Prof. Robert Paxton to the CHE: I have never known of so severe a punishment for an academic department in a free country

Dear Members of the Israeli Council of Higher Education

I have learned with deep concern of the Council’s decision not to allow students to enroll in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev for the academic year 2013-2014. In a forty year academic career I have never known of so severe a punishment for an academic department in a university in a free country.

My knowledge of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is based upon personal acquaintance. I know that members of this department enjoy the very highest scholarly reputation in Europe and the United States. I believe that the department has made a conscientious effort to respond constructively to suggestions for improvement. It is difficult to avoid the impression that the department is being punished for the political opinions of some of its members. This decision makes the most deplorable impression among outside observers.

Sincerely yours,

Robert O. Paxton

Mellon Professor Emeritus of the Social Sciences, Columbia University

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