Academic freedom

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Academic Freedom: For whom?
The meaning of “academic freedom” is fairly obvious. It is something that is associated with democratic societies, and it is universally held in high esteem, even though its boundaries and limits are often unclear. Basically, where there is freedom to teach, study and carry out research in academic institutions, and to publish research-related books and articles, then academic freedom exists.
It is clear that there can be no real academic freedom in higher education unless it is possible to reach the institutions where one studies, teaches, and carries out research. Academics within the State of Israel are able to do this, but those working in the higher education institutions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are not. There, checkpoints, blockades, walls and fences prevent thousands of students and teachers from leading a normal academic life, and lecturers with non-Palestinian passports, who wish to teach in those institutions, are prevented from staying for long enough to carry out meaningful continuous teaching.
The academic community of the State of Israel, which rightly demands academic freedom for its members both inside Israel and within the international academic community, has generally disregarded the demand for a similar freedom for Palestinian academics in the Occupied Territories for which the State of Israel is responsible. Because of this, and in view of the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Territories during the last couple of years, we approached all the senior faculty members in the major higher education and scientific research institutions in Israel: Bar Ilan University, Ben Gurion University, Haifa University, The Hebrew University, The Open University, the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), Tel Aviv University, and the Weizmann Institute for Science. We sent them the following letter and petition:
Dear colleagues:

As academics and citizens of the State of Israel, whatever our political opinions may be, we see ourselves as having a duty to fight for the academic freedom of our Palestinian colleagues. We call upon the Government of Israel to honour and implement the right of freedom of movement, academic study and instruction in the State of Israel and the territories controlled by it. Academic freedom is not divisible and cannot be selective. The State of Israel and we its citizens are directly responsible for upholding that freedom.

We call upon you to actively accept that responsibility and to add your support to the attached petition, which is being distributed among all senior staff members in all institutions of higher education in Israel. After the signatures have been gathered, we intend to seek the support of the Committee of University Presidents and members of the Israeli Academy of Science, and to submit the petition to the following government ministries: Defence, Education, Science, Foreign Affairs, and the Interior.


 The initiators of the petition:

Prof. Menachem Fisch, Tel-Aviv University

Prof. Raphael Falk, The Hebrew University

Prof. Eva Jablonka, Tel-Aviv University

Dr. Snait Gissis, Tel-Aviv University

Text of the petition

We, past and present members of academic staff of Israeli universities, express great concern regarding the ongoing deterioration of the system of higher education in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We protest against the policy of our government which is causing restrictions of freedom of movement, study and instruction, and we call upon the government to allow students and lecturers free access to all the campuses in the Territories, and to allow lecturers and students who hold foreign passports to teach and study without being threatened with withdrawal of residence visas. To leave the situation as it is will cause serious harm to freedom of movement, study and instruction – harm to the foundation of academic freedom, to which we are committed.

We sent about 9000 emails, of which around 5000 were to senior faculty and the rest to emeriti and junior faculty at some of the institutions. These numbers should be reduced by about 5% to allow for the emails that were returned. In order not to misuse the internal all-university lists, all email addresses were manually downloaded from the open-to-the-public sites of university departments. A total of 407 people, 403 of whom are mostly active senior faculty, (but also include emeriti and junior staff) from the above institutions, as well as 4 signatures from senior faculty of Colleges who became aware of our petition, responded to our call and signed the petition. It is our intention to publicize the list of signatories on the web.

The number of signatories from each university is as follows:

Bar Ilan University 10

Ben Gurion University 77

Haifa University 20

Hebrew University 110

Open University 7

Technion 14

Tel Aviv University 155

Weizmann Institute of Science 10

Sapir College 2

Oranim 1

Bezalel 1

We received a number of letters objecting to our call: some of the authors sent reasoned responses, arguing their case against our petition; others chose to send insulting hate mail.

At the Weitzman Institute of Science, one of the heads of the departments sent a letter via the Academic Affairs Office to all the senior faculty of that institute. In it, he warned the faculty of the danger lurking in our call, basing his argument on very inaccurate rumours about the political stance of the initiators of the petition.

In March 2008 we wrote to the Committee of University Presidents and to the Directorial Board of the Israeli Academy of Science asking them to support our petition. So far, the only answer received has been that our request would be considered.

We are well aware that only rarely do petitions cause a change in a political state of affairs. However, we do not doubt that when there are enough people in the Israeli academic community who are prepared to voice their objection to the conditions under which their colleagues in Palestinian higher education institutions have to work, and do all they can to ensure that their Palestinian counterparts have the same academic freedom that they enjoy, we shall all benefit – Israeli and Palestinian academics alike.

Prof. Menachem Fisch, Tel-Aviv University

Prof. Raphael Falk, The Hebrew University

Prof. Eva Jablonka, Tel-Aviv University

Dr. Snait Gissis, Tel-Aviv University

List of Signatories
Dr. Aref Abu-Rabia BGU

Dr. Tabat Abu Ras BGU

Prof. Zach Adam HUJI

Prof. Hanna Adoni HUJI

Dr. Riad Agrabia BGU

Prof. Ron Aharoni Technion

Dr. Iris Agmon BGU

Prof. Joseph Agassi TAU

Prof. Amotz Agnin HUJI

Prof. Ofer Aharoni  Weizmann

Prof. Niv Ahituv TAU

Prof. Gadi Algazi TAU

Dr. Karen Alkalay Gut TAU

Dr. Yoav Alon TAU

Prof. Ehud Altman Weizmann

Dr. Tammy Amiel – Hauser TAU

Dr. Eleanor Amit TAU

Prof. Gannit Ankori HU

Prof. Yonathan Anson BGU

Dr. Ruth Arav OPU

Prof. Mira Ariel TAU

Dr. Amos Arieli Weizmann

Prof. Boaz Arpaly TAU

Dr. Ruth Ashery-Padan TAU

Dr. Nurit Ashkenasy BGU

Dr. Daniel Attas HUJ

Prof. Judy Auerbach BGU

Dr. Michal Aviad TAU

Dr. Yoram Ayal BGU

Dr. Prof. Amir Ayali TAU

Dr. Ariela Azoulay BIU

Prof. Roi Baer HUJI

Prof. Shalom Baer HUJI

Dr. Amir Banbaji BGU

Prof. Gad Baneth HUJI

Prof. Ilan Bank TAU

Prof. Maya Bar-Hillel HUJI

Prof. Eitan Bar Yosef BGU

Dr. Oren Barak HUJI

Prof. Isaac Barash, TAU

Prof. Ron Barkai TAU

Prof. Yacob Barnai Haifa U

Prof. Shosh Bar-Nun TAU

Prof. Arie Bass TAU

Prof. Outi Bat-El TAU

Prof. Hava Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot  TAU

Prof. Yehuda Bauer HUJI

Dr. Dalia Beck BGU

Prof. Yhuda Beeton BGU

Dr. Guy Beiner BGU

Prof. Shimshon Belkin HUJI

Prof. Avner Ben-Amos TAU

Prof. Eyal Ben Ari HUJI

Dr Hagit Benbaji BGU

Prof. Yemima Ben-Menachem HUJI

Prof. Ziva Ben-Porat, TAU

Prof. Yinon Ben-Neriah,  HUJI

Prof. Simon Benninga TAU

Prof. Zvi Bentwich BGU

Dr. Yael Benyamini TAU

Dr. Yael Ben-Zvi BGU

Prof. Benjamin Isaac TAU

Dr. Nitza Berkovitch BGU

Dr. Louise Bethlehem HUJI

Prof. Anat Biletzki TAU

Prof. Yoram Bilu HUJI

Prof. David Blanc Haifa U

Prof. Rony Blum HUJI

Prof. Shoshana Blum-Kulka HUJI

Prof. Irena Botwinik-Rotem BGU

Prof. Yohanan Brada HUJI

Prof. Michael Brandeis HUJI

Prof. Yigal Bronner TAU

Prof. Jose Brunner TAU

Prof. Judith Buber Agassi HUJI

Prof. Victoria Buch HUJI

Dr. Naama Carmi Haifa U

Dr. Julia Chaitin Sapir College

Prof. Reuven Chayoth BGU

Dr. Raz Chen- Morris BIU

Prof. Mottie Chevion HUJI

Dr. Tamar Cholcman TAU

Dr. Eyal Chowers TAU

Prof. Esther Cohen HUJI

Prof. Michael J. Cohen BIU

Prof.  Yerachmiel Cohen  HUJI

Dr. Yinon Cohen TAU

Mrs. Anat Danziger HUJI

Prof. Marcelo Dascal TAU

Prof. Nathan Dascal TAU

Prof. David Degani Technion

Prof. Sahul Dollberg TAU

Prof. Fanny Dolzhansky HUJI

Dr. Daniel Dor TAU

Prof. Yuval Dor HUJI

Dr. Iris Dotan TAU

Prof. Tommy Dreyfus TAU

Prof. Amos Dreyfus HUJI

Dr Eli Dresner TAU

Dr Otniel Dror HUJI

Dr Tammy Eilat Yagoury TAU

Prof. Gerda Elata-Alster BGU

Prof. Miri Eliav-Feldon TAU

Prof. David Enoch HUJ

Prof. Yehouda Enzel HUJI

Prof. Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan Haifa U

Prof. Ilan Eshel TAU

Prof. Aharon Eviatar TAU

Dr. Zohar Eytan TAU

Dr. Ovadia Ezra TAU

Prof. Raphael Falk HUJI

Prof. Ruma Falk HUJI

Prof. Emmanuel Farjoun HUJI

Prof. Celia Fassberg HUJI

Prof. Steve Fassberg HUJI

Dr. Jackie Feldman BG

Prof. Rivka Feldhay TAU

Dr. Tovi Fenster, TAU

Dr. Dani Filc BGU

Dr. Lizzie Fireman TAU

Prof. Menachem Fisch TAU

Dr. Susie Fisher Open U

Prof. Hanan Frenk TAU

Prof. Gideon Freudenthal TAU

Prof. Ariela Fridman TAU

Prof. Ehud Friedgut HUJI

Prof. Eli Friedlander TAU

Dr. Alon Friedman BGU

Dr. Paul Frosh HUJI

Dr. Iris Fry Technion

Prof. Michael Fry Technion

Dr. Michalle Gal TAU

Prof. Yolanda Gampel TAU

Prof. Uri Gat HUJI

Prof. Nima Geffen TAU

Dr. Ido Geiger HUJI

Prof. Deborah Gera HUJI

Prof. Israel Gershoni TAU

Dr. Mahmud Ghanayim TAU

Prof. Avner Giladi Haifa U

Dr. Asaf Gilboa Haifa U

Dr. Jack Gilrom BGU

Prof. Ruth Ginsburg HUJI

Prof. Simona Ginsburg OU

Prof. Rachel Giora TAU

Dr. Snait Gissis TAU

Prof.essor Eli Glasner TAU

Prof. Ruth Glasner HUJI

Prof. Marek Glezerman TAU

Mr. Shuka Glotman BGU

Prof. Michael Gluzman TAU

Dr. Tamar Golan BGU

Dr. Menachem Goldenberg TAU

Prof. Haim Goldfus BGU

Prof. Amiram Goldblum HUJI

Prof. Oded Goldreich Weizmann

Prof. Hari Golomb TAU

Dr. Neve Gordon BGU

Dr. Tresa Grauer BGU

Dr. Moki Greefeld TAU

Dr. Matine Grenak-Katrivs TAU

Prof. Nachum Gross HUJI

Prof. Yosef Gruenbaum HUJI

Prof. Guretzki-Bilu TAU

Prof. Zali Gurevitch HUJI

Prof. David Gurwitz TAU

Prof. Yossi Guttmann Haifa U

Dr. Ran Hacohen TAU

Prof. Uri Hadar TAU

Dr. Abdulla Haj Ichia HUJI

Prof. Aviva Halamish TAU

Dr. Masud Hamdan Haifa U

Dr. Talma Handler TAU

Dr. Oren Harman BI

Prof. Alon Harel HUJI

Prof. Ran Hassin HUJI

Prof. Galit Hazan-Rokem HUJI

Prof. Shlomo Hasson HUJI

Prof. Abraham Hefetz TAU

Prof. Moti Heiblum Weizmann

Dr. Sibyl Heilbron Haifa U

Dr. Eyal Heifetz TAU

Dr. Sara Helman BGU

Prof. Yitzhak Hen BGU

Dr. Omri Herzog   HUJI

Dr. Tamar Hess HUJI

Prof. Hannan Hever TAU

Dr. Sylvie Honigman TAU

Prof. Ehud Hrushovski HUJI

Prof. Boaz Huss BGU

Prof. Eva Illuz HUJI

Dr. Anat Israeli, Oranim

Prof. Eva Jablonka TAU

Prof. Dan Jacobson TAU

Prof. Sulaiman Jubran TAU

Prof. Edouard Jurkevitch HUJI

Dr. Nirit Kadmon TAU

Dr. Devora Kalekin Haifa U

Dr. Itay Kama TAU

Dr. Avi Kaplan BGU

Dr. Nahum Karlinsky BGU

Prof. Steve Karlish Weizmann

Prof. Rimon Kasher BIU

Prof. Tamar Katriel Haifa U

Prof. Yaakov Katriel Technion

Dr. Roni Kaufman BGU

Prof. Gad Kaynar TAU

Dr. Chen Keasar BGU

Ms. Ruth Kener TAU

Prof. Michael Keren HUJI

Dr Nadera Shalhov-Kevorkian HUJI

Prof. Hanan J. Kisch BGU

Dr. Menachem Klein BI

Prof. Sara Klein Breslavy TAU

Dr. Yoel Klemes Open U

Prof.  Ruth Klinov  HUJI

Dr. Ariel Knafo HUJI

Prof. Yehoshua Kolodny, HUJI

Prof. Mordechai Kremnizer HUJI

Prof. David Kretzmer HUJI

Dr. Michal Krumer-Nevo BGU

Prof. Richard Kulka HUJI

Dr. Orna Kupferman HUJI

Dr. Raz Kupferman HUJI

Dr. Ron Kuzar Haifa U

Dr. Ori Lahav Technion

Prof. Lius Landa BGU

Prof. Idan Landau BGU

MS. Tali Latowicki BGU

Dr. Shai Lavi TAU

Prof. Boaz Lazar HUJI

Dr. Gerardo Leibner, TAU

Prof. Aaron Lerner Haifa U

Prof. Haim Levanon HUJI

Prof. Iris Levin TAU

Prof. Yakir Levin BGU

Prof. Shimon Levy TAU

Prof. David Lior HUJI

Dr Orly Lubin TAU

Prof. Yael Lubin BGU

Dr. Menachem Luz Haifa U

Prof. M. Machover HUJI

Dr. Daniel Maman BGU

Dr. Shmuel Marco TAU

Prof. Avishai Margalit HUJI

Prof. Moshe Margalith TAU

Prof. Shimon Marom Technion

Prof. Imauel Marx TAU

Dr. Anat Matar TAU

Prof. Tsevi Mazeh TAU

Prof. Raphael Mechoulam HUJI

Prof. Gidon Medini TAU

Prof. Avinoam Meir BGU

Prof. Ron Meir Technion

Prof. Yoram Meital BGU

Dr. Eran Meshorer HUJI

Mr. Avi Mograbi Bezalel

Prof. Raya Morag HUJI

Dr. Efrat Morin HUJI

Prof. Uzi Motro, HUJI

Prof. Guy Mundlak TAU

Prof. Ben Zion Munitz TAU

Dr Eti Nachliel TAU

Prof. Zvi Neeman TAU

Prof. Yosef Neuman TAU

Dr. Yitshak Nevo BGU

Dr. Gidi Nevo BGU

Prof. David Newman BGU

Prof.. Ariel Novoplanky BGU

Prof. Avi Ohry  TAU

Prof. Dalia Ofer HUJI

Dr. Yanai Ofran BIU

Prof. Adi Ophir TAU

Prof. Aharon Oppenheimer TAU

Prof. Avi Oz Haifa U

Prof. Iris Parush BGU

Dr. Galia Patt Shamir TAU

Dr. Einat Peled TAU

Dr. Yoav Peled TAU

Prof. Bezalel Peleg HUJI

Prof. Hana Peres TAU

Prof. Mordechai Perl BGU

Prof. Kobi Peter( Peterzil) Haifa U

Dr. Amit Pichevski HUJI

Dr. Yona Pinson TAU

Prof. Nava Pliskin BGU

Prof.. Francis Dov Por HUJI

Prof.. Dan Rabinowitz TAU

Prof. Gad Rabinowitz BGU

Prof. Chaim Rachman Technion

Prof. Yoel Rak TAU

Dr. Hagai Ram BGU

Prof. Uri Ram BGU

Prof. Mauro Rathaous TAU

Prof. Shalom Ratzabi TAU

Dr. Tal Raviv TAU

Prof. Jacob Raz, TAU

Prof. Elchanan Reiner TAU

Prof. Omer Reingold Weizmann

Prof. Meir Rigby HUJI

Prof.  Ruth Rigby HUJI

Dr. Roer-Strier HUJI

Prof. Freddie Rokem TAU

Prof. Dana Ron TAU

Prof.  Moshe Ron  HUJI

Dr. Ayala Ronal TAU

Prof. Steven Rosen BGU

Prof. Tova Rosen BGU

Dr. Zeev Rosenhek OPU

Dr. Issachar Rosen-Zvi TAU

Prof. Susan Rothstein BI

Prof. Elisheva Rosen TAU

Dr. Avi Rubin BGU

Dr. Prof. Bella Rubin TAU

Mr. Daniel Rubinstein BGU

Dr. Ilan Saban Haifa U

Prof. Yosef Sadan TAU

Dr. Hanna Safran Haifa U

Prof. Shlomo Sand TAU

Prof. Shifra Sagi BGU

Dr. Lilach Sagiv HUJI

Prof. Edwin Seroussi HUJI

Dr. Zvi Schuldiner Sapir College

Dr. Sara Schwartz Open U

Dr. Yossef Schwartz TAU

Dr. Shlomi Segall HUJ

Dr. Ella Segev Technion

Prof. Idan Segev HUJI

Prof. Ruben Seroussi  TAU

Dr. Alla Shainskaya, Weizmann

Dr.  Yeala Shaked  HUJI

Dr. Milette Shamir TAU

Prof. Michal Shamir TAU

Dr. Ronen Shamir TAU

Dr. Yaakov Shamir HUJI

Prof. Benny Shanon HUJI

Prof. Itzhak Shapira TAU

MS. Noa Shashar  HUJI

Dr. Relli Shechter BGU

Prof.. Gaby Shefler HUJI

Prof. Miriam Shlesinger BI

Prof. Yehuda Shenhav TAU

Prof. Yosef Shiloh TAU

Prof. Tal Siloni TAU

Dr. Eyal Shimoni Weizmann

Prof. Naomi Shir BGU

Prof. Moshe Shokeid TAU

Prof. Boaz Shushan BGU

Dr. Tal Shuval TAU

Prof. Moshe Silberbush, BGU

Dr. Ivy Sichel HUJI

Dr. Rosalie Sitman TAU

Dr. Vered Slonim Nevo BGU

Prof. Varda Soskolne BIU

Prof. Avishai Stark TAU

Prof. Wilfo Stein HUJI

Prof. Shamai Speiser Technion

Prof. W. D. Zeev Stein HUJI

Prof. Carlo Strenger TAU

Dr. Deborah Sweeney, TAU

Dr. Daniella Talmon-Heller BGU

Prof. David Talshir BGU

Dr. Daphne Tsimhoni Technion

Prof. Gideon Toury, TAU

Dr. Hamoutal Tsamir BGU

Prof. Yoav Tsori  BGU

Dr. Rachel Tzelnik-Abramovitch TAU

Prof. Joseph Tzelgov BGU

Dr. Jehuda (Dudy) Tzfati HUJI

Prof. Edna Ullmann Margalit HUJI

Prof. Sabetai Unguru TAU

Dr. Vered Vitizky-Seroussi HUJI

Prof. Naphtali Wagner HUJI

Prof. Alon Warburg HUJI

Dr. Eynel Wardi HUJI

Prof. Henry Wassermann OPU

Dr. Nathan Wasserman HUJI

Prof.. Ruth Weintraub  TAU

Dr. Barak Weiss BGU

Dr. Haim Weiss BGU

Prof. Sasha Weitman TAU

Prof. Haim Werner TAU

Prof. Yehuda Werner HUJI

Prof. Paul Wexler TAU

Prof.. Yoad Winter Technion

Dr. Nurit Yaari TAU

Prof. Yoel Yaari HUJI

Dr. Haim Yacobi BGU

Dr. Niza Yanay BGU

Prof. Eli Yassif TAU

Dr. Mahmoud Yazbak Haifa U

Dr. Edit Yerushalmi Weizmann

Prof. Oren Yiftachel BGU

Dr. Daphna Yoel TAU

Prof. Yuval Yonay Haifa U

Prof. Mira Zakai TAU

Dr. Michael Zakim TAU

Prof. Shmuel Zamir HUJI

Prof. Anat Zanger TAU

Prof. Joseph Zeira HUJI

Dr. Dina Zilberg BGU

Prof. Moshe Zimmermann HUJI

Dr. Michal Zion BIU

Dr. Amalia Ziv TAU

Dr. Ouriel Zohar Technion

Dr. Tsaffrir Zor TAU

Prof. Moshe Zuckermann TAU

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