humor list that was put together for the class party. The same part of the statements, which look like they were said in class or in small talk during the break, were taken out of context. Showing such caricatures is legitimate on a humor list, but twisted and misleading when it is presented as a teacher”s message to his class. It”s claimed that this message reflects profound contempt of the understanding of students who are mature adults, on the assumption that the student ignores many hours of methodical, balanced and documented discussion and forms his opinion based on a trifling remark on its fringes. My students understand that this is a joke. When I lecture, I don”t deal with the question of who will like this or that remark. I rely on the intelligence of the students, who can tell the difference between an in-depth discussion and a good joke. The assumption that a student could be so awful as to be influenced by a joke is an insult to the student.”

Q. Could it be that you”re the one who”s showing contempt for the students when you speak that way during class?

“The students look around. They don”t need me. No group of nations has failed so blatantly to reach the goals that they themselves set like the Arabs. In every big thing that they”ve tried to do, they haven”t succeeded. The Arab world is a profound failure, and anyone who doesn”t say so is a person who has surrendered to despicable political correctness.”

MK Ahmed Tibi protested the remarks. “The gang of Arab affairs experts in Israel looks at Arabs the way a zoologist looks at an animal through the bars of a cage,” he said. “They are motivated primarily by hatred and contempt for the Arabs. As racism is becoming despised throughout the world, it is thriving in Israel. After all, if scientists throughout the world were to speak that way about Jews, there would be a tremendous uproar. I suggest to Dan Schueftan: it”s still not too late for you to just leave the field. If there”s anything that you don”t understand, it”s Arabs. Besides, as a proud Arab, I feel profound contempt for this man and his doctrine.”

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