Im Tirtzu applauds investigation of legal clinics

Im Tirzu CEO Matan Peleg says Higher Education Councils' decision to investigate university legal clinics is historic step forward.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Matan Peleg
Matan Peleg
Ohr Alexinburg

The Israeli Council for Higher Education (CHE) recently adopted a resolution aimed at uncovering the domestic and foreign influences on Israeli universities' legal clinics.

Over the past several years, there have been increased allegations that the legal clinics in Israeli universities maintain a severe political bias, particularly in the direction of anti-Zionism.

A legal clinic (also law clinic or law school clinic) is a law school program providing hands-on legal experience to law school students and services to various clients. Clinics are usually directed by clinical professors.

In 2013, the Im Tirtzu grassroots Zionist student movement published a report highlighting the politicization at Haifa University’s Prisoners' Rights and Rehabilitation Clinic. The report drew attention to the clinic’s heavy involvement with the leftist anti-Zionist NGO, “Adalah,” which receives extensive funding from foreign governments.

The Im Tirtzu report detailed how the clinic specifically focused on providing legal defense for terrorists who murdered Jews, while disregarding thousands of other prisoners who also could have benefited from legal defense.

In a subsequent Knesset meeting that discussed Im Tirtzu’s report, then Minister of Education Shai Piron announced the formation of an international committee of experts that would investigate the activities of the legal clinics.

In June of this year, the CHE published the recommendations of the committee, which stated that “transparency is crucial in the selection process of the clinics' content, especially when determined by external interests outside of the [academic] institutions.”

In addition, the committee stated, “It is preferable to establish the clinics on the budget of [academic] institutions, instead of on grants from external sources.”

In addition, they wrote: “In light of the problematic nature of funding research performed in Hebrew, the CHE requests the PBC [Planning and Budgeting Committee] to examine the question of funding research and publications in the field of law.”

The committee also recommended that, “Cooperation should be increased between the activities of the clinics and the institutions’ faculty and research centers."

The CHE concluded, “In light of the recommendations of the international committee the CHE is in the process of investigating the matter of the clinics.”

The Council for Higher Education adopted virtually all of the conclusions from the Im Tirtzu report.

After learning of the committee’s report, Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg said, “After Im Tirtzu exposed the severe politicization occurring at the legal clinics, we closely followed this issue. We have shown in many discussions how the problem does not begin and end with a few isolated cases, but is widespread."

Peleg continued, “The very establishment of the international committee under then Minister Piron strengthened our claims. The conclusions of the committee, which adopted practically all of our demands, proves beyond all doubt how deep the problem is. Now we can only hope that the conclusions will be implemented and will lead to the removal of foreign elements from Israeli academia.”

“The committee’s conclusions represent a historic correction,” Peleg added. “It will help prevent foreign government-funded organizations from conducting anti-Zionist indoctrination while at the same time working on behalf of foreign political interests. The legal clinics need to work to benefit the citizens of Israel and not those seeking to destroy the state."