Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tel Aviv University's Complicity With Israeli War Machine

One reason U.S. anti-war activists should consider supporting an academic boycott of Israeli universities is that universities like Tel Aviv University are “playing a major role in enhancing Israel’s security capabilities and military edge,” according to the winter 2008/2009 issue of the Tel Aviv University Review journal. As Gil Zohar revealed in his “Lifting The Veil of Secrecy” article that appeared in this same issue of Tel Aviv University Review:

“In the rough and tumble reality of the Middle East, Tel Aviv University [TAU] is at the front line of the critical work to maintain Israel’s military and technological edge.

“While much of that research remains classified, several facts illuminate the role of the university. MAFAT, a Hebrew acronym meaning the R&D Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense is currently funding 55 projects at TAU…

“Nine other projects are being funded by DARPA—the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Seven…Israel National Security Prizes have been awarded in recent years to members of TAU’s Blauntnik School of Computer Science—more than any other institution in the country. For security reasons, the recipients cannot be named.”

The results of some of the secret war research projects on Tel Aviv University’s campus have apparently been reflected in the weapons systems that are being brutally used against Palestinian civilians in Gaza by the Israeli War Machine, in violation of the Nuremberg Trial Accords, the United Nations Charter and international law. But the Tel Aviv University professors involved in these campus war research projects have tried to hide what they’re up to from any curious anti-war students or anti-war faculty members at Tel Aviv University. As the “Lifting The Veil of Secrecy” article also observed:

“Not surprisingly, much of the defense-related research at TAU remains hush-hush, conducted in rooms and laboratories protected by barred windows, multiple locks and office safes. `There are people in this university dealing with very secret projects, and they won’t talk about it,’ matter-of-factly notes Dr. Michael Gozin, an expert in organic chemistry and explosives detection, who himself chooses words carefully to describe his work.”

Bu according to the “Lifting The Veil of Secrecy” article, Tel Aviv University Professor Ady Arie, who heads TAU’s Institute for Electronic Devices, is working with Tel Aviv University Professor Aladar Fleischman in “designing systems to protect aircraft from missiles” in partnership “with El op, part of Elbit, which makes electrical optic defense systems.”

The head of the Applied Physics Group at TAU’s School of Physics and Astronomy, Tel Aviv University Professor Abraham Katz, is “working on a laser-based counter-measure system against shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (SAMs)…”

Tel Aviv University Professor Ron Bachrach of TAU’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences is doing research on “seismic waves and remote sensing technologies” that “may finally stop the flourishing underground trade between Gaza and Egypt.”

A “three-year project initiated by the IDF Intelligence Corps on how to enhance and stabilize video images shot from a long-distance” of about seven miles or more was also recently completed by Tel Aviv University Professor of Engineering Leonid Yaroslavsky.

The head of TAU’s School of Electrical Engineering, Tel Aviv University Professor Anthony Weiss, told the “Lifting The Veil of Secrecy” article writer that “I’m not free to talk about things funded by the Ministry of Defense, naturally;” while “characteristically, MAFAT denied” Tel Aviv University Professor Michael Gozin “permission to speak in all but generalities about his research into the detection of `green explosives’—next generation munitions based on multiple nitrogen atoms in the molecules,” according to the same writer. The director of TAU’s Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis and Forecasting [ICTAF], Tel Aviv University Professor Yair Sharan, also “is not free to discuss his current work with Israeli defense agencies including MAFAT, the counter-terrorism unit in the Prime Minister’s Office [MALAL], the Ministry of Defense and the police,” according to the “Lifting The Veil of Secrecy” article.

Ironically, although these Tel Aviv University professors may be shy about fully disclosing the nature of their secret war research work to anti-war students at Tel Aviv University, at least one professor, Tel Aviv University Professor Oded Maimon, has not been shy about apparently violating the privacy rights of people around the globe who correspond with each other by e-mail. As Gil Zohar revealed in his “Lifting The Veil of Secrecy” article, “with implications for intelligence gathering, Professor Oded Maimon…mines cyberspace in a project funded by the European Union, Israel’s Ministry of Science and General Motors;” and “using sophisticated algorithms,” Tel Aviv University Professor “Maimon reads millions of e-mails and identifies those that are suspicious or important.”

Yet, according to Tel Aviv University President Zvi Galil, “people are” still “just not aware of how important university research is in general, and how much TAU contributes to Israel’s security in particular.”

Coincidentally, Tel Aviv University President Galil is a former Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean. After moving from his Columbia University campus office in Manhattan to his Tel Aviv University president’s office in June 2007, former Columbia University Dean Galil stated:

“I look forward to continuing a dynamic, positive relationship with the American Friends of Tel Aviv University and collaborating with our friends in the United States…TAU and Columbia are separated by an ocean, but that has less meaning than at any prior time in human history.”

A former senior regional director for the militaristic Israeli government’s AIPAC lobbying firm named Sam Witkin was the president of the tax-exempt American Friends of Tel Aviv University until a few years ago; and before Witkin was replaced in 2007 by a former executive at the Zionist movement’s United Jewish Appeal office in New York City named Roni Krinsky, former American Friends of Tel Aviv University President Witkin was paid an annual salary of $248,972.

According to its Form 990 financial disclosure form for 2006, between October 1, 2006 and September 30, 2007 the “non-profit” American Friends of Tel Aviv University group’s total revenues exceeded $22 million, while its total expenditures were only $16 million. In addition, during this same period the “non-profit” American Friends of Tel Aviv University earned over $1.3 million in dividends from the over $21.3 million in corporate stock that it owned; while the amount of State of Israel bonds that the American Friends of Tel Aviv University also owned exceeded $1.2 million.

Perhaps the surplus capital still controlled by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University should be used now to pay some reparations to the Palestinian civilians that the Tel Aviv University-supported Israeli War Machine has been brutally attacking in Gaza during the last three weeks, in violation of the Nuremberg Trial Accords?