Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University iStock

Israel's universities are attempting to thwart a new ethical code that was approved by Israel's Council of Higher Education under Education Minister Naphtali Bennett and which had been hotly opposed by the universities due to its prohibiting lecturers from voicing political opinions during classes.

The inter-university senate, a union representing academics, has now drawn up a new code which would grant each university autonomy to draft its own ethical code.

"The content of this proposal is to make it impossible for the Council of Higher Education to impose an ethical code. Each university will be able to establish a code of ethics according to its own Senate" said Professor Nadav Davidovitch, who heads Ben Gurion University's Health Managment studies program.

"The committee has drawn up a proposal that takes principles from US universities that are agreed upon by everyone. On one hand we support academic freedom and on the other hand, no one should be discriminated against based on their political views."

The new and approved ethical code, which was written by Israel Prize Laureate, Philosophy Professor Asa Kasher, who also wrote the IDF Code of Ethics and has defended Israel's Law of Return as a form of affirmative action, will be adopted by all of Israel's institutions of higher learning and is to take effect in 2019.

There have been many complaints that the humanities departments in Israel's universities skew to the left, but academics have charged that the new ethical code is designed to censor them from promulgating their worldview and infringe on their academic freedom. Supporters of the move say that many students with right-wing views find themselves intimidated by their teachers.

"The proposed ethical code formulated by Professor Asa Kasher removes the academic institutes' freedom to lay down the rules for behavior and conduct by members of the academic staff," said a statement by the Association of University Heads after it was adopted last week.

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