A few articles in English.
In Y-net, there’s a piece by Eli Pollack and Mordechai Kedar of Israel Academic Monitor, a site which works to expose Israeli academics it designates ‘radical’. I sympathise with the authors’ outrage at the slants and slogans embraced by some academics, and the eagerness of those academics to sacrifice their colleagues’ international connections. However, their own site is high on names and thin on commentary, presenting events and quotations as if they were de facto evidence of anti-Israel activity. It functions, and backfires, as a kind of blacklist. Moreover, I can’t envisage what their ultimate call for “a committee that would set ethical rules for non-academic activity in order to protect academic freedom against misuse” would look like in my own institution, which actively brands itself radical and recognises many diverse forms of research and research output, including event, social activism or artefact, alongside field work, desk work, paper and book. I think such a committee would be both laughed at and resented, easily roped into some kind of language game. In stable democracies it’s hard enough to laugh and reach cybernetic accommodations; you can only imagine how recent government moves into Israeli academia have been received there in these political times.
Elsewhere, in Haaretz, Tel Aviv University professor of constitutional law, Asher Maoz takes a more sober look at distinctions between freedom of speech and academic freedom:
“A university lecturer calls the naval commandos who raided the Mavi Marmara cold-blooded murderers. Another lecturer refuses to permit a student returning from reserve duty to enter the classroom in uniform. A third tells his students that he does not believe reserve duty in the territories justifies absence from class – but he is prepared to excuse the absence of students who attend a protest at a checkpoint.
Yet another lecturer calls for a boycott of Israel because of the occupation. His colleague calls for an academic boycott of Israeli universities, including the one that employs him. Another lecturer’s students claim he silences them when they disagree with him.
Or the details could be changed: Perhaps one lecturer calls soldiers who evacuate settlers “Nazis.” Another forbids a Muslim student from entering the classroom because she is wearing a veil. A third gives no special consideration to a student called up for reserve duty to evacuate a settlement outpost, but does so for a student who is absent because he went to help thwart an evacuation. And a fourth calls for a boycott on Israel or its universities because the “treasonous” government is prepared to give up parts of the homeland.”
This interesting as-a-Jew piece in Ynet by Sarah Reef (not an Israeli academic) is worth linking to again.