Following a meeting of the Knesset’s Education Committee on the 28th of April 2010, the chairman of the committee, MK Zevulun Orlev, requested that Im Tirtzu prepare a full report of its findings regarding the overpowering anti‐Zionist bias in Israeli academia, as well as the exclusion and silencing of those who hold divergent opinions. In accordance with the decision of the Education Committee, this report will be communicated to the Council for Higher Education, who will then study its content and provide its conclusions to the Education Committee.
Unlike the accusations which have been levelled since the meeting of the Education Committee, the goal of this report is not to silence opinions we disagree with but rather, the opposite, to bring about true academic freedom in Israel, by allowing for a marketplace of ideas. We wish to expose the strength and volume of the anti‐Zionist bias in the Israeli academia in order to provide to all students in Israel the ability to study and research in an environment of true freedom, mutual respect and openness which are unfortunately not present in today’s higher education.
The first part of the report is based on a study done which investigated the treatment of Zionism and nationalism in the political science departments of Israeli universities, through the study of the syllabuses of the courses which deal with these subjects. The study was done in May 2008 and was academically overseen by Dr. Udi Lebel and Dr. Ran Baratz. The study discovered that anti‐Zionist and/or post‐Zionist material is used in political science departments at Israeli universities 80% of the time, leaving only 20% for the study of Zionist and nationalist material.
The continuation of Part A of the report deals with exploitation of professors’ positions of influence to promote their one‐sided political positions. In November 2009, Professor Nira Hativa, who was responsible for the computerized feedback provided by students to their professors, wrote that “there are a lot of students of professors (with leftist opinions) that complain and report that they feel significantly hurt by the presentation of facts from a perspective which is contrary to their views but that they are worried to express opposing views because they feel such an expression might reflect badly on their marks or other things which professors have control over.” Professor Hativa continued and wrote: “I was exposed to many complaints from students of professors who express extreme leftist positions in their lectures and attack the State of Israel, the Israel Defence Forces, the Zionist movement and other, even worse, things”. The students, she adds, “sit frustrated in these lectures”.
This research demonstrates the findings which were found through the computerized feedback and brings concrete testimonies of students who feel that, under the cover of free speech, many professors exploit their positions in order to disseminate controversial extremist political opinions.
sometimes even bringing activists from the extreme left as guest lecturers to their courses. Other testimonies show a discriminatory and humiliating relation towards students who attempt to express differing opinions. In addition to the testimonies, the report also provides examples of syllabuses which show the sheer breadth of one‐sided bias. For example, some courses require their students go on field activities with extreme leftist organizations such as Machsom Watch and Yesh Din. Notably, the report also includes the research of Ms. Tal Nitzan, that received a distinction from the Israeli Council for Sociology for her paper that claimed that IDF soldiers do not rape Palestinian women because they are racist.
Part B of the report deals with the fact that, in the last few years, Israeli universities have become a central ground for anti‐Israel and pro‐Terror activist groups. The report describes various conferences which were organized in the past few years, with the permission of the university’s leadership and through the exploitation of free speech, where calls for the destructions of Israel and support for terror were heard.
Part C of the report presents the participation of Israeli professors and academics in calling for boycotts and sanctions against Israel. The report lists hundreds of Israeli professors that have participated in petitions, articles, speeches and activities whose goals were to hurt the nternational image of the State of Israel in general, and of the Israeli academia more specifically.
We want to thanks Dr. Dror Eidar for his help in the preparation of the report, Dr. Udi Lebel and Dr. Ran Baratz for the academic supervision given during the preparation of the syllabus research in 2008, to “Israel Academia Monitor” and to Ms. Dana Bernett on the work they have done to put together Part C of the report, and to the dozens of students that had the courage to testify in front of us.
By Dan Illouz: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read the new Im Tirtzu report in Hebrew click here: http://www.stuffings.co.il/Im-Tirzu/AcademicSpeechGag.pdf
To read media coverage in Hebrew click here: http://www.israelhayom.co.il/site/newsletter_article.php?a=6734 and http://www.israelhayom.co.il/site/newsletter_article.php?a=6763