MKs Feud over Ben Gurion U's Leftism
The Knesset's Education Committee witnessed an exchange of verbal fire Wednesday between nationalists and leftists, as it discussed a report criticizing Ben Gurion University's Political Science and International Relations departments, known as bastions of radical leftism.
The report was commissioned by the Israeli Council for Higher Education (ICHE), and drawn up by a committee chaired by Thomas Risse, a professor at the Otto Surh Institute for Political Science at the Free University of Berlin. The committee recommended improvements in political science and international relations departments throughout Israel's colleges and universities, but its most critical comments were directed at Ben-Gurion U.
The committee recommended instituting "major changes" toward strengthening the department's disciplinary and methodological core through both hiring more faculty and altering its study programs. "If these changes are nevertheless not implemented," the report concluded, "the majority of the committee believes that, as a last resort, Ben-Gurion University should consider closing the Department of Politics and Government."
MK Alex Miller called for financial sanctions to be used against institutes that ignore the ICHE's recommendations.
"After the laws for intimidating and silencing the media, the courts and the social NGOs, it is academia's turn to be burned at the stake."
National Union Chairman MK Yaakov Katz said that if Ben Gurion University continues to do as it pleases and ignores the committee's recommendations, it will have no Jewish students left on campus. He turned to MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am Ta'al) and told him – "We are the only democratic country in the region. In another country, if you spoke as you just spoke, your head would be chopped off."