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 6 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

Reader in Politics and Policy

St Marys University, Twickenham

Engineer

Cern

Professor of Anthropology

Maynooth University

Preceptor in Statistics

Harvard University

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Electrochemistry

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework