Comprehensive coverage

The heads of Israeli universities: the "silence law" proposal will play into the hands of BDS

In the letter addressed to the members of the Knesset before the vote, the members of the RA write: The decision to continue promoting the law could not have been made at a more unfortunate time." They also claim in a letter to the members of the Knesset who are about to vote on a bill on the subject that it is a draconian bill that only exists in countries like Hungary

The heads of research universities are troubled by a law that requires them to immediately fire lecturers who have expressed support for the Palestinians, even if they say inaccurate things about what is happening in Gaza and deny the crimes of Hamas on October 7, without a hearing and without dismissal. They claim a violation of academic freedom, that the bill is a continuation of the coup d'état, and also as mentioned on the practical side, not to play into the hands of the BDS.

As is well known, the seven main research universities in Israel are among the 500 best universities in the world, and some are even among the first hundred.

Yesterday the members of the VERA (Committee of Heads of VERA Research Universities) issued a letter to the members of the Knesset, in preparation for bringing MK Ofir Katz's proposal up for debate, despite their opposition and despite the position of the Ministry of Justice's Advisory and Legislation Department.

"In the hearing of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation that took place today, 7.7.24, the government decided to transfer the authority to promote the bill that allows faculty members to be fired without severance pay due to statements that will be interpreted by politicians as "incitement", hereinafter, the "silencing law", to the coalition, It is headed by MK Ofir Katz (Likud), who is also the initiator of the bill. This, despite the position of the consulting and legislation department at the Ministry of Justice, which maintains that the bill should be opposed and that "precisely within the walls of the academy an especially wide freedom of expression should be allowed, since at the heart of the academy's occupation is the expression of ideas, the presentation of criticism and intellectual development. Creating a chilling effect between the walls of the academy intensifies the damage to freedom of expression and even harms academic freedom, therefore there is no justification to set a strict threshold for dismissal for statements in the academy. It is proposed to oppose the bill, it does not meet constitutional standards.'

"The decision to continue promoting the law could not have been made at a more unfortunate time. This is at a time when the universities in Israel are struggling against a tsunami wave of academic boycotts of Israeli lecturers and institutions, and excommunications from academic institutions around the world. This is to the point of real concern for Israel's complete isolation from the international scientific community. "

The heads of the universities also write: "The purpose of the "silencing" law is clear and it is one: to paint the academy as a body disloyal to the state, to persecute scientists, researchers and lecturers with the aim of silencing them, and to increase the universities' dependence on the political entity, the Minister of Education who is also the chairman of the Legislative Council, who is responsible, among other things, for their budgeting."

"This law joins the "law of intimidation" promoted by MK Limor Son Har Melech (Otzma Yehudit), whose goal is the same and aimed both at expelling students and dismantling student political cells - a law that will be discussed this week on Tuesday in the Knesset's education committee."

"It will be clarified and emphasized beyond any doubt that we, the heads of research universities in Israel, support the existing laws against supporting terrorism or inciting terrorism, laws that apply to all citizens of the State of Israel regardless of occupation. We are firmly opposed to any incitement or support for terrorism, and certainly we will not give a hand to the exploitation of academic freedom for this purpose."

"The legal authority to act against instigators or those who express support for terrorism, all over Israel including the universities, belongs to the Israel Police and the Shin Bet, and they have all the legal authority to act against lecturers or any other person in the country."

"The attempt to drag the universities into this enforcement role, with a lower standard of proof than that required by the existing law, aims to paint the academy as a body that supports terrorism, as an anti-Zionist body, even though the real reality, especially after 7.10. - It is completely the opposite, thereby weakening the academy and turning it into a political tool. Moreover, the law gives full authority to politicians to decide what constitutes incitement on campuses, instead of to the Israel Police and the courts, thus effectively controlling without Egypt, both the freedom of expression of faculty members and students and the budget of the institutions."

"This is actually the same regime coup from before 7.10/XNUMX, which is coming through the back door to the academy - as we were already promised. What good is the academy if we can't control it."

Apart from that, and not on the sidelines, the silencing bill violates the accepted labor laws in Israel in an unprecedented way. For the first time it will be possible to fire an employee without severance pay, a precedent that does not appear anywhere else in the law book of the State of Israel. A punishment that is not applied even to criminal criminals.

"Beyond that, it is very important to emphasize that in the current reality, these proposals play directly into the hands of those who call for an academic boycott of Israel. Weakening the independence of the universities and handing them over to politicians, strengthens the arguments of those who seek to ostracize us from the international academic community - literally giving a valuable reward to the BDS organizations, and the enemies of Israel. These laws bring us closer to Hungary, and distance us from Western Europe and North America."

"We call on the Minister of Education, the Chairman of the Education Committee and all members of the Knesset - it is not too late to stop the legislative process. Get involved, vote against and please prevent an unprecedented and irreversible damage to the Israeli academy! We intend to use all the legal tools at our disposal to stop these bills."

More of the topic in Hayadan:

One response

  1. "For at the heart of the academy's occupation is the expression of ideas, the presentation of criticism and intellectual development."
    It should of course be noted, we are in favor of all this as long as it corresponds to our opinion

Leave a Reply

Email will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismat to prevent spam messages. Click here to learn how your response data is processed.