What ‘witch hunt’?

There can be no doubt that the only one to blame for the removal of Gilad Nathan is Nathan himself.

There can be no doubt that the only one to blame for the removal of Gilad Nathan is Nathan himself. The article was published in the Jerusalem Post

Keeping the Knesset Safe; picture from the Knesset website

Susan Hattis Rolef claimed in her Monday column, “Witch-hunt or proper neutrality?,” that the forced “exile” of Dr. Gilad Nathan from his position as a researcher in the Knesset Research and Information Center was justified and not the result of a witch-hunt.

Rolef is somewhat apologetic in basing her support for Nathan’s purported exile on her determination that Eyal Yinon, the legal adviser who asked that Nathan be transitioned from his position, is “certainly not a radical Rightwinger.”

The issue I take with Rolef’s interpretation of the affair is that it leads the reader to believe that this was a borderline case, which could have gone either way. It was close enough to being a “witchhunt” to even raise the question, and only her personal acquaintance with Yinon allows her to draw the conclusion that this was a neutral, professional decision.

This impression is misleading.

Once the facts were published in the website Mida and elsewhere, the Knesset was compelled, almost against its will, to take immediate meaningful action (regardless of any politics or ideologies). The extremity of Nathan’s conduct both as a publicist and as a researcher left no one any real choice.

It is true the Knesset’s first reaction was to defend Dr. Nathan’s research. Interestingly, at first the Knesset also defended his published political articles. This is simply the natural instinct of an institution to defend itself and its workers. But, to the Knesset’s credit, the people in charge also launched an internal examination. Now, a mere few weeks later, the Knesset no longer defends Gilad’s columns and is even starting to back away from his professional work. I will very briefly explain why this shift, which was – as Rolef admits – entirely professional, took place.

First, let us consider Nathan’s political articles. A few examples of the manner in which this Knesset employee wrote about Israel and Israeli politics will help clarify the Knesset’s response.

For Nathan, Israel is composed of:

Cossacks on the hills, the nationalistic militarism of the political center … the blood and land thirst and racist fascism of the Israeli Right. The Right … in its Israeli religious-nationalist version, always loved blood, and they will fight over the [Jewish] farmers’ right to spill the blood of [Arab] thieves, for the thieves sin against our nation, on our national land; spilling their blood only completes the grotesque fulfillment of the ‘Blut und Boden’ [Blood and Soil, a Nazi ideology] worldview.

For Nathan, the settlers are:

Pogromists… ‘victimized’ Cossacks rampaging in the city streets fueled by racism and lust for loot… Judeo-pogromists… circumcised Cossacks.

Nathan also related to specific politicians and parties. For example, he called Ehud Barak “the Israeli version of Napoleon,” and wrote that the Austrian extreme Right-winger and anti-Semitic Jörg Haider would have been too mild for the ‘Israel Beitenu’ and ‘Haichud Haleumi’ parties. There is plenty more, but this should probably suffice.

Clearly, Nathan should find it hard to work with more than 60 percent of the Knesset, without raising the issue of his collaboration with Nazilike people.

Is Nathan’s professional work “immaculate,” as Rolef writes? Here too, there is more than meets the eye.

After Nathan’s work on immigration was criticized by Mida and Ma’ariv, it was reviewed by an independent expert, commissioned by the Knesset. The reviewer found that Nathan wrongly claimed that Israel is not among the leading destination states for illegal immigrants, and that the main piece of data Nathan used in order to substantiate this claim (and that is still echoed in the press and in the Knesset) was “irrelevant.” The reviewer writes that “the criticism leveled at the report, stating that Israel’s position was not accurately presented as being among the leading countries … compared to the West and Europe in particular, is justified.”

Moreover, Dan Landau, the Knesset’s CEO, admitted in Haaretz this Monday that “there were several flaws in his [Nathan’s] research.”

I will not dwell on the second article Mida published concerning Nathan’s work. Briefly, Nathan falsely claimed that crime rates among illegal immigrants are lower than among the general population; suffice it to say that every senior policeman who related to the issue refuted Nathan’s spurious conclusion, specifically with regard to violent crimes.

Lastly, Rolef claims that “what happened to Nathan wouldn’t have happened if he had belonged to the Radical right.” This is true, but not in the sense that she intends. If a radical Right-wing Knesset employee would publicly express the above political views not about the Jews but rather about Arabs, he would not be shifted to a different job within the Knesset, as Nathan was; he would be fired on the spot (and, I might add, with my full support).

The reverse of Rolef’s thesis is closer to the truth: only because Nathan is a Left-wing radical, protected by the Leftwing media and various radical NGO’s (among them the Israeli Communist Party), is he treated so gently. In addition, in the case of radical Rightwinger employee, the Left would not ask anyone to differentiate between the professional and political, but would insist on his removal from any position he might hold.

Therefore, in this case, there can be no doubt that the only one to blame for the removal of Gilad Nathan is Nathan himself.

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