Zionism has come to refer not to the many ways of building Israel, but to a litmus test. Any answer other than ‘I am a Zionist,’ is akin to being un-American in the 1950s. I didn’t join a Labor Zionist youth movement at 14 because I thought of myself as a Zionist. Actually I shied away from group identities, bouncing among social cliques at school and staying away from team sports. My parents just didn’t know what to do with me one summer and they heard about a nice Jewish camp, not too expensive. The Habonim-Dror camp turned out to…Read More... | 16 Comments
Ben Gurion University
Israeli viewers are currently under attack - not only by rockets, but by a legion of serious, gruff, tough, men's-man manly commentators manning the studios and explaining why the war makes sense to any reasonable… man. A text by Idan Landau. "And once again the screen is awash with men, battalions, battalions of men, swarms of men; commander men and commentator men, calming men and threatening men, men with a rich past in positions of command, men with greying temples, men with a rich past in position of command and greying temples, Ashkenazi men and Mizrahi men, men who…Read More... | 13 Comments
The crackdown on Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Politics and Government may seem unprecedented, but a closer look reveals an ongoing campaign to challenge academic freedom in the university and beyond. By B.N.* While the attacks on the Department of Politics and Government of Ben-Gurion University are being viewed by many as an unprecedented measure, infringements of academic freedom in Israeli-controlled areas are common. They are often part of the regime of military occupation in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. Today, such infringements in the occupied territories include limitations on students’ and faculty’s access to academic institutions through checkpoints and…Read More... | 14 Comments
By Todd Gitlin Why should Americans care about political interference in the universities of a far-off country? Because the far-off country is Israel, one of our closest allies, a nation that features intimately in our own political life; and because Israel’s domestic affairs have a way of morphing into subjects of America’s never-ending culture wars. So it is of considerable importance that as Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu turns up the volume on claims that Israel is at risk from barbarians, his government persists in illicitly expanding its powers and eroding liberties. In July, Israeli universities were shaken when a…Read More... | 8 Comments
In an unprecedented move, the Council for Higher Education will vote on shutting down the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University, which has been the target of right-wing propaganda for the last several years. 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…Read More... | 29 Comments
By Issa Edward Boursheh Let me start by making a few essential points: I believe that academic work should not be politically influenced, pressured or manipulated, and any argument that is discussed in class must be supported by methods, terms, tools and criticism that fit the world of research methods. I am against professors promoting their political agenda in class, based on emotions or so-called facts, which are not supported scientifically. Having said that, I think it’s the role of students to bring politics into universities and campuses by any legitimate means necessary. The main demand of the Free Speech…Read More... | 4 Comments
Last week, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth broke a story about a draft report by an evaluation committee commissioned by Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE), recommending closing the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University if changes are not made, including to the perceived political leaning of the department. The department has been the target of a campaign by the radical rightwing movement Im Tirzu for its "lefty" political leaning. Despite pleas from dozens of academics that protested this attempt to supervise the political opinions raised in classrooms, the Council for Higher Education voted to adopt the…Read More... | 11 Comments
Last week, Yediot Ahronot broke a story about a draft report by an evaluation committee of Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE), recommending closing the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University if changes are not made, including to the perceived political leaning of the department. I have obtained a copy of the draft report. Below is a selection of what I view as the key excerpts and some comments about them. All emphases are mine. I am proud to repeat my disclosure as a member of this department, where I teach as an adjunct lecturer. In a…Read More... | 6 Comments
Read excerpts from the report obtained by +972 Magazine. The leaked report of a committee appointed by Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE), assessing Ben Gurion University’s Department of Politics and Government, is an anomaly compared to other reports, if not an outright, government-sponsored politicized mission against an academic department that has no precedent. I repeat my full disclosure that I teach as an adjunct lecturer at this department. Although the process of evaluation is an established routine (which I explain below), this report must be seen in a dire context of academic persecution that has been led largely by two…Read More... | 10 Comments
Topping off a lengthy, politically-motivated assault on the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University, a new study now reportedly recommends closing the department altogether. According to Yediot Ahronot, an international committee established by Israel’s Council for Higher Education has pointed out a series of professional, academic weaknesses of the department, examining the number of publications, the prestige of the publishers of those publications, the range of courses and programs and the number of lecturers. But the headline of Yediot’s story is the report’s finding that the political bias of the department warrants special concern. According to Yediot:…Read More... | 62 Comments
An Israeli academic speaks out in defense of another, Professor Idan Landau, whose pay was docked by Ben Gurion University after he refused to do IDF reserve duty in the West Bank By Jerry Haber Some of my loyal readers have noticed that I have not blogged for a long time, almost a month. I should explain. I am now the Director of one of the largest university Jewish Studies programs in the country, and I have no time for anything "extra-curricular" as I learn how to do my job in the best manner possible. I am also working in…Read More... | 19 Comments
It has been a troubled year for Israeli academia. The rising nationalist sentiment in the government, legislature and civil society has spilled over into bitter struggles on campuses throughout the country. Nationalist groups such as IsraCampus, Israel Academia Monitor, and the ultra-nationalist Im Tirtzu have set their crosshairs on academia, seeking the dismissal of faculty members and control over curricula, and urging foreign donors to withdraw funds unless the faculty they have targeted are removed. They have published blacklists and ranked each university and department according to political legitimacy. Much of the fire has been directed at Ben Gurion University…Read More... | 22 Comments
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