Opposition to the Proposed Closure of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University, Israel
The European Association of Israel Studies (EAIS) represents academics from all parts of Europe – from Siberia to Iberia.
We, the Executive Committee of the EAIS,regard the attempt to close down the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University as an attack on academic freedom which manifests an inability to tolerate a different point of view.
In Europe there have been attempts, both overt and covert, over the years to ban events at universities which posed a different view of the Israel-Palestine conflict. This was often accompanied by a whispering campaign to close down departments of Israel studies and to prevent the expansion of the discipline at European institutions of higher education.
It did not succeed because many academics defended freedom of expression and more pertinently students attended lectures in large numbers. They are thinking people and can make up their own minds. The recommendation to close the department presumes the very opposite.
The Executive Committee of the European Association of Israel Studies is therefore greatly saddened at this attempt to politicise the classroom. Yet this belief in academic freedom is cherished internationally in all democratic countries. The founders of Israel strongly endorsed this approach and bequeathed it to future generations of Israeli scholars to uphold.
We call on the Israeli Council of Higher Education to reject any suggestion of stopping student registration for the academic year 2013-2014, and to permit the Department to continue to educate Israeli students as it has in the past.
Professor Colin Shindler
On behalf of the Executive Committee
European Association of Israel Studies