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Israel Academia Monitor

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Anti-Israel Activities of Israeli Academics

 

 

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IAM supports the universal tradition of academic freedom that is an indispensable characteristic of higher education in Israel. At the same time, it is concerned by the activities of a small group of academics--sometimes described as revisionist historians or post-Zionists, among other labels--who go beyond the “free search for truth and its free exposition” (to quote the American Association of University Professors) that is the hallmark of academic freedom. Exploiting the prestige (and security) of their positions, such individuals often propound unsubstantiated and, frequently, demonstrably false arguments that defame Israel and call into question its right to existence.

 

 
 
We are happy to announce the publication of the study Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective; it compares academic freedom in Israel with that enjoyed by faculty in three academic leaders- Germany, Great Britain and the United States. This first of a kind research, is systematic, detailed and meticulously referenced.
The study indicates that, contrary to the view of radical scholars and their liberal supporters, the Israeli academy has enjoyed far greater freedom than its counterparts in the comparative cases. Indeed, in all three countries a combination of case law, ethic codes and strong oversight by boards of directors and politicians who appointed them have prevented radical faculty in public universities from abusing and subverting academic privileges to push an activist political agenda.
Not countervailed by academic duties and a need to account to the public and its elected representatives, the expansive sense of academic freedom has hurt Israel’s academic standing in the world. Liberal arts and social science, in particular, have been trending well below global averages, jeopardizing Israel’s overall competitive quest.
We hope that the study will spur a long-overdue debate on how to restore much- needed balance between academic freedom and the broader interests of the society and the state.
 

First IAM Round table in Tel Aviv and videos from the IAM roundtable, May 3, 2013 

The 2nd IAM event "BDS Campaign Against Israel" 2014 and Audio


A unique opportunity to purchase the IAM book on Academic Freedom

     
           
                

Click to view whole articles:
General Articles
 
22.03.17
Appointing the 13th Council for Higher Education
 
On March 14, 2017, after a long haul, the 13th Council for Higher Education was appointed. The new CHE is comprised of 25 members: Naftali Bennett, Minister of Education, Chairman, CHE; Mr. Israel Tik; Prof. Saad Tapuchi; Ms. Adi Mishnayot; Prof. Haviva Fadia; Prof. Dudi Schwartz; Prof. Rivka Gilat; Prof. Hanna Dodiuk Kenig; Moshe Vigdor; Prof. Ousside Khatib; Dr. Samar Hajj Yihye; Dr. Rivka Wadmany Shauman; Dr. Leah Boehm; Prof. Illana Gozes; Prof. Israel Gilad; Dr. Ofir Haivry; Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats; Prof. Aviva Halamish; Prof. Haim Taitelbaum; Prof. Eli Pollak; Prof. Ronnie Friedman; Prof. Ido Perlman; Prof. Aharon Kellerman; Prof. Shifra Sagie; Mr. Ram Shefa. 
To recall, six members of the 12th CHE resigned in protest when Minister Bennett dismissed the vice-chair, a highly respected Professor Haggit Messer-Yaronand appointed Dr. Rivka Wadmany-Shauman, a junior academic. Possible explanation is that Bennett might have been less than happy with the Messer-Yaron committee report, because it urged to reduce the control of the CHE over universities: "To ensure the autonomy of the higher education system, essential for the flourishing of research and teaching to reinforce academic freedom." 
The dismissal created a firestorm among academics and a group of activists-academics postulated that Bennett's move was purely political. The group petitioned the High Court to force Bennett to produce a statement explaining his rational behind electing new members; The activists also wanted to stop decision-making by the CHE, until it had the number of members as required by law. The court hearing scheduled for 27th of February was rescheduled to an unknown date. It is not clear what would be the fate of this petition since a new CHE is now in place. 
One of the missions that the CHE took upon itself is concerning the Law-Schools Clinics. On 28th of June 2016, the CHE adopted the recommendations of an international committee to oversee transparency over the choices of legal cases taken by the clinics; and to limit the funds coming from outside sources. A recent legal case lead by the Tel Aviv University Law Clinic might be affected, the clinic petitioned against a proposed law intending to deduct 20 percent of salaries of asylum seekers and create a special fund to hold the sums until the refugees departure from Israel. Critics have questioned whether the Tel Aviv University clinic should handle such a project. 
The CHE is also deliberating on a code of ethics for the academia by the Kasher committee and the inclusion of Haredim in the institutions of higher education. 
These are important subjects and IAM would update its readers.
Anti-Israel Conferences
 
16.03.17
The Nexus of Scholarship and anti-Israel Activism: The Case of Sussex University UK
 
Last month IAM reported on a petition calling to boycott conferences in the U.S in response to President Trump ban. Among the hundreds of scholars who signed the petition some 150 are from Sussex University in Brighton, UK. One signatory, Jan Selby, professor of International Relations, had organized a workshop which hit the British news. The workshop questioned how to “deal with right-wing attitudes in the classroom”. The University has been accused of undermining free speech, students and staff complained that the institution was revealing its political bias. 
Not surprising, Selby is a disciple of Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist imprisoned by Mussolini who urged the intellectual elites, notably the academics, to launch a "quiet revolution' by reconfiguring societal values to reflect progressive ideas. Gramsci stipulated that academics need to combine scholarship and political activism in one seamless act. Gramsci's disciples took up this mandate by evolving neo-Marxist, critical scholarship, a paradigm which dominates much of contemporary social science. 
Clearly, Selby fits the profile of a neo-Marxist, critical scholar well. In his article "Post-Zionist Perspectives on Contemporary Israel," Selby applied the Gramscian logic to Israel. He stated that in "Gramscian terms," the Labor Settlers Movement was a highly successful 'hegemonic project'." He then went on to note that "there is no necessary reason why the power of the Israeli military could not be acknowledged and analysed within a Gramscian framework." Using his Gramscian toolbox, he concluded "the previously disgraced Ariel Sharon has been rehabilitated as trustworthy guardian of the Israeli national interest" and a new "privatisation programme" implements "repression in the West Bank and Gaza." 
Selby also laments the fact that "in the academy, the best-known of the New Historians, Benny Morris, seems to have become an advocate of ethnic cleansing and has given credence to Ehud Barak's frankly racist view that the Palestinians, being not of Judeo-Christian culture, do not understand the concept of truth. More critical voices, like that of Ilan Pappe, have found themselves ostracised within their universities and even threatened with dismissal. The study of Israeli society may have become more heterogeneous and contested, but a postcolonial liberal Israel seems almost as far away as ever." 
In another article, "The myth of liberal peace-building," Selby blamed Israel for the failure of the Oslo peace process. In Selby's reading of the historic effort to conclude the bloody conflict, it was the "Israeli economic liberalization," which tripped up negotiations and ironically, led Israel to "outsource the occupation" to the Palestinians who are in charge of the most populated parts of he West Bank. 
To bring this type of scholarship into the public arena, Selby is now organizing a conference "The Occupation at 50: Pasts, Presents, Futures" at Sussex University in May. The invitation reads, "2017 marks 50 years for the longest standing military occupation in the world. During that time, the political, demographic, legal, economic and social dimensions of the occupation have changed dramatically, in Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, in the region, and beyond. The two-state solution has moved from being perceived as a threat to Israel’s existence, to the only possible solution, and now to one that is slowly fading into the realms of an unrealistic prospect. The West Bank and Gaza, once viewed as two parts of one political identity, have taken different trajectories. The international arena has moved from bewilderment, to active engagement, to frustration and perhaps, to apathy. Resistance has taken the form of violent uprising, civic protests and international collaboration. The legal system has been portrayed by some as the final frontier for the protection of Palestinian rights, but is seen by others as one of the main facilitators of the occupation. The terms of economic engagement have changed dramatically, from the incorporation of Palestinian labour and markets into the Israeli economy, to selective disengagement during times of upheaval, to complete removal of non-citizen Palestinians from the Israeli labour market, and to calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions." 
This conference features "leading UK and international experts on the occupation", including Israeli neo-Marxist, critical and post-Zionist scholars such as Orna Ben-Naftali, Neve Gordon, Aeyal Gross, Hagar Kotef, Yoni Mendel, Amir Paz-Fuchs, Yoav Peled, Horit Herman Peled, Yael Ronen,and Haim Yacobi. 
Unsurprisingly, no alternative perspective will be represented on the panels. 
Selby has signed a petition in a paid ad in The Guardian which reads "we will not: • accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions; • act as referees in any of their processes; • participate in conferences funded, organised or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them. We will, however, continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities. We will maintain this position until the State of Israel complies with international law, and respects universal principles of human rights." He also lectured in a protest of students in support of Gaza, organized by Sussex Occupation. 
Selby is not the only Gramscian at Sussex University, another conference will be taking place devoted to "Echoes of Fascism in Contemporary Culture, Politics and Society." The invitation starts with a quote "Every age has its own fascism" by Primo Levi, the famous author and Holocaust survivor. The conference organizers go on to state: "Within the past year, we have witnessed a number of alarming social and political developments in the UK but also globally." One could have imagined some fascists movements, but no, "The success of the Brexit campaign in the UK, the election of Donald Trump in the USA and his recent imposition of a travel ban". All these have been "dependent on racially charged ideologies, and accompanied by a notable rise in racist, misogynist, and homophobic attacks in the UK and in other Western countries, as the Far Right mobilises and becomes more legitimated." 
Neither Selby nor the "Echoes of Fascism" conference mention the role of Islamist radicalism in creating many of the problems they purport to address. Selby should know that the Oslo process was torpedoed when Hamas and Islamic Jihad, acting on order from Iran, launched a wave of suicide attacks in Israel. The resulting carnage undermined the faith in the Labour government. When Ehud Barak regained power in 1999, he found that Yasser Arafat was too intimidated by the jihadists to go through with the generous deal offered by Israel in Camp David II. Selby is wrong; it was not "economic liberalization," the neo-Marxist boogeyman that sank Oslo, it was Jihad. 
But of course, the neo-Marxist, critical paradigm does not have a category for religious extremism of the kind that ISIS has exhibited. As a result, the second conference cannot mention that much of what is going on in Europe is a reaction to the masses of immigrants that have arrived. Tramped in antiquated and obsolete analysis of reality, the "Echoes of Fascism" conference cannot even acknowledge that the murder of innocents in the street in Europe by jihadists, either homegrown followers of ISIS, or terrorists who arrived as refugees, have been a contributing factor to the popular unease.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
09.03.17
Women’s Day, Feminisms, Womanism and LGBT in the Service of Israeli Apartheid Week Montreal, March 6-15, 2017
 
In April 2016 IAM reported on Canada as a Battleground of BDS. In particular IAM noted that 45 members of staff in McGill University have signed a declaration endorsing BDS. McGill is certainly a battlefield for pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activism. For example, CKUT, a non-profit, campus-community radio station based at McGill University, has posted a notice of activities of Israeli Apartheid Week in Montreal. 
IAM notes that the promotion for Israeli Apartheid Week Montreal 2017 was already announced in March 2016. There is a long list of local groups endorsing it. 
The organizers of the Montreal even have focuses on women issues and includes "International Women’s Day Demonstration" and "Indigenous Feminisms & Womanism". They recruited Nahla Abdo', an Arab feminist scholar and activist, to discuss "the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land, their right of return and the obstacles that face them as well as the resistance that has been mobilized in Palestine and Internationally to stop the Israeli Government’s Illegal Settlements and to help Palestinians acquire their right of RETURN." 
Another featured activist is Simona Sharoni. To recall, in August 2016 IAM reported that "Simona Sharoni, Former Israeli Scholar Promotes False Allegations Against Israel." In her presentation, sponsored by BDS-Concordia, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-Concordia and others, "Compassionate Resistance and Solidarity: Envisioning Post-Apartheid Palestine" she will examine "the ethics and politics of solidarity initiatives designed to end the Israeli occupation. Special attention will be devoted to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, its successes and challenges." Sharoni is said to be "Informed by an intersectional feminist analysis and her lifelong involvement in pursuing social justice," and will be also discussing "ongoing projects designed to ensure that post-apartheid Palestine is an exemplary democratic society with justice and equality for all." 
The organizers have also focused on the LGBT rights. "From the images of ISIS throwing gay men off towers in Syria to the media rhetoric following the Orlando nightclub shootings in 2016, over the last several years LGBT Arabs have found themselves at the crossfires of global ‘clash of civilizations’ discourses." Saleem Haddad, a queer Arab activist, who "will examine the challenges facing queer Arabs in reclaiming their own narratives," and will also "examine the impact of Israeli government pinkwashing" and will "survey the growing xenophobic discourse about the ‘homophobia’ and ‘misogyny’ of Muslim and refugee communities in Europe and North America." He will discuss what "the global rise of the far-right means for LGBT politics, and how LGBT Arabs have begun to fight back." 
The Montreal event is fairly representative of the coalition which the Palestinians have put together to promote BDS. Unsurprisingly, members of this coalition are highly reluctant to discuss the fate of women, gay and transgender in Muslim countries. In a 1993 article on feminism in the Middle East, Nahla Abdo' questioned Simona Sharoni on the striking absence from her writing of the impact of Muslim fundamentalisms. In response Sharoni "expressed her deep concern about the impact of this phenomenon on women, acknowledging the rise of Muslim and Jewish fundamentalism in the region." Somewhat remarkable, Abdo' added that Sharoni "also relayed to me her sincere reluctance to engage in a discussion on Muslim fundamentalism due to her simultaneous identity as an Israeli Jewish feminist." 
The reluctance of scholars to debate the fate of women and LBGT is a testimony to their intellectual bankruptcy. It does not serve their case and hurts the case of the Palestinians.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
01.03.17
The Battle over BDS in the UK
 
In November 2016 IAM reported of a debate that took place in the Scotland University College Union. In early 2016, the UCU Scotland passed a motion calling to host a seminar on possible boycott of Israeli universities. Consequently, the UCU received legal advice that it would be unlawful for the union to support a boycott. The seminar went ahead with two papers presented; Professor Emeritus Jonathan Rosenhead came out in support of a boycott and Dr Alastair Hunter opposed it. The UCU published these proceedings which can be seen below. 
The Scottish case is symptomatic of the legal battle in the UK. The UK's Secretary of State for Communities has recently unveiled new moves to stop local councils from boycotting Israel. The local councils will now be legally forbidden from boycotting companies and countries unless restrictions have already been put in place by the central government. The UK government’s statement on this decision specifically highlighted Israel as an example of particular note and made it clear that councils will not be able to “discriminate on geographical or other grounds”. Starting in October 2015, the British government introduced regulations making it difficult for councils to use their pension funds to pursue ethical divestment policies, by giving the government the power to veto them. In February 2016 the Cabinet Office issued guidelines intending to discourage procurement boycotts by the exclusion of certain companies from bidding for public contracts. 
The UK government's move is seen by some as potentially stepping up the war on the BDS movement. The London based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, an Arabic news website, noted as much in an article calling the new move "unethical". The article was written by a researcher whose PhD studies focuses on the influence of the Israel lobby in the United Kingdom. The author argued that the new UK government regulations followed "years of grassroots local government activism by Palestinian solidarity activists." 
As already noted, Palestinian solidarity activists muzzle speeches by Israeli speakers. In addition, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK has skyrocketed. 
The dire situation on the campuses has prompted governmental action. Last week, Jo Johnson, the universities minister has written to the chief executives of higher education institutions, reminding them of their responsibility to ensure students do not suffer “discrimination, harassment or victimisation”. He added that, “This will include events such as those that might take place under the banner of ‘Israel Apartheid’ events for instance. Such events need to be properly handled by higher education institutions to ensure that our values, expectations and laws are not violated.” 
IAM welcomes the decision of the British government to curb anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activities on the British campuses and would continue to report.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
23.02.17
'Israeli Apartheid Week' on Our Doorstep
 
The annual 'Israeli Apartheid Week' (IAW) said to be "an annual international series of self-organized events (rallies, protests, lectures, cultural performances, concerts, films and workshops) held in over 250 cities, communities and campuses across the globe," is up and running again. 
To create a buzz, the official Facebook page announced a "Call Out," first on 14 December 2016 then again on 2 February 2017, intending to "mark 100 years of Palestinian resistance against settler colonialism, since the inception of the Balfour Declaration." It would take place all around the world between March - April 2017. 
In the United States, the name was changed to Palestine Awareness Week. As in previous years, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a key player. SJP announced it had more than 80 chapters at American universities as of 2010. While they promise the event to be the biggest ever, in reality, so far, the activism has been somewhat subdued. 
In Britain, a number of campuses including Goldsmiths College, Kings College London and University of Manchester are said to hold events between 27th of February to 3rd of March. Israeli advocates have pushed against these events. Michael McCann, director of Israel-Britain Alliance, was quoted as warning university heads not to use campus facilities to host “false and inflammatory propaganda;” he added that students supporting Israel Apartheid Week on-campus should be regarded as anti-Semites, as per the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism which was adopted by Prime Minister Theresa May. 
In South Africa, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation is sponsoring IAW. Proponents claim that IAW is endorsed by more than 85 organizations, trade unions, embassies, youth movements and other groups including South Africa’s governing party, the country’s largest student group and SA’s largest trade union federation. Eager to link the alleged Israeli apartheid to that of South Africa, the organizers proclaim that the "IAW raises awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies towards the indigenous Palestinians. Israel’s discriminatory policies are now also affecting Africans."
However, at home, some Israeli academics have been describing Israel as an apartheid state. Following Oren Yiftachel, the architect since 2002 of the comparison between Israel and South Africa's apartheid, Menachem Klein, professor of political science at Bar Ilan University has followed suit in 2003. And again in a recent article "Israel is Moving Rapidly Towards Apartheid State," Klein was quoted to this effect, asserting that under a one state scenario "Israeli is now moving very rapidly towards an apartheid state." 
IAM would follow the Israeli Apartheid Week activities and continue to report.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
16.02.17
From the BDS of Israel to Academic Boycott Against the US
 
The old saying that the Jews are the canaries in the coal mine comes to mind when looking at the academic reaction to President Trump’s executive order banning entry to citizens of seven, predominantly Muslim countries, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. 
As well known, the American courts, which questioned the legality of the document, refused to uphold the ban.
But this did not satisfy the academics who almost unanimously opposed the ban. For example, L. Rafael Reif, the president of MIT urged the faculty and students to join a protest in Boston to make their rejection of these policies heard. "Yet I would like us to think seriously about the fact that both within the MIT community and the nation at large, there are people of goodwill who see the measures in the Executive Order as a reasonable path to make the country safer. We would all like our nation to be safe. I am convinced that the Executive Order will make us less safe. Yet all of us, across the spectrum of opinion, are Americans. In this heated moment, I urge every one of us to avoid with all our might the forces that are driving America into two camps. If we love America, and if we believe in America, we cannot allow those divisions to grow worse. We need to imagine a shared future together, if we hope to have one. I am certain our community can help work on this great problem, too, by starting right here at home." 
Some are very curious to see the impact on conferences. For example, Justin Weinberg, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina conducted two polls to figure out how the travel ban could affect the two meetings of the American Philosophical Association that fall on the 90 days ban (until April 27th, 2017). 
Some of the philosophical responses to his question are worth noting: 
• "Isn’t the point of a boycott to hurt those responsible for some kind of injustice, thereby causing them to reconsider their unjust ways? If so, I fail to see 1) how this boycott will hurt the Trump administration and 2) how this will lead to any kind of change. Furthermore, it seems that now, more than every, philosophers and academics need to come together, and conferences are a wonderful way to do this. Why stifle one way of banding together just when we need most to band together?" 
• "While that’s the usual understanding of boycotts, I think the purpose here is better understood as showing solidarity. As in, “we the boycotters are distinguished from those barred from attending conferences in the US only because we come from ‘safe’ countries; we refuse to employ that unjust privilege to our advantage.”" 
• "I’m pretty strongly against this boycott because (a) it piles further harm on those who are already being harmed by Trump, which in my view includes all of US academia (b) it most seriously harms those who are amongst the hardest hit by the ban, those who are unable to leave the US; (c) from what I have seen academics are already protesting with all their hearts and don’t need me to point out that this is unacceptable; (d) I think Trump would love anything that weakens academia." 
• "I must not be the only one that thinks this boycott movement is bizarre. Boycotting a *conference* makes no difference to the Trump administration, in fact, with them already putting gag orders and conducting “PR” reviews on scientific output from federal agencies… this movement will be much celebrated!" 
• "If the US government has decided that hundreds of people with legal right to enter are not good for the US, I don’t want to be good either. This is a legitimate and reasonable way of protesting against an act of barbaric discrimination." 
• "Boycotting as a collective “obligation to signal” is on incredibly shaky grounds in the absence of meaningful agreement amongst actors on its semiotic and normative value." 
An Australian media reported "The peak bodies representing universities in America and Canada have also issued statements condemning the ban. The Association of American Universities has called for its reversal, saying that the ban threatens to cause “irreparable damage” to the academic reputation of the US. Over 20,000 US faculty members and 51 Nobel Laureates have signed a petition voicing concern and urging Trump to reconsider the executive order on immigration." 
Others were more dramatic, stating that the "Trump order threatens global research". Australian professor, Ian Jacobs, Vice Chancellor of the University of New South Wales said, “How can it be that the US, which has countless Nobel Prize winners and top universities of the calibre of Harvard, Stanford and Yale, might suddenly bar the world’s best and the brightest from entry - or worse, re-entry - into its classrooms and laboratories? ...The world badly needs collaborative university research between nations... The best universities have always opened their doors to talent from anywhere in the world, and the US has been a massive beneficiary of that spirit, which encompasses not only academic ability with entrepreneurial drive, but also a strong belief that higher education and research are bulwarks against ignorance, intolerance and inequality.” 
Considering that none of the seven countries are exactly known for being an academic powerhouse, it is hard to see how a temporary ban can inflict such a severe damage as Professor Jacobs suggested. 
But this is not the real point here. If the academic damage was an issue, then surely more scholars would have spoken out against the anti- Israel BDS advocacy which has swept the campuses. 
The real point is the hypocrisy of the academics who are only too happy to consider a boycott on “politically appropriate” targets, first Israel and now the United States, as the following petition to boycott American conferences makes clear. Some 5000 scholars from around the globe have already signed a call to a call to boycott American universities conferences. Not surprising, a number of Israeli academics signed it as well, Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University; Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University; Kobi Snitz, Weizmann Institute of Science; and those who live abroad, Haim Bresheeth, SOAS, London; Uri Horesh, University of Essex; Ronit Lentin (retired) Trinity College Dublin; Dr. Tamir Libel, Barcelona Institute of International Studies, Spain; 
Academics who aspire to a higher moral ground need to know that hypocrisy and double standard erode their legitimacy. The Jewish canary in the coal mine is not just a warning about grim developments on the horizon; it is also a reminder that the road from here to there is paved with elevating hypocrisy to a defining principle.
General Articles
 
08.02.17
The Academic-Activist Community Misguided Mission
 
The Academic-activist community launched an unprecedented attack on the Education Ministry's decision to appoint a panel to draw an academic ethics code. Two other developments upset the activists as well. The Knesset plans to vote on a 
law banning BDS activists from entering Israel and wants to amend the Boycott Law to include a penalty to Israeli universities whose faculty call for BDS. 
The academic-activists vented their frustration on the Academia Network; some threatened to start a wide university strike, to sign boycott calls, and announced they deride the Kasher-Bennett ethics code. 
Dr. Yaacov Bergman from the Hebrew University tried to influence the debate by recommending the book Save the World on Your Own Time, by Stanley Fish. Fish, the noted American professor, claims the "only goal appropriate to the academy is the transmission and advancement of knowledge. When teachers offer themselves as moralists, political activists, or agents of social change rather than as credentialed experts in a particular subject and the methods used to analyze it, they abdicate their true purpose... yet professors now routinely bring their political views into the classroom and seek to influence the political views of their students. Those who do this will often invoke academic freedom." In Fish's view, "academic freedom, correctly understood, is the freedom to do the academic job, not the freedom to do any job that comes into the professor’s mind." 
Fish reminded his peers that abusing academic freedoms could be costly to the profession, because the social sciences have suffered cuts in tenure track slots and a wide embrace of contract position. While the trend was partially driven by market forces, it was also aimed at curtailing political activism on American campuses. It is well understood that, absent tenure, faculty would be less likely to spend their time pursuing political crusades. That much became clear in Great Britain where Mrs. Thatcher abolished tenure. Once a beehive of radical activism, social sciences became much more focused on teaching. 
IAM has repeatedly noted that the Israeli social sciences are outmoded and antiqued, stuffed by a generation of radical scholars and their students whose idea of "cutting edge discipline" is neo-Marxist, critical scholarship. A broad-range of subjects including quantitative methods, network analysis, cyber text analysis - common in American and British universities - have yet to make an appearance in Israel. Unsurprisingly, Israeli social sciences score very poorly in international evaluations. 
The Education Ministry and the university authorities have a fiduciary responsibility to the tax payers who support higher education. Reigning in academic-activists is the first step toward fulfilling this responsibility.
General Articles
 
01.02.17
Israeli Academy and the Ethics Code: "Right Hand Doesn't Know What Left Hand is Doing"
 
IAM reported in December that the Council of Higher Education (CHE) appointed Prof. Asa Kasher to head a panel charged with drafting an academic code. The CHE invited the "public including academia, organizations and private or public bodies, including - students and lecturers from academia and elsewhere, who wish to take a stand on the issue". The ethics code should regulate the "principles and rules of proper ethical code in all areas of activity within higher education institutions, the interfaces between academic activities and political activities". 
The announcement has caused an uproar among academics. The Committee of University Heads was quoted in Haaretz as stating that "In each university there is a set of regulations relating, inter alia, to proper ethical conduct. A unified ethics code to dictate from the outside will be detrimental to freedom of speech, the regularity of the academia and it's independence." 
Some academics posting on the list-server promised to ignore the recommendations of the Kasher committee. Professor Isaac (Yanni) Nevo of BGU wrote: "I agree that there is no place for direct party propaganda in the classroom, and of course, not in research. But this distinction between party and academy, or between propaganda to teaching, does not exhaust the permeability of academia to politics, and the duty of professors and researchers to express their views in the classroom, in an effort to detect and spread the truth, even if it has political implications. Its easy to find a singular case, which may have been a deviation from proper professional standards, and to use it to defame and incite the majority in populist propaganda. Like other ministers in this government Bennett also 'excels' in it... I'm afraid that under the demand for "Rules of political expression", while drawing attention to some exceptional cases of the kind you described, a major assault on the essential academic principles is being waged, particularly the principle of academic freedom... The way to deal with the threat of intervention on behalf of political actors is self restraint and internal academic discipline. I called for drafting a Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression in universities which is designed for this purpose. Academic principles for governing these freedoms include internal restrictions (as opposed to external restrictions) and we as a community that seeks to better protect its freedoms, should clarify them as a basis for prudent moves that will allow opposition to political interference. I repeat my request to the academic community to adopt these principles." 
While the lively debate has been taking place, the list-server also posted an invitation, signed by Dr. Anat Matar, to an event hosted by "Academy for Equality." The Israeli Communist Party (MAKI) reported of the "Discussion of the 'Academy for Equality' at Tel Aviv University: Portrait of Neo-liberal Higher Education," describing the meeting as an "Organization of lecturers from the left," where the host "Dr. Anat Matar introduced the 'Academy for Equality' to a hall packed with students and lecturers and said: "This is a left-wing organization advocating equality in the deepest sense: employment and working conditions, fighting against the occupation and for peace, a campaign on the nature of higher education". 
Dr. Hilla Dayan, a lecturer of sociology and political science at University College Amsterdam spoke next. MAKI described her as a "leader" of "Academy for Equality", who "delineated the character of the neo-liberal university and reported on the struggle which began two years ago in Amsterdam against it". Dayan explained: "In the traditional liberal state there was a separation between the market, to state and society. In the Neo-liberal era, the market covers all sectors of society, everything has become a commodity, including higher education." And "Everything is market," she emphasized, "but there is no free market. We are at a different stage of capitalist development and the word 'human capital' has become a key concept... Universities exists hundreds of years and produced non-profit knowledge. Now, knowledge is a commodity and is sold for profit." According to her, MAKI continues, "the current direction of development of higher education are twofold: "technocratic model" in its service of capital where they mainly teach business management, high-tech and law; And the "college of elites", in which there is social and economic networking among the wealthy class." 
Matar is a veteran member of the Communist Party and both she and Dayan are staunch supporters of the Palestinian call for academic boycott of Israel. 
Right under the noses of the academic community, members of the communist party are hosting an event at TAU using its facilities, students and lecturers, to promote their political agenda. Moreover, they have used the TAU logo on the invitation for the event. 
Clearly, the conference is a political event which lacks any academic merit. Matar, who didn't earn a professorship, has a long history of using the academy to push her political agenda. Unfortunately, she is not the only one. IAM published in 2012 an essay by Ziva Shamir, the former head of the School of Jewish Studies at Tel Aviv University, who accused activist faculty of turning their classroom into an extension of their political agenda, and of using their offices to create mini branches of their political parties. 
Yanni Nevo has suggested that universities establish protocols to deal with ethical behavior. These and the "self restraint" or "internal academic discipline" are enough in this view to avoid a binding ethics code of the type proposed by the Kasher committee. Over the years IAM has posted numerous stories about academics who do not practice what Nevo preaches. For instance, Neve Gordon, whose call for BDS dates to 2009, is still promoting delegitimization of Israel with nary a protest of the BGU authorities. 
It will be interesting to see if the CHE would "put teeth" to the Kasher academic code to end to the abuse of academic privileges.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
25.01.17
BDS on Campus: Is a Rollback in the Making?
 
After years of ascendancy, the BDS movement and the academic infrastructure that supports it maybe taking a turn back. Three recent cases are indicative of this trend. 
The conference organised by Oren Ben-Dor and Ilan Pappe questioning Israel's right to exist, originally slated to take place in Southampton University, U.K, and cancelled, in its new iteration, it was scheduled to take place in University College Cork, Ireland in March 2017. However, the UCC administration has not issued a permit because of safety concerns. The UCC stated that security infrastructure and staff is inadequate for the event, requesting that additional security and costs the organizers would have to cover. The administration also announced that a revised date for the conference needs to be agreed by the university, but cannot take place during the term and should not clash with exams. No new date has been set yet. 
In Canada, Dr. Anthony J. Hall, a pro-BDS professor who claimed that Zionists were behind 9/11, is facing disciplinary action. Hall was suspended from University of Lethbridge in October 2016 and is now referred to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Hall's videos and comments in social media have been characterized as anti-Semitic, supportive of Holocaust denial and engaged in conspiracy theories. A hearing at the Commission could take some years to conclude. 
It is well known that Students for Justice for Palestine (JSP) is a leading promoter of BDS on Western campuses. The group organizes anti-Israel events and harasses Jewish and Israeli students. The group has scores of chapters on campuses, but its recent request to open a chapter at Fordham University was denied. Fordham administration stated its reasons, that there are "no registered student clubs the sole focus of which is the political agenda of one nation, against another nation... For the university's purposes, the country of origin of the student organizers is irrelevant, as is their particular political stance. The narrowness of Students for Justice in Palestine's political focus makes it more akin to a lobbying group than a student club. Regardless of the club’s status, students, faculty and staff are of course free to voice their opinions on Palestine, or any other issue." In response, Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network announced a solidarity rally for Fordham SJP at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. The JSP is planning to engage the Palestinian community in the United States to protest. A number of Palestinian groups have written to the University demanding a retraction of the decision, including the National Lawyers Guild with members such as Bina Ahmad, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights steering committee member and human rights attorney and Lamis Deek, a New York based Palestinian human rights attorney. 
IAM will report on these and other cases as they develop.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
 
Responding to "Delegitimization of Israel, BDS initiatives and the recruit of Israeli academics"
 
We received several comments to our post "Delegitimization of Israel, BDS initiatives and the recruit of Israeli academics". 
Adi Moreno wrote that "from reading your words I get a very uncomfortable feeling of persecution and silencing. Do you maintain that any academic who supports the movement of BDS is an enemy of Israel and anti-Semite? And if in publishing the names of Israeli and Jewish speakers who expressed support for this position are you trying to narrow down their moves? Can supporting the boycott as a call to non-violent resistance be an intellectual position which is legitimate, even if not acceptable by you?" 
One reader responded to Moreno that the International BDS movement does not recognize the Jewish people's right to their own state and therefore is illegitimate. As for those BDS supporters working in the Israeli academia, they are hypocrites because they draw salaries from government institutions they wish to boycott. No organization can employ someone who work blatantly against it. Boycott activity by a university researcher is equivalent to that of a salesperson in a retail store who convinces customers not to buy from his store. 
Another response came from Dr. Tamir Libel who seemed to question IAM's credibility: "I am interested to express my protest in regard to the outrageous allegations against the Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung. I do hope that the directors of this important German foundation will take appropriate legal means to settle the issue." 
It is not clear why Dr. Libel is so worked up about our description of the RLS. The Foundation is named after the Polish Communist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg and, since its inception has supported radical socialist activities. By its own admission, the Stifftung takes great pride in promoting progressive causes in Israel and beyond. The personnel chosen to run the regional offices reflect this trend.  Dr. Katja Hermann, the head of the RLS in Ramallah, has a long record of promoting activities which are hostile to Israel. She, like many other Western pro-Palestinian activists, has hoped that a third intifada can dislodge Israel from the territories. 
Moreover, the conference resolution endorsing academic boycott of Israel which was supported by 400 participants at the 7th International Conference of Critical Geography held in Ramallah at the end of July 2015 was supported by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. Clicking the link leads to the conference supporters, a list of logos following the statement "We are grateful for the support and/or generous donations from" and Rosa Luxemburg is one of them. Of course, the RLS can support its favored causes. But it takes a special kind of intellectual arrogance to describe our fact-based post as "outrageous allegations." 
We repeat, Israeli academics who delegitimize Israel live in a particularly insidious bubble, protected by tenure and the most expansive set of academic freedoms in the Western world. And the tax payer is left with the bill.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
12.01.17
Delegitimization of Israel, BDS initiatives and the recruit of Israeli academics
 
A number of BDS attempts took place recently that need to be addressed. The good news is that the MLA vote on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions was rejected. The bad news is that the Palestinians recruit some Israelis and Jews to lead the calls for boycott. 
This time Ariella Azoulay, Daniel Boyarin and Judith Butler were on hand to lend their support. The MLA Commons which links members for scholarly collaboration posted a statement by Azoulay: "The Palestinian-led BDS movement thus aims to mobilize the international community to respond to a triple call from within that advocates: full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the military occupation of the Palestinian territories, and the right of Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 to return to their homes." 
Other Israeli academics endorsed the boycott but anonymously due to the 2011 boycott law. 
Also disturbing is that the cancelled conference questioning Israel's right to exist which Oren Ben-Dor and Ilan Pappe planned at the University of Southampton, has moved to the University College Cork in Ireland, to be held on March 31-April 2, 2017. A statement by the organizing committee which includes five academics from University College Cork, declared: “Recent developments in some countries – particularly in the US and the UK – have evidenced an chilling repression of academic freedom when it comes to critique of Israeli state policy. The history of this conference reflects these developments. Originally it was planned to hold the conference at the University of Southampton, but growing pressure on academic freedom in the UK forced a decision to move the conference to Ireland.” It seems that only two out of the 45 speakers are supportive of Israel. 
The conspiracy theorists are working overtime a blog of Rehmat World promotes hatred against Jews. Rehmat stated about the Cork conference "Jewish whining aside – Ireland’s ties with the Zionist entity remain resolutely unchanged despite the best efforts of various Irish human rights NGOs such as B’tselem, Gisha and al-Haq – and Palestine solidarity activists." 
Interestingly enough, in 2013 the Irish University Times published an op-ed stating that Ireland is the most anti-Israel country in Europe, that Ireland has a “bizarre obsession” with Israel, that the Palestinian plight is a ‘fashionable’ cause for Irish leftists who are hypocritical and inconsistent because they ignore the more urgent crises elsewhere and that the focus on Israel is the latest manifestation of Irish anti-Semitism. In a response, an Irish pro-Palestinian activist wrote that "Ireland’s ties with Israel remain resolutely unchanged despite the best efforts of various Irish human rights NGOs and Palestine solidarity activists." The conference questioning Israel's right to exist certainly proves him wrong. 
Some of the BDS attempts never got public attention, but they deserve a look because they represent a robust network. Some 400 participants at the International Conference of Critical Geography held in Ramallah in 2015 supported a resolution endorsing Academic boycott of Israel. The conference website states that "during the final session, conference participants voted overwhelmingly for a strong resolution drafted by the ICCG 2015 Organizing Team to sign onto the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott and the broader Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The ICGG Steering Committee also unanimously supported the resolution." Both the Antipode Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation have sponsored this boycott initiative. 
But there are other spheres of sponsorship by Antipode and Rosa Luxemburg targeting Israel. For example, Antipode International Workshop Awards which "intended to support radical geographers holding events," was given to Roi Wagner and Ariel Handel of Tel Aviv University and Mada al-Carmel in Haifa for a “Summer School of Critical Palestine/Israel Studies,” granting them the sum of $10,000. No doubt that this critical studies would be critical of Israel but not of the Palestinians. 
This is not the first time that Antipode sponsors anti-Israel events intending to taint Israel in negative colors and question its legitimacy. For example, by establishing a new field of research: On 8 June 2012, the "Radical Geography Community" of Antipode Foundation posted an editorial titled "Intervention – Past is present: Settler colonialism in Palestine" by several Palestinian activists including Antipode International Advisory Board member Omar Jabary Salamanca and Antipode Staff Reporter Kareem Rabie. The Settler Colonialism initiative began by them with the 2011 conference by SOAS Palestine Society, which "gathers together a series of contributions on settler colonialism and Palestine, and attempts to bring the question of settler colonialism back into Palestine Studies...It is our hope that this issue will catalyse creative, collaborative work that puts the settler colonial framework firmly on the agenda of Palestine studies." 
The Rosa Luxemburg Palestine office not only supports the Palestinian calls for boycott but also promotes a Third Intifada, as stated by the head of the regional office of Palestine: "The 'intifada of youth' is developed within of Palestinian society as a legitimate form of resistance against the occupation regime". Their website is hostile towards Israel with images of the separation barrier, soldiers and checkpoints as the center of Palestinian lives. The Israel office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation offers young Israeli students and scholars to apply for grants. Invitations are being delivered to the social Science community through the Israeli social science network. 
The battle over the boycott of Israel is in force and Palestinians recruit Israeli academics in their efforts to delegitimize Israel.
General Articles
 
05.01.17
Two Reports Concerning Future Science in Israel
 
Two reports were published recently, focusing on the future success of Israeli sciences. One was conducted by Samuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Research, which finds that the number of published papers in academic journals has grown in the last decade but not at the rate of other countries. In other words, Israel’s relative ranking has declined. Neaman researchers found that in mathematics, psychology and brain science, Israel is ranked between 15 and 20 among the 37 countries. Energy, environment and engineering also do poorly compared to other countries. 
Still, the Neaman report found that Israel was doing well in the Information Technology sector. Some fields such as computer science were given high priority in terms of state investments and it bore fruits since Israel is ranked 4. 
The second report was conducted by the Israeli Academy of Sciences which found that the number of scientific papers published per capita has declined since the 1980s from number 1 to 30 today. 
Some scholars argue that publishing voluminous articles and books does not lead to better scholarship and that this measurement should be abolished. The main concern, however, of this report was the decline of investments in labs. The government chief scientist Alexander Bligh stated he would seek improvements in this area. 
The Israel Academy of Science report included a chapter on social sciences, a topic of major concern to IAM. A sub-committee evaluating social science and Humanities was elected from within the Israel Academy of Science; it included Prof. Yohanan Friedmann as chair; Prof. Yoram Bilu; Prof. Avner Holtzman; Prof. Yosef Kaplan; and Prof. Israel Finkelstein as an advisor. 
Their report notes that the field is in decline globally and states that "This collective enterprise [social science] is recently in a state of continuous crisis and is worsening and this, of course, is not only in Israel. A proof for it, is the steady decline in the number of social science students, the so dangerously close to a single-digit percentage of all students in Israeli universities. As a direct result of this, a depreciation of the share of social science in the University's overall stake, and this is having an effect on the attitude of University administrations to these faculties, as it is translated in the allocation of jobs and money. Departments were merged, programs were closed, positions and grooming of young staff are reduced, and some fields of knowledge are facing real 'extinction'. This is a self-inflicting vicious cycle: as the caliber of courses and curricula being lowered, it diminishes their attractiveness for prospective students, which should have produced future researchers, and so on." 
Interestingly, however, the social science report also paid attention to the global post-modern trends. It states that, 
"The 'Linguistic Turn' and the 'Cultural Turn', which were bought to the American and European Academy in the last quarter of the 20th century, challenged prevailing convictions in various fields in the social sciences and was spearheaded by subjects relating to history. The Deconsructive trend has questioned the validity of meta-narratives which ruled western historiography since the beginning of modern historiography. Instead of searching for 'historical truth' post-modern historians put in the center of discussion the examination of competing narratives that reflect different ideological positions, or social and cultural values, that compete them. Post-modern trends, sparked passionate debates in many universities in the Western world and also reached the intellectual sphere in Israel. National meta-narrative, which played a formative role in Israeli society since the beginning of Zionism, was heavily criticized from various angles and had significant repercussions on the historiographical debate. Unfortunately, social science faculties did not play a leading role in these discussions or guided them. Growing challenges of post-modernism, in its various aspects, were not utilized for intellectual reinvigorate in the appropriate departments of social sciences and was hardly reflected in the curriculum of Israeli universities. This reality has created the impression that the Academy lacks proper intellectual leadership and does not fulfill a leading role in debates in the social sciences or culture. This situation has negative ramifications on the status and image of the social sciences in Israeli society and their appeal to the public, especially among the younger generation." 
In other words, the sub-committee embraces post-modern trends and advises Israeli social science faculty to follow suit. 
This advise seems strange considering the growing criticism of post-modern trends in American and British universities. In fact, following the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, this criticism took center stage. 
A number of liberal intellectuals pointed out that the liberal arts which embraced far- fetched left-wing trends and elevated "political correctness" to a defining academic truth, turned colleges into isolated islands where students are "coddled" from reality. As a New York Times article explained, in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century the term elites connoted class. But at the twenty first century, the public considers intellectuals and academics to be an elite totally detached from social reality. In this sense, the populism of Brexit and Trumpism is a reaction to left-wing elitism. 
More to the point, social sciences in the West have been looking for ways to make their offerings more applicable to students needs. Subjects like networking, cyber analysis, and sociology of complex organizations, are very much in demand in the twenty first century market place. Israeli social sciences should broaden their expertise to make themselves more attractive.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
29.12.16
Israel Boycott Vote at the Modern Language Association (MLA) on January 7, 2017
 
A few months ago IAM reported on a group of activists, members of the Modern Language Association (MLA), who have been engaged in promoting the boycott of Israel. The MLA vote on the boycott of Israel will take place in January 7, 2017. As IAM noted, the MLA has some 24,000 members and is a hugely important academic association. The group "MLA Members for Justice in Palestine", that was founded in 2014, have tried before. in June 2014, MLA members failed to pass a resolution that condemned Israel, though the proceeding debate was harsh. For example, Elizabeth Jane Ordonez, professor at the University of Texas and a signatory to the MLA Members for Justice in Palestine petition, called opponents "Zionist attack dogs" in a forum debating the issue. 
A graduate student who wrote under a pseudonym for fear of retribution from pro-BDS faculty furnished the report below. The report notes the several procedural steps are involved. 
The voting body comprises the 297 members of the Delegate Assembly of the MLA. Three resolutions have been placed before the Delegate Assembly: one in favor of a boycott of all Israeli universities; the second, opposing academic boycotts in general; the third, condemning the suppression of academic freedom at Palestinian universities by the Palestinians themselves (the Palestinian Authority and Hamas). 
The resolution which is passed at the Delegate Assembly would be forwarded to the general MLA membership for ratification. Only ratified resolutions are binding. In order to be ratified, two conditions must be met. The resolution must receive the majority of votes cast; and the ‘yes’ votes must represent at least 10% of MLA’s membership in order to constitute a quorum. 
MLA Members for Justice in Palestine invited members to attend several sessions promoting the boycott motion: 
53. “Association Presidents’ Perspectives on Boycott” Thursday, 5 January, 1:45-3:00 p.m., Franklin 8, Philadelphia Marriott 
116. Town Hall Meeting for MLA Members Thursday, 5 January, 5:15–7:00 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salon E, Philadelphia Marriott 
245. Open Hearing on Resolutions Friday, 6 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., Grand Ballroom Salon D, Philadelphia Marriott 
277.Open Hearing of the MLA Delegate Assembly Friday, 6 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salon D, Philadelphia Marriott 
510. MLA Delegate Assembly Saturday, 7 January, 11:00 a.m., Grand Ballroom Salon GH, Philadelphia Marriott 
MLA Members for Justice in Palestine encourage members to "bring anyone who will join you: we want to create a sense of supportive buzz and swell prior to the Delegate Assembly (DA) meeting. The DA only allows delegates to vote on the resolution, but any member present can speak to the issue, and in other associations the presence of supportive members has proven to be very effective in encouraging a vote in favor of the resolution." 
In an effort to dissuade the MLA from voting on the BDS proposal, lawyers from the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) sent a letter to the president and executive director of the MLA. The LDB letter contended that the BDS motion “seeks unprecedented action from the MLA that is far beyond the capacity and powers set forth in the MLA’s corporate charter” making it “inconsistent with the mission and programs that the MLA reports to the IRS.”
Those opposing the boycott motion should attend pro-boycott meetings to counter the "sense of supportive buzz and swell." 
No doubt the MLA meetings will be stormy. Should the boycott motion succeed, IAM would report on the developments.
Ben-Gurion University
 
22.12.16
BGU Neve Gordon's Double Standards
 
IAM reported last week that the British Government adopted the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism as drafted by the European Monitoring Center in 2005. Not surprisingly, this move has prompted a reaction by opponents, including Professor Neve Gordon of Ben Gurion University's department of Politics and Government, who is currently in a two years scholarship at London's SOAS. In a column in the influential London Review of Books, Gordon accuses the British Government of double standards. 
Although Gordon admits that anti-Semitism is on the rise and needs to be challenged, he claims that one category of the Working Definition, out of eleven examples, is dangerous. The Working Definition lists "ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context". Gordon refers to the example of "applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation." Gordon does not agree with "the categorisation of Israel as a democracy (for me as an Israeli Jew it undoubtedly is, but for my Palestinian neighbours in South Hebron it undoubtedly is not)". 
In fact, Gordon himself fits the description of the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism with regard to Israel. Gordon found striking similarities between Israel and South Africa’s apartheid. In his book Israel’s Occupation he found only one "major difference" between the two, that in South Africa the apartheid regime was institutionalized, but "in the West Bank no legislation was introduced to support this practice, and no official government decision was taken to put such legislation into effect". 
Gordon tries to demonstrate the fact that countries tend to use double standards when criticizing other countries. For instance, he accuses the British government of Islamophobia "given that the UK condemns Iran more harshly than China for human rights violations." But he is wrong, Iran sponsors terrorism worldwide, a well documented activity which landed the regime a number one on the State Department and EU lists of countries sponsoring terrorism. China, on the other hand, is not a state sponsor of terrorism. 
Gordon furnishes other examples of double standards of the British government. He accuses the British Government of failing to speak out against Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. But he conveniently fails to mention that the Saudi intervention there was triggered by the so-called Houthi rebellion. Operating under the command of Iran's Quds Force, the foreign operation branch of the Revolutionary Guards, the Shite Houhtis occupied the capital city of Sana and deposed the government. Gordon should know that but is probably not ready to write about Iran's persistent use of terror and civil strife to destabilize countries in the Middle East. 
In fact, like many of his radical activist- academic peers, Gordon has practiced double standards all along. Anyone familiar with his writings would find it hard to come across criticism of human rights violations by Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or Bashar Assad, who has been massacring his own citizens. Neither does he have anything to say about the universally condemned brutality of ISIS, whose ideology justified killing, torture, and rape of civilians for the sake of recreating the Caliphate. 
Gordon should know that practicing such blatant double standards undermines whatever academic legitimacy he may still have.
General Articles
 
15.12.16
The Minister of Education Appoints Asa Kasher to Head a Committee on Ethics Code for the Academe
 
Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Education, has appointed Professor Asa Kasher to chair a committee slated to provide special ethics code to assure that academics do not use their position for political activism. Bennett wrote, “In my role as chairman of the Council for Higher Education, I have recently received many complaints about an ongoing situation of overlap between academic and political activity.” He picked Kasher because of his work on the IDF code of ethics and for being a member over a decade of the bioethics advisory committee of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. 
Over the past decade IAM has reported on serious violations of academic freedom by radical activist faculty. As Ziva Shamir the author of one report, stated that activists used their classrooms, their offices, their research assistants, and even mailing privileges, to create a "local branch" of whatever political party they belong too. Intimidation and harassment of students who do not share the "party line" of their professors is also prevalent, as IAM reported on the complaint of a student. A scholar described his experience in an academic conference, "It became very clear from the start that the audience of fellow scholars was deeply hostile to the approach that I had been asked to present. A discussant claimed that the research I had carried out with colleagues was not academic and had no point. Then one of the academics said that I was a “collaborator.” Then he muttered that I was a “fascist”. Instead of defending me the hosts of the conference gave a stamp of approval to the accusation through their silence (eventually I received a sort-of apology). That was an turning point for me. The unexpected vitriol... among academics and the way it had become personal was unexpected." 
The Kasher committee generated a lively debate on the Academia Network forum; some of the comments were thoughtful, but others were blatant. Uri Weiss, a lecturer at the Graduate School of Business Administration at Bar-Ilan University, organized a petition condemning Bennett, titled "We don't give a damn on the conclusions of the Bennett-Kasher committee." The petition states, "We, professors and university lecturers, declare in advance that we will completely ignore the Kasher committee's conclusions which was appointed by Bennett determining the 'guidelines for political statements of university lecturers.' The regime has no authority to determine how one should express oneself in the academia." The petition which was publicized by Haaretz generated 500 signatures. 
Daniel Bar-Tal encouraged Kasher to decline Bennett's appointment which he described as, "yet another step in the direction of totalitarian thinking." Bar-Tal wrote, "I appeal to you, on behalf of Democratic values and ethics of the academy, not to accept the role given to you by the education minister Naftali Bennett to write recommendations on ethics code for higher education institutions 'regarding political activities and academics'. The role he casts for you is another sign of the will to build a regime with a totalitarian thought - do not lend a hand !!!! His policy in the Ministry of Education and his political path are mirroring his worldview !!!" 
But the requirement for ethics code is not new. Hagit Messer Yaron, the former deputy chair of the CHE, held in 2009 a conference on ethics code for the academia. The Open University posted the proceedings of the conference online. As can be seen, Kasher took part in it along with other academics. The website lists all the known ethics codes in use, in Europe and the U.S., as well as the one drafted by Ben Gurion University. There was no outcry by left-leaning academics, some of whom participated in the conference. 
Imposing a code of ethnics on Israeli universities is long overdue. As the research "Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective" demonstrates, Israeli faculty enjoy an extremely expansive definition of academic freedoms. This had led activist scholars to abuse their privileges, turn social science research into a backwater full of neo-Marxist, critical scholarship, which is not competitive in the international rankings, and shortchanges students and the tax payers.
Ben-Gurion University
 
8.12.16
Chapter 7 in "Women and Jihad" detailing Rachel Avraham's Experience of anti-Israel Bias at Ben-Gurion University
 
IAM has the permission to publish chapter seven in Rachel Avraham's new book Women and Jihad. While pursuing an MA degree at Ben Gurion University and writing a thesis on woman suicide bombers, Rachel felt strong anti-Israel biases which she opposed, only to be harshly criticized and intimidated by BGU staff. She turned to IAM for support. This is her story
General Articles
 
01.12.16
Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Activists [TAU] Gadi algazi, Daniel Bar-Tal, [HUJ] Amir Bitan, [Sapir] Yeela Raanan
 
A number of Israeli academics have been engaged in court cases between Israeli Arabs and the state. 
The recent case pertains to a thirteen-year legal battle over an unrecognized village, Umm-al-Hiran in the Negev, which the court ordered it to be demolished. 
The residents were offered plots of land in Hura, the nearby Bedouin town, as well as financial compensation, but they refused to move. They contend that the government’s desire to move them to the cities Rahat or Hura would change their rural way of life. Having lived in the area for decades, they were never given legal title to the land, making the state the legal owner. Equally important, the Hura local council refuses to let them move to Hura and decided to ban residents from outside into the community. Following a plenary meeting of the Hura local council held a few months ago, the council distributed a letter to residents stating that "the town of Hura will not constitute a default by state agencies for other villages housing solution." 
The decision to demolish the unrecognized village prompted large protests by a number of political activists-cum academics. 
Gadi Algadi, Tel Aviv University professor of Medieval History, wrote on his Facebook page that the "large mobilization of activists and political pressure of the Arab Joint List and lawyers succeeded to postpone the demolition of houses... The village committee invites all of us to arrive early on Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning. It is likely they will block the access roads to the area... Residents invite those who can come to stay overnight in the village and help prevent the demolition of houses. Those among us who can - this is the moment to come." 
Daniel Bar-Tal, a retired Tel Aviv University professor of education, wrote on his Facebook page: "I suppose that many will not like this post - Why ruin such a nice day. And to disturb people. Yet why should we say these things to the Chosen People? So that the People will wake up from ignorance, - to be able to fight antisemitism in clean conscience - so he could look at the mirror- so he can remember how others shamelessly abused us, so that he could look in the eyes of his children in 10 years time to tell of Jewish atrocities, --- this is written by my friend's son -- and I know many things like that happen- occupation of a People against his will results in a resistance of the occupied people to the oppression of the conqueror, all over the world and always will be. It is a universal law --- Isaiah Leibowitz was my teacher in physiological psychology in 1967-8. He opened each class with a short prediction on the people of Israel, that because of the occupation, they will inevitably become brutal, standoffish, cruel and he even used the title Judonazi -- What do you say, was he right in his prophecy ??? The tragedy is that these soldiers are our sons." Bar-Tal referred to the writing of Amir Bitan, (director, department of Information System at the Hebrew University) and apparently his friend's son, who wrote of his harrowing experience when participated in the "non-violent" protest in Umm al-Hiran. 
Yeela Raanan, a lecturer at Sapir College was quoted as saying: “The idea that you can replace one group of citizens with another is intolerable... Right now we have a sprinkling number of Jews, but there should be thousands of Jews.” Raanan was a candidate for the Knesset elections in 2013 on the United Arab List, but did not win a seat. In an interview she sheds light on her political activism in the guise of academics. Her Ph.D. in anthropology of the Middle East from the University of Utah, was tailor- made for her deepening convictions: "I was going in this direction, since the issue of social justice and dealing with marginalized populations was in me for many years. The whole purpose of the dissertation was, when I deal with issues of civil rights I will have PhD before my name and then what I do will have more weight. The purpose of the dissertation was in favor of social justice." Raanan’s involvement with the Bedouins was a logical progression of her self-declared passion for social justice. She noted that only after joining Ben Gurion University faculty she became aware of the Bedouin plight and then became an activist for the Negev Coexistence Forum: “I was shocked, entering an unrecognized village, dealing with the barefoot children who live in poverty, without infrastructure, it brought me to work for them." 
Raanan’s trajectory, like that of Gadi Algazi and other scholars/activists, is typical. They are careful to obtain a well-paid academic position and the legitimacy which goes with it before plunging into activism. Universities in Israel are known for making it possible because virtually all social science departments practice cooptation. In other words, they hire scholars based on their activist potential rather than scholarly merits or the curricular needs of the departments. 
Such practices need to stop to protect the interests of students and the tax payers.
General Articles
 
24.11.16
The Oberlin College and anti-Semitism: The Latest Chapter
 
Earlier this year (in March and August) IAM reported on the case of Dr. Joy Karega of Oberlin College. Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, posted anti-Semitic messages on social media. Following widespread protest, Karega was placed on a paid leave; subsequently, the Board of Trustees fired her. The Board announced that it voted to dismiss Karega because she "violated the fundamental responsibilities of Oberlin faculty members – namely, adherence to the "Statement of Professional Ethics" of the American Association of University Professors." The Professional Ethics requires faculty members to "accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge" and to "practice intellectual honesty." The Board claimed that "Contrary to this obligation, Dr. Karega attacked her colleagues when they challenged inconsistencies in her description of the connection between her postings and her scholarship. She disclaimed all responsibility for her misconduct. And she continues to blame Oberlin and its faculty committees for undertaking a shared governance review process." 
A few days later, on November 19, a case of anti-Semitism was reported to the police which some connects to the dismissal of Karega. Benjamin Kuperman, an Oberlin College associate professor and chair of the computer science department, was awoken by noise outside his home about 3:25 a.m. He said he found smashed on the porch his decorative items and a note behind his mezuzah with letters glued that said “Gas, Jews, Die.” 
The two cases may or may not be related, but certainly, as can be seen, anti-Semitism is ripe in Oberlin. But this is not first time. An earlier incident took place in 1996 when Kwame Ture, a former prime minister of the Black Panthers and founder of the pan-Africanist group, the All-African People's Revolutionary Party, visited Oberlin and caused a stir which lead to a large campus dialogue between supporters of Zionism and of proponents of a free Palestine. Ture talked about Zionism and the pan-African movement in an anti-Zionist speech that elicited the university to respond. 
Oberlin College received a lot of negative publicity because of the anti-Semitic incidents. The Karega case, however may be just a beginning of a new chapter in Oberlin's troubles. She has threatened to bring legal action against her former employer. It is safe to assume that Professor Karega would claim that her academic freedoms were violated by the college. It would then be up to the courts to decide about the boundaries between anti-Semitic expressions and faculty freedom of expression. IAM will report on this issue.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
 16.11.16
TAU Shlomo Sand endorses BDS
 
IAM reported last August on a study-tour to Israel/Palestine conducted by Le Monde Diplomatique. Participants were expected to meet, among others, Shlomo Sand, the retired Tel Aviv University professor. Sand, a former member of the radical anti-Zionist group Matzpen utilized his tenured position to publish highly controversial books which denied the existence of the Jewish people and/ or their link to the Holy Land. 
Many of his critics claimed that Sand has been a professional provocateur. Also known as a political activist, he published an article in Haaretz in March 2015, "All Israelis Should Vote for the Arab List". But now he is onto something new. Although calls for BDS are illegal in Israel, Sand simply ignores the law. In a recent interview Sand endorsed BDS. He asserted: "I think the world has to put boycotts and sanctions against Israel." Sand explained that those who boycott Israel do not want to destroy the state but pressure the government "to stop the occupation." He noted that "If Europe decided to boycott Russia because of Crimea, there is not any reason European states and the United States cannot start to put pressure on Israel". Sand also stated that "I think the pressure today is not a danger to the existence of the Israeli state. We don’t really have military enemies today" and that "the only hope to save Israel from itself is pressure from outside." 
Sand has been criticized by many of his academic peers who say about him "when it comes to Israel, Sand is less historian than upper-middlebrow conspiracy theorist." For instance, Lynn Levin, who teaches English Literature at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in response to his interview, "Sand proves himself to be one-sided and propagandistic." Levin refuted Sand's arguments to conclude "I do not think that Shlomo Sand’s thinking is very helpful." Levin wrote, "Sand, along with Israel’s most implacable enemies, favors BDS." She explained that, "BDS is basically an attempt to isolate and stigmatize Israel under the mock position of asserting high moral principles. In a self-serving comment, Sand says that he is not in favor of the BDS academic sanctions because he is an academic himself. He is pro-BDS as long as it does not apply to him." She dismissed his arguments: "His charge is baseless and launched not from facts and data... [and he] says nothing of prejudicial attitudes of Palestinians." 
But Levin and the legions of Sand's critics miss an important point. Sand, as a professional provocateur, adopted the provocation tactics of Matzpen. However, unlike his former colleagues who ended in the proverbial dustbin of history, Sand became a superstar in the radical circles because of his academic credentials. Tel Aviv University, which promoted him despite the fact he published outside his field of expertise, French culture, gave this former postal clerk (during his Matzpen days) an academic legitimacy.
General Articles
 
09.11.16
Campus Antisemitism Alive and Kicking
 
A recent study by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute and the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University "Hotspots of Antisemitism and Anti-Israel Sentiment on US Campuses" has revealed an interesting pattern of anti-Semitism on campus. The analysis found that a substantial number of Jewish students reported being exposed to antisemitism and hostility toward Israel on many American campuses. The extent of antisemitism, however, varied considerably from one campus to another. 
The report found that the rise of the BDS movement on campus has contributed to antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment. The report reveals that antisemitic incidents on campus have increased. Among others, the report found that "One of the strongest predictors of perceiving a hostile climate toward Israel and Jews is the presence of an active Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group on campus." 
The scope of the problem is considerable. About one third of Jewish students reported being verbally harassed because they were Jewish. Almost half were told that "Israelis behave like Nazis toward the Palestinians" and one quarter were blamed for the actions of the Israeli government because they are Jewish. The highest levels of perceived antisemitism and hostility toward Israel were found in schools in the California state system and, to a lesser extent, large land-grant universities in the Midwest. 
Quite surprisingly, the report revealed that more than one third of Jewish students feel a bit uncomfortable to express opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of a lack of adequate knowledge of the issue. Of course, giving Jewish students a better education on issues involving the conflict would help. However, on a positive note, the report found that even with the hostility toward Israel, it did not appear to diminish the students emotional attachment to Israel. 
Holding the university authorities responsible for campus intimidation is a good alternative, as a legal case in a British university indicates. The Tower , which covers the Middle East and America’s interests in the region, reported a case involving a disabled student at Sheffield Hallam University when he was wearing a Star of David or a kippah. The student felt "vulnerable" on campus when "people were giving me dirty looks or trying to block my wheelchair." After contacting the university authorities, he was referred to the student union, only to be dismissed outright. Undeterred, he moved on to seek another advice. 
The student approached Lesley Klaff, an expert on antisemitism and a senior lecturer in law at his university. Together with David Lewis, a law colleague, Klaff took the case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), a universities regulator, which took the matter seriously. The OIA cited the European Parliament’s Working Definition of Antisemitism in determining that material circulated by Sheffield Hallam’s Palestine Society "crossed the line" from criticism of Israel into anti-Semitic abuse. The OIA criticized the university for not treating the complaint with appropriate seriousness and noted that it "failed to properly turn its mind to the question of whether [the student] had experienced harassment as a result of certain aspects of PalSoc’s social media activity." The OIA urged the university to pay the student £3,000 in compensation. 
This case shows that if university authorities are faced with fines they would most likely fight expressions of antisemitism on their campuses and that Jewish students should turn to legal remedy if necessary.
   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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