Israel Academia Monitor fears the enemy within

May 16, 2013

Debate on academic politics in Israel has been reignited by Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott a presidential conference after lobbying from Palestinian colleagues.

Meanwhile, a campaigning Israeli organisation has claimed that universities in the country - and the state itself - are being undermined from within by academics with pro-Palestinian viewpoints.

Introducing a round-table event on academic freedom in Tel Aviv on 3 May, Dana Barnett, director of the Israel Academia Monitor (IAM), stated that “neo-Marxist critical scholars” had “expanded control of humanities and social sciences departments” in the country.

Ofira Seliktar, professor of political science at Gratz College in Pennsylvania, argued that Israeli academics enjoyed greater freedom than those in the UK, Germany and the US - but at “a heavy price”, with many “using their classroom as a platform for political indoctrination rather than a ‘marketplace of ideas’”.

Michael Gross, a member of the board of governors at Ben Gurion University, said he believed that poor corporate governance had led to a situation “where elements of the university are now…out of control”, with its department of politics “an anti-pluralistic bastion of one-sided anti-Israel far leftist agitprop”.

Meanwhile a master’s student at Ben Gurion, Rachel Avraham, spoke of her objections to a professor on her course who asserted “that Israel is violating international law” and “is the main impediment for peace”.

But commenting on the event, David Katz, professor of early modern European history at Tel Aviv University, said that IAM was part of “the fringe internet media…read by people who want further confirmation of views they already have”.

He said he did not approve of professors speaking as academics on political issues “unless they are experts”, although he added that “as long as they keep it out of the classroom, they are welcome to take part in political life”.

“Few professors violate that trust, but those who do are harmless, even if they express views more extreme than the ones quoted [by Ms Avraham], which are held by many Israelis,” he said.

matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry