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Catch-22 for Israeli Academics

January 7, 2005

European scholars are pushing boycotts of Israeli colleges and academics as a way of registering opposition to the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinians. The irony of course is that higher education is a segment of Israeli society that has been particularly critical of Israel's leaders on the very issue.

Now a new Web site has come along, published by supporters of Israel, criticizing Israeli academics for being too critical of their government.

The new Web site, Israel Academia Monitor, looks a lot like Campus Watch, which was founded in 2002 with a focus on professors at American colleges. Both Web sites publish critiques of professors who have been critical of Israel.

The Israeli site says that it is defending academic freedom. Israeli universities, it says, "have been politicized, with hiring and promotion decisions subordinated to political bias, often by tenured radicals with embarrassing academic records and dubious research credentials."

It's no surprise that those being attacked on the Web site see things differently. Neve Gordon, who teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, calls the site "a pathetic attempt" to copy Campus Watch. In an article in Dissident Voice, Gordon writes that "an innocent reader" of the site might well think that "Hamas terrorist cells led by rogue professors are currently operating within Israeli universities, preparing students for the Jihad."

Gordon, currently a visiting scholar at Berkeley, adds that this is more than a "tasteless joke," however. "The goal, it seems, is to influence hiring and tenure decisions in order to purge Israeli universities of those who dare question the state, or, at least, silence them."

 

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