To: Members of the Council for Higher Education (CHE)
Re: Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University
Academic freedom is the cornerstone of academic activity and the foundation on which academic institutions are built. Without this freedom, there is no justification for academia’s existence. One expression of this freedom is the use of different and diverse research methods, including “qualitative” methods. The primary role of the CHE is to safeguard this freedom at all costs and to create an appropriate environment for academics so that they can think, explore, and put forward tough questions, as well as raise the next generation of researchers.
We cannot understand how this basic principle has been overlooked by one of the CHE’s institutions (the Subcommittee for Quality Assurance), which is meant to act as a defender of academic activity in the face of the heavy hand of government. We adopt without reservation the remarks of Chairperson of the Committee of University Heads in Israel and President of Ben Gurion University, Professor Rivka Carmi, who has fearlessly and impartially determined that this is “a decision…that is extremely severe; there is no connection between the decision and the opinions of the members of the professional steering committee.”
We, the Chairpersons of the Israeli Anthropological Association, past and present, protest against the puzzling actions of the Subcommittee for Quality Assurance regarding the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University and call upon the CHE to reject its recommendations, which undermine academic freedom, and the central role of the Council.
Prof. Moshe Shokeid, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Harvey Goldberg, Hebrew University
Prof. Yoram Bilu, Hebrew University
Prof. Eyal Ben-Ari, Hebrew University
Prof. Henry Abramovitch, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Meira Weiss, Hebrew University
Dr. Andre Levy, Ben Gurion University
Dr. Orit Abuhav, Beit Berl
Prof. Nurit Bird-David, University of Haifa
Dr. Efrat Ben-Ze’ev, Ruppin Academic Center