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Hebrew University
Bias at the Hebrew University Social Science Network
Editorial Note:  
Following IAM's Roundtable on "Academic Freedom in Israel" Dr. Rami Kaplan posted his Hebrew review on the Social Science Network, a Hebrew University service for the social science community.  As is acceptable in academic discourse, IAM posted on the Network a response to Kaplan, (see below) but our second effort to respond to the burgeoning discussion engendered by Kaplan's post were denied. Instead, the following day in an unprecedented move Dr. Amir Tal, the Network moderator, wrote a letter apologizing for allowing the IAM response to Kaplan in the first place.  Tal accused IAM of using "harassing" and "intimidating" language and reminded all network users that they should refrain from ad hominem attacks and disrespectful language.   Needless to say, there was nothing "harassing" nor "intimidating" in any of our posts.
Tal's position reflects what IAM has known for years, namely that the Social Science Network is heavily biased toward leftist scholarship.  For instance, our posts have been rejected on many occasions; after agreeing to post our invitation to the Roundtable, the moderator rejected a reminder, while organizers of events whom the moderators find more palatable are allowed to post a second or even a third reminder.   
The moderators of the Network have allowed plenty of disrespectful and even slanderous language to be used in causes they do not like.  For example, posts about Im Tirtzu and Ariel University have included questionable assertions and disrespectful language.
The practices of the moderators of the Hebrew University Social Science Network reflect the lack of pluralism in the social sciences in Israel. Voices that do not tow the "party line" are stifled and silenced.  As IAM demonstrated, the social sciences in Israeli universities pay a high price for this state of affair; they trend well below their counterparts in the West and contribute little to academic excellence that Israel needs in the highly competitive global economy. 

(Translated by Google)

Hello to all,

On Monday the 27.05.2013 I sent, inadvertently, a message by Ms. Dana Barnett of the organization "Israel Academia Monitor" which included harsh accusations toward our colleagues. I hereby would like to apologize to our colleagues for not verifying the charges before as I usually do in such cases and apologize for the clearly unjustified distress and damages to them in the wake of this publication that should have not been posted.

I keep asking network members not to send messages that include personal assaults on colleagues. It is not the purpose of our Network. The Network is clearly academic and is intended solely for the purpose of exchange of professional information. Although my job is to monitor the many messages coming in,  I want to make clear, unequivocally, that the responsibility for the content of the messages disseminated is on the sender of the message. In addition, if necessary, and according to my judgment, members who choose to take an offensive tone, not respectful or use slanderous   language will be removed immediately from the Network.

Please respect the Network and its people and especially yourself.

Wishing you a nice weekend and hopefully for more positive discussions,

Dr. Amir Tal

Moderator Social Science Network in Israel

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: amir tal <amir.t.tl@gmail.com>
Date: 2013/5/30
Subject: [SocSci-IL] התנצלות והתראה
To: Social Sciences List <socsci-il@listserver.cc.huji.ac.il>

שלום רב לכולן/ם, 

ביום ב', ה- 27.5.2013 הפצתי, בהיסח הדעת, הודעה של הגברת דנה ברנט מארגון "מוניטור האקדמיה הישראלית" אשר כלל האשמות חריפות כלפי קולגות שלנו. אני מבקש להתנצל בזאת בפני הקולגות על שלא אימתתי מולם את ההאשמות כמקובל במקרים כאלה וכן להתנצל בפניהם על עגמת הנפש הקשה והנזק התדמיתי הבלתי מוצדק בעליל, שנגרם להם בעקבות פרסום זה, שלא צריך היה להתפרסם. 

אני חוזר ומבקש מחברות וחברי הרשת שלא לשלוח הודעות הכוללות פגיעה או תקיפה אישית בקולגות. זאת לא מטרת הרשת. הרשת היא אקדמאית באופן מובהק ומיועדת אך ורק למטרות של חילופי מידע מקצועי. אומנם תפקידי הנו לנטר את ההודעות הרבות המגיעות למערכת אולם אני רוצה להבהיר, באופן חד משמעי, כי האחריות על תוכן ההודעות המופץ היא על שולח ההודעה. בנוסף, במידת הצורך, ולפי שיקול דעתי, חברות וחברים אשר יבחרו לנקוט בנימה פוגענית, לא מכבדת וגובלת בלשון הרע באופן סדרתי, יורחקו לאלתר מן הרשת. 

נא כבדו את הרשת ואנשיה ובעיקר את עצמכם.

בברכת סוף שבוע נעים ובתקווה לדיונים חיוביים יותר, 

ד"ר אמיר טל

מנהל רשת מדעי החברה בישראל


IAM response to the network that was not approved by the moderator:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dana Barnett <barnettdana@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, May 29, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Subject: Final response by IAM to Julia Chaitin Rami Kaplan and Dafna Hirsh
To: social science <socsci-il@listserver.cc.huji.ac.il>

IAM collective final response to Julia Chaitin Rami Kaplan and Dafna Hirsh
IAM is fully transparent and accountable; all the details are provided by the NGO Registrar and are open to the public.  We do not use bylines in posts because our contributors want to avoid harassment. Those who consider this to be an excuse for some nefarious dealings, are directed to read the essay by Ziva Shamir, the former head of the School of Jewish Studies at Tel Aviv University.  Shamir, hardly a wide-eyed lover of Greater Israel, confessed that she penned her essay after retirement so as avoid problems with her radical colleagues and their friends in the liberal media.   Another retired professor, Yochanan Kluger has also written about this issue.  Both articles speak volumes about the state of freedom of speech in liberal arts in Israel.  The latter also affirmed the widely used practice of "friend brings friend" in recruitment and promotion. 
The preference given to scholars who use the neo-Marxist, critical paradigm is not a "conspiracy theory" invented by Professor Seliktar. A more detailed accounting of the practice is included in the report on which her talk was based upon.  Again, those who consider this to be "scare-mongering" should read the comment made by Professor Amnon Rubinstein a few years ago; he pointed out that first, in addition to critical journals and presses, mainstream and prestigious presses opened their doors to the critical community and things got much worse since then. Professor Itamar Rabinovitz was quoted recently by Nathan Gutman to the effect that in humanities and social studies “if you want to get invited to an important conference or to spend a sabbatical in a leading university, you better be politically correct on issues relating to Israel, or else you won’t have a chance.”  IAM named a number of Israeli scholars with a meager publication record with "politically correct views" who were invited to spend their sabbaticals in prestigious Ivy League universities or their British equivalents. 

Actually, things are getting even worse in the sense that being a "good professor" is not enough. IAM has reported on a number of recent cases where Israeli faculty was rebuffed just for being Israelis.  The phenomenon is not limited to liberal arts alone; in a recent post, IAM told the story of Ran Ginosar, an associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Technion who was "disinivited" from serving as a keynote speaker at a scientific conference in Japan because a Tunisian-born member of the steering committee that organized the conference objected to having an Israeli mentioned on their website. Luckily after strong condemnation letters, including by IAM, he was reinvited and an apology was issued. 
This should serve as a chilling reminder to all Israeli scholars; those who seek to delegitmize Israel in the academy would boycott Israelis qua Israelis. 


Rami Kaplan's email to the Network announcing his article about the IAM roundtable:

"I would be grateful for disseminating this link to a short note offering a perspective on the recent attack on academic freedom in Israel, hoping it will add to the discussion on this issue within the Network"
Rami Kaplan

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rami Kaplan <ramikaplan@bezeqint.net>
Date: 2013/5/24
Subject: [SocSci-IL] רשמים ביקורתיים מאירוע מוניטור האקדמיה הישראלית

אודה להפצת הלינק לרשימה קצרה המציעה פרספקטיבה על ההתקפה הנוכחית על החופש האקדמי בישראל, בתקווה שתתרום לדיון בנושא זה ברשת.
רמי קפלן 


This is Rami Kaplan's response to the IAM response (below) to his article.
Translated from Hebrew by Google:

Dear IAM team

As a self-appointed organization which monitors others, it is surprising (and maybe symptomatic) to see your response fraught with curses to an attempt to monitor your public event. Where is your famous commitment to democracy and pluralism when the beam of criticism moves on to you?

As you implicitly admit, my article did not include even one distortion of facts or quotes. You object to my interpretation, as in all interpretation which is selective in its emphasis, as expected and is legitimate. So help yourselves and present a different view, but it should be more respectful to you if you stay calm and stay detached academically without using curses.

On the merits, it is strange to me your claim that I use a Gramscian playbook - I'm not familiar with the concept. In fact, as I wrote, I think you yourself took Gramscian strategy, even if unconsciously. You continue to deny you are a right wing partisan organization - that is your right. Denial in itself is not convincing. You're not the first political organization, from the right and left, which uses the appearance of a-political strategy. Again, invalidating The Pot Calling the Kettle Black. After all, your main practice is labeling (a simplistic and distorted, I'm afraid) academics - and now me as well - as left wing, radicals.

You would have liked me to deal with the claims of Professor Seliktar on the conspiracy theory against Israel and the benefits it holds up for the 'neo-Marxists" scholars from Israel. I would be happy to deal with it, I may even be convinced by the claims if they were presented by empirical references to me. These references    were not presented in the lecture and my appeal to you to get the full research was not answered. Therefore I faced claims that currently have no merits. If there is really such a study ("well documented"), you may want to distribute it and put it to a methodological exam. Other claims, such as that envisioned by the study that "neo-Marxist," "anti-Israel" are pseudo-science and pro-Israeli research is science (with all the difficulties with deciding what is "anti" and what is "pro"), I already said what is on my mind.

Rami Kaplan

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rami Kaplan <ramikaplan@bezeqint.net>
Date: Tue, May 28, 2013 at 10:02 AM
Subject: Re: [SocSci-IL] רשמים ביקורתיים מאירוע מוניטור האקדמיה הישראלית
To: Dana Barnett <barnettdana@gmail.com>
Cc: social science <socsci-il@listserver.cc.huji.ac.il>
צוות מוניטור היקר,

כארגון שמינה את עצמו לנטר אחרים, מפתיעה (ואולי בעצם סימפטומטית) תגובתכם רצופת הגידופים לנסיון לנטר אירוע פומבי שלכם. איפה המחוייבות המפורסמת שלכם לדמוקרטיה ופלורליזם, כאשר אלומת הביקורת עוברת אליכם?    

כפי שאתם מודים במובלע, המאמר שלי לא כלל אפילו סילוף אחד של עובדות קשות או ציטוטים. אתם מתנגדים לפרשנות שלי, שכמו כל פרשנות היא סלקטיבית בדגשים שלה, וזה צפוי ולגיטימי. אז התכבדו והציגו את דעתכם השונה, ויוסיף לכם כבוד אם תשמרו על שלווה וריחוק אקדמי כלשהו ולא תשתמשו בגידופים. 

לגופו של עניין, זרה לי טענתכם שאני משתמש ב- Gramscian playbook  - אני לא מכיר את המושג. למעשה, כפי שכתבתי, אני חושב שאתם בעצמכם לקחתם שיעור באסטרטגיה מגראמשי, גם אם באופן בלתי מודע. אתם ממשיכים להכחיש שאתם ארגון ימין פרטיזני - זו זכותכם. ההכחשה כשלעצמה לא משכנעת. אתם לא הארגון הפוליטי הראשון, מימין ומשמאל, שמשתמש במראית עין של א-פוליטיות כבאסטרטגיה. ושוב, הפוסל במומו פוסל. הרי פרקטיקה מרכזית שלכם היא תיוג (פשטני ומסולף, אני חושש) של אנשי אקדמיה - ועכשיו גם שלי - כשמאלנים-רדיקליים.  

הייתם רוצים שאני אתמודד עם הטענות של פרופ' סליקטר על תיאוריית הקונספירציה נגד ישראל וההטבות שהיא נושאת בחובה עבור מלומדים "ניאו-מרקסיסטים" מישראל. הייתי שמח להתמודד, אולי אפילו הייתי משתכנע מהטענות, אם היו מוצגים להן סימוכים אמפיריים. סימוכים כאלה לא הוצגו בהרצאה ובקשתי מכם לקבל את המאמר המלא לא נענתה. התמודדתי, אם כך, עם טענות שכרגע אין להן בסיס. אם יש באמת מחקר ( "well documented"), אולי כדאי שתפיצו אותו ותעמידו אותו למבחן מתודולוגי. על טענות אחרות, כמו זו שגורסת שמחקר "ניאו-מרקסיסטי" "אנטי ישראלי" הוא פסוודו מדעי ומחקר פרו ישראלי הוא מדעי (עם כל הבעייתיות שלהחליט מהו "אנטי" ומהו "פרו"), כבר אמרתי את דעתי.    

רמי קפלן


This is the IAM post that both Dr. Amir Tal and Dr. Rami Kaplan found to be abusive, unacceptable with foul language that shouldn't have been posted on the Network:

On May 27, 2013, at 10:44 PM, Dana Barnett wrote:

שלום רב,
להלן תגובת צוות מוניטור האקדמיה הישראלית על הרשמים הביקורתיים של רמי קפלן.

Dr. Rami Kaplan's write-up of the roundtable Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective held by IAM on April 28, 2013, is misleading at best and deceitful at worst.  Here is a short response to some of his worst misrepresentation, allegations and "tactical" omissions.
His opening assumption that IAM is a right-wing organization, advocating for Greater Israel under the guise of professional concerns for the social sciences in Israel, guides his coverage of the event. By his own admission, Kaplan cannot find any evidence of such advocacy on the IAM website - not even a reference to Ariel University - it does not prevent him from categorically stating that our organization should be grouped with Im Tirtzu and such.   This is not accidental; like many of his peers on the radical left, Kaplan learned a trick or two from an advanced version of the Gramscian playbook.
Discredit and delegitimize your opponent by using terms such as a right- wing lover of Greater Israel or an Israeli clone of Senator McCarthy.  
Instead of dealing with the substantive charges in Professor Seliktar's study, to wit, that Israeli academy enjoys far greater freedoms than the comparative cases of Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, Kaplan states that IAM uses seemingly objective and professional languages to obscure its deeply ideological (right-wing) position. 
Kaplan misrepresents the findings of the study by referring to what Seliktar described as a Soft Asymmetrical Conflict (SAC) - a multi-pronged campaign that piggybacks on legitimate criticism of Israeli foreign policy to create a highly negative image of Israel - a "conspiracy theory." Once again, the term is useful tool to delegitimize the entire research; it is easier task than explaining the well documented fact that Israeli scholars who adopt the neo-Marxist, critical tradition have a better chance to publish their work, not to mention to spend their Sabbatical leaves in prestigious universities than their positivist oriented peers.  

But it is Kaplan's omission of parts of the roundtable which addressed the corruption and biases involving the Department of Politics and Government at BGU that speak volumes about his true agenda. For instance, Dr. Yaacov Bergman (HUJ) gave a detailed account - based on documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act - of how Professors Avner de-Shalit (HUJ) and Gad Barzilai (Haifa University) used unethical methods in efforts to keep the substandard Department accredited. Dating back to the early 2000s, these efforts allegedly involved subterfuge, deception and outright lying.   Ms. Rachel Abraham, a student in the BGU MAPMES program told the audience about efforts to intimidate and silence her after she had complained about the lack of balance in the class offering; she singled out Professors Oren Yiftachel and Neve Gordon for special criticism.  Mr. Michael Gross, on the Board of Governors of BGU, addressed issues of mismanagement and lack of accountability to both donors and tax payers.

There is a perfectly good explanation why Kaplan omitted this important part of the roundtable; it would have undermined his "narrative" about the alleged McCarthyist goals of the event. This is one more trick of the updated Gramscian playbook; keep the narrative simple and do not let facts interfere with the story line.  

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