A tumultuous meeting discussing the academic freedom in higher education institutes was held at the Knesset's Education, Culture, and Sports Committee on Tuesday, arguing that administration in these institutes excluded lecturers who dare to think differently and support Zionistic standpoints.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud), participated in the discussion and said that the Council for Higher Education, of which he is the chairmen of, intends to publish a code of basic principles regarding academic freedom.
"These institutes must look into any claim regarding academic freedom." said Sa'ar. "Public discussion is legitimate and any attempt to silence it isn't democratic."
In response to a letter written by Im Tirtzu movement (centrist extra-parliamentary movement that strives to strengthen the values of Zionism) sent to the president of Ben-Gurion University, Sa'ar warned against damages done to academic institutes and added that "we must beware of hindering donations given to these institutes."
Spokesman and Founder of Im Tirtzu Erez Tadmor spoke out during the meeting saying "this is battle for academic freedom, seeing as how there isn't any today, and anyone trying to shut us up is the one trying to prevent academic freedom."
One of the participants in the meeting was ordered to leave by Committee Chairmen MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), after interrupting other participants. A loud exchange of words was also noted between Orlev and Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron.
Adi Arbel, of the Institute for Zionist Strategies, argued that there was an academic diversion towards post-Zionistic views, but no representation of opposing stances. "We examined research centers working under academic institutes and discovered five of them support post-Zionistic agendas. Looking at the representation of different subjects in panels and conferences, we examined each subject according to the methodology presented to us. We found these panels to be very unbalanced."
Arbel claims that 'Zionistic' lecturers are not appointed positions in the academy. "We have a number of examples of well known people, even in the media, who were not hired or promoted due to their points of view. For example, the Political Science Professor Abraham Diskin of Hebrew University in Jerusalem who for some reason or another was not appointed a regular faculty member."
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