dinsdag 25 september 2012

Political science department Ben Gurion University threatened with closure

Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, the department for politics and government is considered to be too leftist and is threatened with closure.

Journalist Noam Sheizaf describes on the blog +972  how for the first time in the history of Israel there is a real threat to academic freedom, something that hitherto was unthinkable:

A major political battle is taking place this autumn within Israeli academia: the Israeli Council for Higher Education (CHE), a government-appointed body charged with the supervision and financing of universities and colleges in Israel, is attempting to shut down the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University (BGU). In recent years, the Department of Politics and Governments has been labeled by right-wing organizations as “the most leftist in Israel,” and leading academics have been subject to boycott call and demands not to renew their contracts. Yet, never before has the fate of the entire department been threatened.

 Earlier this month, a sub-committee for quality control, which was appointed by the Israeli Council for Higher Education, recommended that the Department of Politics and Government at BGU be prevented from registering new students in the coming academic year, due to the failure to implement a report regarding “professional failures” in the department, issued last year. The recommendation, which effectively means closing down the department, will be voted on by the CHE on October 23rd.

The Ariel University Center campus.
At the one hand a 'leftist' faculty is theatened and at the other a rightist one is going to be promoted.  The Israeli government voted on 9 September to upgrade the Ariel College (already named úniversity center) to the status of university. The decision is not yet effective. It has yet to be approved by the High Court of Justice and the attorney general. 

Sheizaf points out that 'a few years back, right-wing organizations began campaigning against “leftist” professors and academics. Three organizations – Im Tirzu, Academia Monitor and Isra-Campus – came up with a list of 1,000 faculty members suspected of left-wing bias or “anti-Zionism.' One of
Im Tirzu’s prominent supporters, he says,  is Education Minister Gidon Sa’ar (Likud). During his time in office, Sa’ar attended the Im Tirzu 2010 national convention, in which he promised “to act against professors who call for an academic boycott on Israel.” 

Click here for Sheizaf's article.

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