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Ben-Gurion University
Editorial Note: The international war against Israel's Council of Higher Education

Radical scholars and their supporters urged a broad-based campaign to dissuade the Council of Higher education to accept the proposal of its sub-committee on evaluation to stop enrollment in the Department of Government and Politics at Ben Gurion Universality as of 2013-4 Unless BGU implements the requirements. The CHE is scheduled to meet on October 31, 2012 to decide on the issue.

The weekend edition of Israel Hayom carried out an article by Dr. Dror Eydar mentioning an internal email by David Newman, the Dean of Social Sciences at Ben Gurion University disusing the university's strategy. Newman wrote: “I am in favor of applying international pressure — in proper measure — together with a trickle of letters from a number of associations and people with international reputations — some of which will reach the media — in parallel with all the other kinds of pressure that are being applied today to the Council for Higher Education by lawyers and the activity of the president and the rector. It is not a 100-percent match to the policy that we set until now, but it seems to me that they are under pressure now and we need to keep up the pressure and not let up."
As IAM indicated, the campaign to mobilize foreign associations against the CHE using misleading information has been highly successful. Since the previous IAM posting on this issue, the following groups have sent petitions:

  • Letter from the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR): "[W]e wonder what the reasons for the harsh measures threatened by the Israeli Council of Higher Education might be. We urge the CHE not to take measures that might be construed as an infringement upon academic freedom."
  • Letter from the The Canadian Association of University Teachers"There are credible allegations that the recommendation to close the department is politically motivated. Several academics within the department have faced pressure and criticism for views they hold with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....we remind you that the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel grants professors the right to academic freedom..."
  • American Sociological Association: "it seems that, when Dr. Ian Lustick, an internationally recognized expert on Israeli society and politics, was suddenly taken off the subcommittee.... and Dr. Robert Shapiro resigned in protest..." as well as "disregarding 50% of the articles published by faculty in the department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University, as well as six of their books - all published by high quality presses....The decision "raised the concern that the most recent recommendation of the subcommittee was based less in issues of quality of instruction and scholarship than in political substance" and that "the impression that political issues may be driving the recommendation".
  • American Political Science Association: "Our concern is that no action be taken which is either directly or inadvertently an assault on the ability of members of our profession to practice intellectual honesty or that would compromise the freedom of their inquiry and teaching. Academic freedom is the foundation of our scholarly endeavors..."
  • The French Political Science Association: "The Department of Politics and Government is an internationally respected academic department, with excellent and productive researchers and teachers, representing a broad range of methodological and theoretical approaches....We are very alarmed by this incident, and the disastrous impact it would have on a leading Israeli university and tomorrow, maybe, on other ones. This is an unprecedented decision which would severely damage Israel’s reputation. Freedom of expression, and the right to criticize, are at the heart of academia in democratic countries, and should be protected and nourished."

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