'We'll drive away donors if you don't end anti-Zionist bias'
Right-wing movement Im Tirtzu sends letter to Ben-Gurion University president threatening to drive away donors, students should it not change its study program, add right-wingers to its staff. 'Demand reminiscent of McCarthyism,' university says in response
The Im Tirtzu Zionist movement is threatening to deter philanthropists from donating to the Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba if it doesn't change its "anti-Zionist bias in the Politics and Government Department."
The movement sent a letter to University President Prof. Rebecca Carmi threatening to ask donors to deposit their funds to a trust fund managed by a lawyer should the university fail to meet their demands within 30 days, and replace some of the staff and change the study program.
Im Tirtzu claims that the university employs more leftists that rightists in its academic staff. According to the activists, President Carmi allowed "the academic dictatorship to gain control of academic freedom and considerably limit intellectual pluralism."
Im Tirtzu director Ronen Shoval and Erez Tadmor, head of the movement's policy and PR department presented data from a report the movement issued which found a "post-Zionist bias" in the political science faculties in various Israeli universities.
According to the report, nine out of 11 academic staff members in the Ben-Gurion Politics and Government Department are involved in political activity which champions "radical Left" agendas. It is stated that three out of 6 doctoral candidates signed a petition supporting Dr. Neve Gordon who called for a boycott of Israel. "We implore you to put and end of the anti-Zionist bias and the exclusion of Zionist students and researchers from the department."
The Zionist movement also threatened to urge students to leave the university. "We shall employ all legal means at our disposal to bring this information to the attention of current and future students as well as elements supporting the university in Israel and aboard," it was stated.
"We want them to take the report seriously, check the claims and stop burying their heads in the sand thinking all is permitted to them," Tadmor told Ynet. "Their dismissive attitude attests to the severity of the problem. I don't want them to fire lecturers. I find it unreasonable that 90% of the senior staff are radical left-wingers just as it is unreasonable for a workplace to have a complete majority of men. It's obvious there is discrimination."
'Feels like McCarthyism'
The Ben-Gurion University stated in response: "The university is not in a habit of holding periodical examinations of its staff members' political positions. Such a demand and a demand to "balance" the staff members' political views is extremely reminiscent of McCarthyism and goes against the democratic principles on which the State of Israel was founded. Can it be conceived that a university or any other institution fire or hire employees on the basis of their political opinions?"
The university's statement noted that the institution it is subject to the Higher Education Council's inspection system in reference to its academic study program. "The movement's members represent a radical political perspective and are trying to demonize anyone whose views they don't agree with."
"Just as University President Prof. Rebecca Carmi strongly denounced elements who called for a boycott of Israel, the university condemns any element calling for a boycott of Israeli universities for one of its staff members' political opinion," it was stated.
The University Heads Committee said in response: "No university in Israel should have to prove its staff's love of the country, certainly not to a political movement which tries to present a manipulative paper as 'research' in an effort to promote itself."
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook