Prof. Ruth Gavison
Prof. Ruth Gavison Israel news photo: Flash 90

Some of Israel's leading academic figures who identify themselves as protectors of democracy have revealed their intolerant side in an email exchange regarding Ariel University Center, which is poised to be recognized as Israel's eighth university.

In a new webzine called Mida, Akiva Bigman quotes from an e-mail message board that serves Israeli lecturers on social sciences.

Prof. Emanuel Sivan of Hebrew University wrote thus to his colleagues: "We can use our international connections to prevent publications by researchers from Ariel. We simply need to avoid discussing their proposals for research and publication, especially in the periodicals where we serve as members… In addition we should not present papers, not take part in conferences and not give lectures together with lecturers from that supposed university."

Sivan added that it is possible to avoid "accepting their researchers to post-doctorates programs, research scholarships and visits as guest lecturers in universities in Israel and abroad."

Apparently aware of the illegality of his call, Sivan adds that "all of the above is, of course, is up to the personal decision of each and every one of us."

The widely admired Prof. Ruth Gavison writes that the struggle against Ariel's recognition should be taken to the High Court – as it subsequently was – and explains: "What we are witnessing now is the culmination of a long five-year process, that there was no organized protest against. Maybe we hoped, then, that history is moving in a direction opposed to the Occupation. Now it appears that history is going in the opposite direction."

Prof. Chaim Ganz suggests drastic measures: "Stopping our work at the universities for at least one day in the course of the first or second week of studies while holding protests and informational gatherings, seems to me to be a minimum. We can also think about stopping studies for one day a week in each of the first six weeks. As a minimum."

Prof. David Levy-Faur of Hebrew University encourages his colleagues to take heart: "Do not despair. We gave back Sinai, we left Gaza, we will solve the problem of the other territories as well… but unfortunately it will cost another war or two. We are in the midst of a change in the tactics of the struggle. From a civil protest that characterized our actions since 1967, to civil resistance. The goal should be to bring all of the settlers home by the fiftieth year of the occupation, 2017."

Prof. Menachem Hofnung suggests that everyone resort to calling the institution at Ariel a "college" even if "the government" decides to approve it as a university.

Prof. Alon Harel of Hebrew U. suggests that Ariel's academicians and degrees be treated as those of "a foreign country."

Dr. Julia Chaitin of Sapir College suggested that Ariel U. be made to accept lecturers and students from the Palestinian Authority (PA). She may have been unaware, writes Bigman, that it was the PA that jailed several lecturers who participated in a conference at Ariel several months ago.

Chaitin has another creative idea: Lecturers who leave Ariel will be rewarded with two articles in his name for his CV, and anyone who persuades another lecturer to leave will receive three such articles for his CV.

"If this is the behavior of the men of science who are in charge of promoting tolerance and education in the general public," sums up Bigman, "Ariel is the least of our problems. The big problem lies within the other five universities."