Thanks to Prof. Hanoch Sheinman

Hi all,

in this article the author clearly shows how people showing empathy towards Gaza victims get punished by Israeli official society. 

ProMosaik e.V. would like to express its solidarity with this brave Professor… Thank you for standing up and showing EMPATHY which is a fundamental ethical attitude in Judaism.


Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi

Editorial  Team of ProMosaik e.V.


Israel Professor Gets in Big Trouble for Showing Concern for Gaza War Victims

Innocuous Email Sparks Shocking Firestorm at Bar-Ilan

The Professor: Hanoch Sheinman and his daughter.

Courtesy of Hanoch Sheinman
The Professor: Hanoch Sheinman and his daughter.

By Steven J. Zipperstein

Published August 08, 2014, issue of August 08, 2014.

Hanoch Sheinman, the philosophy professor at Bar-Ilan
University’s law school caught in the midst of a fierce controversy
involving an email sent to his second-year law students, expressing
sympathy for all victims of Israel’s Gaza conflict, phoned me in
frustration because he couldn’t manage to shut the roof of his rented
convertible. I had emailed him the previous day, as an expression of
support, and since he happened to be in the San Francisco Bay Area, we
decided that he would come over to talk about his problems.
It ought to have taken no more than 50 minutes or so
to travel to our house in Berkeley from Palo Alto, but three and a half
hours later, Sheinman, a bushy-haired, ruffled man in his mid-40s,
arrived, his 15-year-old daughter at his side (she was participating in a
Stanford debate camp). He was complaining ruefully about the
complexities of convertible roofs, the chilling Bay Area summer fog and
his mechanical ineptitude.
Sheinman is a slightly built, gently self-abnegating
man, a specialist in the intersection of ethics and law in his second
year of teaching at Bar-Ilan; he previously taught at Rice. Speaking
with him and his daughter, I was left with the unsettling impression of a
deer caught in the glare of headlights. The dilemma in which he now
finds himself, one that could well cost him dearly, was born of no more
than Sheinman’s basic decency, his acknowledgement — anodyne in other
times, potentially lethal in ours — that the suffering of all hurt by
the Gaza conflict was worthy of mention.
Three or four days earlier he had sent an email to
his students, many of whom were now in uniform. The email contained
instructions about the rescheduling of exams. He opened the email with
the wish that it “finds you in a safe place, and that you, your families
and those dear to you are not among the hundreds of people that were
killed, the thousands wounded and whose homes were destroyed or were
forced to leave their homes during or as a direct result of the violent
confrontation in the Gaza Strip and its environs.”
Almost immediately, his dean, Shachar Lifshits,
responded with a collective email in the name of the law school faculty,
insisting that Sheinman’s note was “hurtful,” especially to those
students involved in battle and to their family members. He added: “Both
the content and the style of the letter contravene the values of the
university and the law faculty…. This constitutes the inappropriate use
of the power given to a lecturer to exploit the platform given to him as
a law teacher… that… seriously offended the students and their
There is no reason to doubt that Lifshits is telling
the truth when he says that Sheinman’s email offended. And that’s the
problem. That he then goes on to say that the sentiments expressed in it
conflict with the values of his university, an institution inspired by
religious convictions, chills one’s bones. And this from an institution,
indeed a law school, that ought to be keenly attuned to what an
inability to empathize with basic humanity can result in: Yitzhak
Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, was a law student in November 1995 at the
time he murdered the prime minister.
Never before in an Israeli military conflict has the
mere expression of empathy for Arab civilian dead and wounded been seen,
beyond the political fringe, as akin to betrayal. There is more and
more evidence that this is the situation we face now with the Sheinman
episode — a strikingly benign affair that is all the more illustrative
because of that: It is one of those rare moments in life of stark, utter
clarity, an uncluttered story of decency thwarted by indecency.
Sheinman’s comments were not political; they were humane. If anything.
he suffers from a more than mild dose of healthy naiveté, not malice.
Many are now suffering, including not only his own students but also
thousands of others, and it was this, only this, that Sheinman meant to
Sheinman’s dean has asked him to apologize. But it’s
Lifshits who ought to offer an apology, and not only to Sheinman. Wars
are revoltingly indecent moments, even when they’re tragically
necessary, and in their midst, when someone reminds us of the basic
humanity of those caught up in them, and especially when this is someone
hired by his law school to help its students wrestle with ethical
issues, it’s best to thank him, not punish him.
Steven J. Zipperstein, Daniel E. Koshland
Professor of Jewish Culture and History at Stanford University, is the
author of “Elusive Prophet: Ahad Ha’am and the Origins of Zionism”
(University of California Press, 1993).

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