Poor return on investment

May 30, 2013

Regarding “Israel Academia Monitor fears the enemy within” (News, 16 May): your article misses an important part of our round-table debate on academic freedom in Israel.

Radical scholars who use their positions to advocate a political agenda short-change students and taxpayers. The former are deprived of a sound liberal arts education that values the fair comparison of ideas, and the latter are forced to pay salaries to faculty engaged in political propaganda. As the round table heard, this state of affairs would not be tolerated in public ­universities in Germany, the UK or the US.

Israel’s expansive definition of academic ­freedom has hurt the comparative standing of its social science, which trends below ­Western averages (in contrast, hard sciences and engineering in the country, free from ­political distortion, score well above average). In a highly competitive global economy, human capital matters: by any measure, Israeli taxpayers receive a poor return on their investment.

The comment made by David Katz, ­professor of early modern history at Tel Aviv University, that IAM is read only by a “fringe” group of people who seek to have their views confirmed is mistaken. Our website receives in excess of 1 million hits a week – hardly a fringe response – and our editorials have been reprinted on numerous occasions. Indeed, many moderate academics have written to us to offer their thanks and encouragement.

Katz’s suggestion that few professors bring their politics into the classroom, and that those who do cause no damage, is emblematic of liberals who try to minimise the misdeeds of their radical colleagues by portraying them as “harmless” or “misguided”. He should be reminded that these “harmless” academics pioneered the movement to boycott Israeli universities and provided much of the ­“scientific” literature proving that Israel is an apartheid state.

Israel Academia Monitor
Even Yehuda, Israel

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