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[IDC] Meretz leader Galia Golan fails to see connection between political activism and poor academic standards at BGU

 Prof. Galia Golan: ggolan@idc.ac.il

Editorial Note:

Professor Galia Golan, A Pioneer of Academic Activism Responds to the CHE.
According to the leaked copy of report of the Council for Higher Education, Galia Golan (IDC) a former professor at the Hebrew University, is a member of the international committee that issued a highly negative evaluation of the Department of Politics and Government at BGU. She wrote a dissenting opinion, stating "I fail to see the connection" between the report's linkage of political activism to the poor academic standards in the department. Golan's self-admitted failure to see the connection is not surprising as she practically wrote the book on political activism in the academia.
Golan was an expert on Soviet Union at the Hebrew University when she co-founded Peace Now, serving as its unofficial spokesperson; she later joined the leadership of the leftist Meretz Party. With no background in the Middle East, Golan used her academic credentials to become an "expert" on the Arab-Israeli conflict and, like many of her cohorts, pushed hard for the Oslo peace process. Ofira Seliktar in Doomed to Failure? The Politics and Intelligence of the Oslo Peace Process, detailed how Golan and other leftist academics first mobilized to "vouch" for Yasser Arafat and then whitewashed his corrupt Palestinian Authority, while ignoring the role of Hamas and Iran in undermining the peace process. Golan's performance in this respect was characteristic; in a 1995 article on Palestinian women, she seemed to be somewhat frustrated by an increase of polygamy, forced marriage and other signs of "placating Hamas." Yet she ended on a "party-line" note, proclaiming an alleged readiness of Palestinian women to join the global feminist movement. Needless to say, after the collapse of the peace process, Golan was one of the first to put virtually all the blame on Israeli "intransigence."
Golan has also used her academic credentials to further her feminist activism. As an expert on feminism she reached the conclusion that wars are a "male thing:" "War is always a gender thing - as the guys play with their machines and try to prove their masculinity. But this war [Second Lebanon War] especially is. My first response the day the war started in the north was that the Israeli reaction was a male pride thing. Coming just after the incursion and capture of the soldier at Karem Shalom, the Hizbollah turns around and captures two more Israeli soldiers on its front. Our guys went beserk - insulted, their manhood humiliated. And then begins the insane escalation with the two boys, IDF and Hizbollah daring each other, you hit Beirut, I'll hit Haifa, and so it went."
Not surprisingly, Golan forgot to mention that since the IDF's withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000, the "boys from Hizbollah" have kidnapped and killed solders and civilians alike and repeatedly shelled the north of Galilee. She probably did not stop to think that this behavior was encouraged because "the boys from IDF" did not respond to the aggression. Golan, now a professor of International Relations at IDC, should know a thing or two about deterrence. Then again, Golan has never let her academic training to stand in the way of her activism, making it hard for her to understand why the CHE should demand academic integrity from her colleagues at BGU.


Published 01:12 29.11.11 - HAARETZ
Education body to vote on reporton 'slanted' BGU faculty
Panel member admits criticism in report may also have been political.

By Talila Nesher

The Council for Higher Education is set to vote Tuesday to ratify the external report it commissioned on the political science faculties at Israel's universities, including Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Politics and Government Department, which came under heavy criticism. The document lists a series of shortcomings at Ben-Gurion University and even advises, as a last resort, closing down the department entirely if the problems are not resolved.

The report also refers to the fact that students at the Ben-Gurion University department are exposed to the personal political opinions of their professors, noting: "Lecturers must ensure that their personal opinions are presented as such, so that the students can judge things from a critical perspective and be exposed to a wide range of perspectives and alternatives."

Further to claims by members of the teaching staff at Ben-Gurion's Politics and Government Department that the committee's work was motivated by political considerations, committee member Prof. Galia Golan, from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, has told Haaretz that the shortcomings exposed at the Negev institution may indeed have been politically biased.

"I felt that some of the committee members, with specific political opinions, were trying to find fault with the place," Golan said. "I don't know if these were instructions from above, but I felt that things were not being conducted fairly."

According to Golan, the same supposed shortcomings that were revealed at Ben-Gurion University weren't even mentioned in the reports on the other institutions, "because they weren't perceived as problematic."

Golan said that "with regard to Ben-Gurion University, [committee] members tended to ignore the positive things and underplay their significance.

"My efforts to convince the committee otherwise came to naught," she added. "The attitude toward the university was unlike the attitude elsewhere."

Golan, who refused to sign the section of the report dealing with the Ben-Gurion University department, also recently sent a letter to the Council for Higher Education warning of the document's lack of fairness and urging that the matter be considered before the conclusions are adopted.

"Distinct political opinions influenced the judgment of some of the [committee] members," Golan told Haaretz. "The chairman of the committee actually tried to be as neutral as possible; but in the end, people were guided by a political approach."

According to Prof. David Newman, the dean of Ben-Gurion's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and one of the founders of its Politics and Government Department, "The department has become a target for attack by all those who wish to suppress any pluralist dialogue and trample every piece of academic freedom. One brief glance at this activity is enough to grasp the inherent danger it poses for the existence of Israeli democracy."

A statement from the Council for Higher Education said: "We totally reject the claim of political considerations ... The evaluation committee is made up of experienced individuals of academic renown in Israel and abroad. The assessment of the Political Science Department at Ben-Gurion University was conducted in the same manner in which the other institutions were assessed.

"The committee, which carried out an independent assessment, was of the opinion that the Ben-Gurion University department is acutely lacking senior staff at the core of the field, and that this requires immediate rectification."


Extracted from:

EXCLUSIVE: Excerpts of leaked report on BGU’s Politics Dept


Saturday, November 26 2011|Dahlia Scheindlin

Finally, the finding that emphasis on social activism must come at the expense of disciplinary training is illogical in itself – and thus the recommendations that flow from this lack a comprehensible basis. This point was the focus of Prof. Galia Golan’s dissenting view.

Minority Opinion by Prof. Galia Golan: I agree with most everything in the Report with the exception of the section of the report on the Mission plus the two Recommendations emanating from this.

I do not see how, as stated in the Mission section of the Report, “the study of politics as a scientific discipline may be impeded by such a strong emphasis on political activism.” I fail to see the connection, which actually is repeated in the statement that the “strong emphasis on community activism raises two questions.” I agree with the content of the first question listed, namely, “are students receiving a sufficiently rigorous foundation in the discipline of politics and government to equip them with a necessary grounding in the important ideas and understandings common to the subject and the discipline?” but, again, I do not see this as connected with an emphasis on community activism, but, rather, it is connected with the absence of sufficient core Political Science courses. Further, as this section continues, there is also a reference to “balance [of views]…in the classroom.” I am not certain who or how a “balance” might be determined, but I believe that such a demand runs directly counter to the principle of academic freedom, a basic principle of university education.

From this, it is clear that I cannot agree with the recommendations that refer to “broad exposure to perspectives and alternatives” and “an effort that the program is perceived as balanced by the community concerned.”





LA event with political science Prof. Galia Golan - member of the Meretz party leadership

01/28/2011 - 8:00am

Meretz USA is delighted to co-sponsor a special breakfast program featuring political science Professor Galia Golan, a longstanding Meretz party leader and a key figure in Peace Now in Israel.

Friday, January 28, 2011, 8:00-9:30 a.m.
Factor's Deli - Back Room
9420 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles (just east of S. Beverly Drive)

Baget Breakfast Buffet begins at 8:00 a.m.
Discussion to follow

Cost: $15

RSVP to meretzusa.la@gmail.com

Given the current shake-up in Israeli party politics, and the tumultuous events in Israel, it is an ideal time for Political Scientist and peace activist Galia Golan to be in L.A. and provide her analysis. Professor Golan is among the most incisive and articulate speakers on this issue and appears regularly in the Israeli and international press.

The event is sponsored by Americans for Peace Now.
About Prof. Golan:
Professor Galia Golan is the head of the M.A. program and the M.A. specialization in Diplomacy and Conflict Studies at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel. She is the author of nine books mainly on Soviet policy in the Middle East, as well as monographs and articles including work on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Her most recent works include a book, Israel and Palestine: Peace Plans and Proposals From Oslo to Disengagement. Golan was the recipient of the 2007 Israeli Political Science Association Award for Contribution to the Field, the 1995 New Israel Fund Award for Women in Leadership, and the 1999 Gleistsman Activist Award for long-time peace activism.

To read more about Galia Golan, click here

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