Affirmative Action ? the Israeli Edition

It is now official. Last week, the Israeli Council on Higher Education decided to make Jews second class citizens within Israeli universities. Yes, after 1,300 years in which Jews were discriminated against in the Middle East and discrimination in favor of Arabs took place, the semi-governmental Council on Higher Education has decided that Israeli universities must discriminate in favor of Arabs

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OpEds Writing on the wall: Death to Jews
Writing on the wall: Death to Jews
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It is now official. Last week, the Israeli Council on Higher Education decided to make Jews second class citizens within Israeli universities. Yes, after 1,300 years in which Jews were discriminated against in the Middle East and discrimination in favor of Arabs took place, the semi-governmental Council on Higher Education has decided that Israeli universities must discriminate in favor of Arabs and against Jews.

To put this into context, let us note that the decision to discriminate in favor of Arabs and effectively remove all entrance requirements and standards for admissions of Arab students into Israel universities comes as a de facto reward for the radicalization of most (but not all) Arab students at Israeli universities in recent years. The Arab student organizations are, without exception, bastions of Islamist and Arab fascist extremism. Islamist fundamentalists are regularly hosted by them on campus. A group of Arab students at Haifa University, which has the largest Arab student population, recently called openly for the destruction of the country. Arab students at the universities routinely prance about campus with PLO flags and with sweatshirts with the face of Gamal ?Abdel Nasser, the gent that planned to send missiles with poison gas to annihilate the Jews. Rumors have it that some Arab students have held dorm parties to celebrate suicide bombings of Jews. The standard slogan at Arab student rallies, which often turn violent, is "I am a Proud Palestinian," but so far no campus authorities have suggested that these proud Palestinians be transferred to schools in Nablus and Ramallah.

Arab students already enjoy special preferences under the existing system. Unlike Jews, who serve three years in the military thanks to the Arab aggression against Israel supported by most Israeli Arab students, the Arab students generally do not serve their country in any way, with some Druse and Bedouin exceptions. Arabs already get preferences for cheap and scarce dorm rooms, on the grounds that they live further away. The government has long kept tuition at Israeli universities close to zero, in part so that Arabs would not "suffer" when army veterans would get veterans benefits in the form of tuition vouchers. The nearly free tuition amounts to granting Arab students vet benefits without their being inconvenienced by serving their country. In other words, Israel already has a system in place whereby Jews are often treated as second-class citizens.

The problem is that as long as Israeli universities operate their admissions policy on the basis of any measure of scholastic aptitude, achievement or potential, Arabs will be under-represented among the students (as well as among the faculty). This has long upset the Caring Left. That same Caring Left holds hegemony over all Israeli universities. The Council of Higher Education is the Supreme Soviet of the Israeli university system. It is the Ivory Cartel. It is a gang of pirate representatives of the universities who divvy up the loot, the budgets handed over to them without controls by the Knesset and the Finance Ministry. Universities with more political clout have more power on the Council and so get more funds. There are no objective criteria at all in the division of the loot among institutions. Well, ok, the Council says there are such criteria, but that they are just secret!

As part of its mission, the Council has long acted to prevent competition in higher education, to prevent the development of the country's small and under-funded colleges and to prevent overseas institutions from opening in Israel. As an example, overseas institutions are prohibited from offering courses to students in Israel that are not taught in Hebrew (whereas universities may offer such courses) and may not hire Israeli professors to teach in their programs. We are talking about simply operating programs in Israel, not the receipt of any government funds. For years, the Council also prevented the opening of new programs in professions with high demand, like law and business. Its main goal is, apparently, to protect the turfs of the existing universities.

Over the past few months, the current Education Minister, Limor Livnat, has taken on the Ivory Cartel and threatened to restructure it, to restructure university management, to change the funding system and to channel more funds to the non-university colleges. The howls of outrage from the Cartel were deafening. Heaven knows no venom like a special interest scorned. Livnat, from the Likud party, is smart enough to realize that the Universities are bastions of the Left and so ?her people? stand to lose nothing politically by upsetting the ?Tenured Reds?; whereas, the non-university colleges are crawling with non-leftists. In response, the Cartel has been paying for lurid ads in the press with taxpayer money, accusing Livnat of trying to "politicize" higher education. This from the very same people who have maintained intense politicization of the universities for decades.

As part of the Left?s politicization of higher education, Arab professors with empty or near-empty publication records can get hired and promoted, as can Jewish leftist extremists, while anti-leftists are guaranteed to have their careers sabotaged by the leftist campus ruling classes. Nevertheless, the "representativeness" of Arabs among the student population was too small by leftist standards. The universities introduced de facto discrimination in the form of "affirmative action" in favor of Arabs. Still, their numbers were too small, except at Haifa University. Then the Ivory Cartel appointed a committee composed of seven Arab professors and four Jewish professors to study the "problem". You will not be surprised to hear that they did not propose that all Arab students at Israeli universities be required to take a loyalty oath to the State and to denounce PLO terror, nor to perform three years of community service before admission.

The committee made a series of recommendations that effectively amount to allowing Arabs into universities with no admissions standards at all and turning Jewish students into second class students. Arab students would be granted an extra 15 minutes on all university exams, automatically. The college boards or the "psychometric exams" would be done away with, because - strangely - Arab students do worse on them on average than Jews. The admissions criteria for Jews would remain knowledge and aptitude in math and science and English. For Arabs it would be enough that they can read Arabic and they would be given an "entrance exam" on Arab literature or similar material. Arab students would also get automatic preferences in things like dorms and scholarships, meaning that Jewish students would bear an automatic veteran's penalty for having served their country. Arabs would also get preferences in pre-admissions remedial preparatory programs. If you are like me, you expected that the Council would laugh itself silly at these suggestions by this ?Academic Intifada Committee?, especially in the very days when Arab students make a point of letting everyone know how openly they identify with PLO terrorism and atrocities against Jews.

Last week, the Council on Higher Education voted unanimously to approve the recommendations of the ?Academic Intifada Committee?. Let me repeat: Unanimously.
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Dr. Steven Plaut teaches at the Graduate School of Business, University of Haifa, Israel.




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