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Ben-Gurion University
Joel Migdal - A New Hire at BGU, the Department of Politics and Government


Prof. Joel Migdal

Affiliated Professor

Areas of Interest: American foreign policy, research theoretical issues of state-society relations, parallel and intersecting patterns of change among Palestinians and Israelis, and the construction of public space and its relation to civil society and democracy.

Editorial Note:  A New Hire in the Department of Government and Politics
At the core of the intense battle that radical scholars and their supporters wage against the Council of Higher Education, is the question of how diversified the Department of  Politics and Government should be.   The international committee that evaluated the Department in 2011, found that the faculty is not capable to teach core political science topics, including research methods and is too monolithic to provide a balanced teaching experience for the students, as required in turning the classroom into a marketplace of ideas. 
The Department has hired Gal Ariely, a positivist scholar with knowledge of research methods to prove its proper response to the recommendation.  The Ben Gurion University authorities have made much of this new appointment when accusing the CHE of political persecution.

Understandably, the Department is much less forthcoming on additional appointments in the categories of fellows and affiliated scholars.   IAM reported on two of them- Hadar Kotef and James Ron, radical activist scholars who have made a career of defaming Israel.  
Joel Migdal, a new affiliate scholar, is also a case in point, a perennial critic of Israel, Migdal has blamed Israeli leaders for the failure of Camp David II;  while whitewashed Yasser Arafat and the mismanaged, corrupt and violent Palestinian Authority.  While Benny Morris and other critics of Israel came to see the Palestinians as largely responsible for their own problems, to judge by the following article, Migdal is steadfast in his views.
Migdal is of course entitled to his political views, but the question is in what way does the new hire contribute to the mandate of balanced education and a marketplace of ideas.  


July 18, 2012

Sitting in the Betty White Café (that’s right!) in Tel Aviv

(This is the second part of the article)

And this list of woes does not even include the occupation of the West Bank.  Here, in Tel Aviv, that occupation seems so far away.  But, in reality,    it is less than an hour’s drive to the occupied territories.  The sons and daughters of the Tel Aviv elite, along with those of the poorer sectors of society, have to enforce that occupation.  And that enforcement eats away    at the fabric of society.  Negotiations with the Palestinians that might bring the occupation to an end do not seem to be on the horizon, despite this week’s visit and exhortations by Hillary Clinton.  A solution, though, seemed to appear this week.  Yet another government commission reported that the occupation never really existed.  Everything that Israel is doing (and has done) in the West Bank are perfectly legal.  Alas, such dubious conclusions do not hide the fact that the sons and daughters have to man checkpoints and round up Palestinians.  No serious solution to that problem seems remotely near.

I guess that Israel lives with the schizophrenia like other societies do.  But here the starkness between the beautiful people of Tel Aviv and the ugliness of the occupation are particularly dramatic.  One can sip iced tea in Betty White while writing on a MacBook Air about state-society relations and momentarily forget about inequality and occupation.  But the truth is that, while the problems Israel faces may be hidden, they are having a corrosive effect on life here.



Professor Joel S. Migdal is the Robert F. Philip Professor of International Studies in the University of Washington ‘s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

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