Israeli Proposal Would Bar Political Views in Class

June 12, 2017

Academic leaders in Israel are objecting to a proposed ethical code that would prohibit professors from expressing political opinions in the classroom. The proposed code also would forbid professors from supporting the academic boycott of Israel, bar collaborations with politically affiliated organizations and require universities to establish units charged with monitoring political activity and enforcing the code.

Multiple Israeli media outlets, including Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel and YNET, reported on the proposed code. It was written by Asa Kasher, a professor of ethics and philosophy at Tel Aviv University, and commissioned by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who plans to bring it to Israel's Council for Higher Education for approval.

“Absolute academic freedom -- yes," Bennett said in a statement quoted by The Times of Israel. "Advancing a political agenda by an academic lecturer -- no. It’s unacceptable that students are afraid to express their opinions in class due to fear for their grades, or that lecturers call for a boycott of the institution where they teach.”

The Committee of University Heads in Israel "vehemently" objects to the proposed code as a violation of academic freedom. "The ethical code, proposed by Professor Asa Kasher, undermines institutes of higher education's freedom to decide their own codes of conduct for their academic staffs, and thus infringes on academic freedom in the most serious and fundamental way," the group is quoted as saying by Haaretz.

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