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Articles by IAM Associates
Radical post-Zionist academics unite in Protest: Activist Ariella Azoulay needs their support against Bar-Ilan U


Radical Post Zionist Academics Unite in Protest


Ariella Azoulay, an artist and lecturer in arts who taught at Bar Ilan

University until two years ago when her yearly contract was no longer

renewed. She appealed the decision but the authorities there refused to

extend her employment.  Like other universities in Israel, Bar Ilan does

not discuss in public its deliberations, but the decision had

triggered a storm of criticism from radical post Zionists who accused the

university of discrimination based on Azoulay’s political views.



It should be emphasized that the bulk of Azoulay's  art work focuses on the

"Israeli occupation", showing Israel in a highly  negative light.   Azoulay position 

on what she calls “torture photographs” [of Palestinians arrested by Israeli security 

forces] is highly telling in this respect.  She asserts that even though the images 

do not depict actual torture, they should be considered “modes of torture.”  

Such contorted explanations have made her popular among those who wish to 

delegitimize Israel.  Needless to say, Azoulay, who argues that the photographer has a “contract” to show violence in daily life, has shied away from depicting Israeli victims of suicide bombings.


Yesterday Haaretz newspaper published an article about the affair [see article in

full below] and some seventy scholars signed a petition protesting her

treatment.  What is most astonishing, a Bar Ilan spokesperson denied that

the University received the petition. The only logic explanation for this

strange fact is that the organizers decided that generating headlines in

the media was the preferable course of action.  



Petition aside, individual professors rushed to condemn the University.

Neve Gordon, a political scientist from Ben Gurion University, who

supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, protested Azoulay’s mistreatment.  Professor Yehuda Shenhav from Tel Aviv University,  a radical scholar who insists that the Mizrahim in Israel are in reality Arab Jews victimized by Zionism, asserted that:  “Few people dispute the fact that Ariella Azoulay is one of the most important

researchers in cultural studies in Israel today."  He also noted several

recent cases of “persecution of lecturers in a political context,”

adding: “this is one of the crudest instances of preferring sectoral

considerations over academic excellence.” Another political activist

from the Hebrew University, Professor Yaron Ezrahi, expressed his anger at Bar Ilan University for refusing to employ Azoulay because of her political views.  In his opinion, “This could contaminate the entire higher

education system in Israel.”



Professor Ezrahi should not worry about “the contamination of the entire

higher education system.” If anything, radical post Zionists, including

those who support BDS, are overrepresented in the social science and

humanities.  As for Azoulay herself, she is not out of a job either.

 Azoulay's partner is Professor Adi Ophir, director of the Lexicon for

Political Theory research project at The Minerva Humanities Center, an

associate Professor for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at

Tel Aviv University and a Fellow at The Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.  



Ophir recruited Azoulay and a long list of Neo-Marxists, whose official title

is “critical theorists”.  For those mystified by academic jargon, “critical

theorists” is just another name of a huge cadre of radical activists who

follow the dictum of Antonio Gramsci of mixing scholarship with political

action.   In the case of Ophir and Azoulay, as well as Gordon and Shenhav,

the bulk of their political action is aimed at delegitimizing Israel in the

international arena by comparing it to the apartheid state of South Africa.

 The Minerva Center is supported by the German Minerva Stiftung which like many European Union foundations is dedicated to “conflict resolution.”  


Ophir’s credentials in this respect are stellar: he described the 1948

explosion of Palestinian as “genocide” and wanted the European Union to

force Israel out of the territories, musing; Israel deserves more severe 

treatment, “if things go on as they are,” perhaps a NATO-style bombing 

of Israel will come.  


Instead of raising alarm bells over Bar Ilan’s alleged mistreatment of

Azoulay, Israeli academics should engage in an honest debate about the

widespread phenomenon of post Zionism self co-optation and collaboration 

and the political agenda of the foreign sources that supports many of their project.




Published 02:32 03.03.11Latest update 02:32 03.03.11

Top Israeli professors charge Bar-Ilan University with political persecution

Dr. Ariella Azoulay, a professor in Bar-Ilan's Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies program, says the university denied her tenure and promotion due to her leftist leanings.

  Ariella Azoulay, Courtesy

By Or Kashti


Some 70 prominent lecturers from various universities nationwide this week accused Bar-Ilan University of political persecution and denying lecturers promotion and tenure due to their political opinions and activity.


The lecturers called on the Council For Higher Education to look into the university's appointment procedures, following its decision to deny tenure to Dr. Ariella Azoulay last year. The university also recently decided - again - not to promote Dr. Menachem Klein, of the political science department, to professor.



Bar-Ilan dismissed the allegations saying "decisions about promoting lecturers are made solely on the basis of their academic achievements."


About a month ago Bar-Ilan rejected Azoulay's appeal to reconsider the appointment committee's decision not to grant her promotion and tenure. Consequently, Azoulay will stop teaching in Bar-Ilan's Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies program, as she has been doing since 1999.


Azoulay, who has published about 10 books and numerous essays in prominent journals, said the university denied her tenure and promotion because of her leftist leanings.


"Dr. Azoulay is one of the world's leading researchers in photography and visual culture," the lecturers' group wrote to the Council and Bar-Ilan's president and rector.


In view of Azoulay's international recognition, "the university's decision raises a heavy suspicion of political persecution," they wrote.


Prof. Yaron Ezrachi of Hebrew University's political science department said "Bar-Ilan has learned to conceal political considerations, disguising them as academic processes. We fear the precedent of firing lecturers for radical political views of any kind, despite their international academic excellence. This could contaminate the entire higher education system in Israel."

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