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"Poor return on investment" - Israel Academia Monitor responds to the Times
Published in the Times Higher Education on May 30, 2013

Poor return on investment
Regarding “Israel Academia Monitor fears the enemy within” (News, 16 May): your article misses an important part of our round-table debate on academic freedom in Israel.
Radical scholars who use their positions to advocate a political agenda short-change students and taxpayers. The former are deprived of a sound liberal-arts education that values the fair comparison of ideas and the latter are forced to pay salaries to faculty engaged in political propaganda. 

As the round table heard, this state of affairs would not be tolerated in public universities in Germany, the UK or the US. 

Israel’s expansive definition of academic freedom has hurt the comparative standing of its social science, which trends below Western averages (in contrast, hard sciences and engineering in the country, free from political distortion, score well above average). In a highly competitive global economy, human capital matters: by any measure, Israeli taxpayers receive a poor return on their investment.

The comment made by David Katz, professor of early modern history at Tel Aviv University, that IAM is read only by a “fringe” group of people who seek to have their views confirmed is mistaken. Our website receives in excess of 1 million hits a week – hardly a fringe response – and our editorials have been reprinted on numerous occasions. Indeed, many moderate academics have written to us to offer their thanks and encouragement.
Katz’s suggestion that few professors bring their politics into the classroom, and that those who do cause no damage, is emblematic of liberals who try to minimise the misdeeds of their radical colleagues by portraying them as “harmless” or “misguided”. He should be reminded that these “harmless” academics pioneered the movement to boycott Israeli universities and provided much of the “scientific” literature proving that Israel is an apartheid state.

Israel Academia Monitor
Even Yehuda, Israel





Israel Academia Monitor fears the enemy within

16 MAY 2013
 
Debate on academic politics in Israel has been reignited by Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott a presidential conference after lobbying from Palestinian colleagues.
Meanwhile, a campaigning Israeli organisation has claimed that universities in the country - and the state itself - are being undermined from within by academics with pro-Palestinian viewpoints.
Introducing a round-table event on academic freedom in Tel Aviv on 3 May, Dana Barnett, director of the Israel Academia Monitor (IAM), stated that “neo-Marxist critical scholars” had “expanded control of humanities and social sciences departments” in the country.
Ofira Seliktar, professor of political science at Gratz College in Pennsylvania, argued that Israeli academics enjoyed greater freedom than those in the UK, Germany and the US - but at “a heavy price”, with many “using their classroom as a platform for political indoctrination rather than a ‘marketplace of ideas’”.
Michael Gross, a member of the board of governors at Ben Gurion University, said he believed that poor corporate governance had led to a situation “where elements of the university are now…out of control”, with its department of politics “an anti-pluralistic bastion of one-sided anti-Israel far leftist agitprop”.
Meanwhile a master’s student at Ben Gurion, Rachel Avraham, spoke of her objections to a professor on her course who asserted “that Israel is violating international law” and “is the main impediment for peace”.
But commenting on the event, David Katz, professor of early modern European history at Tel Aviv University, said that IAM was part of “the fringe internet media…read by people who want further confirmation of views they already have”.
He said he did not approve of professors speaking as academics on political issues “unless they are experts”, although he added that “as long as they keep it out of the classroom, they are welcome to take part in political life”.
“Few professors violate that trust, but those who do are harmless, even if they express views more extreme than the ones quoted [by Ms Avraham], which are held by many Israelis,” he said.

REFERENCE:

Article originally published as: Israel Academia Monitor fears the enemy within (16 May 2013)
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