Israeli academia outraged at new ethical code barring political opinion in class

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-11 05:37:22|Editor: yan
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JERUSALEM, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Israel's academia was in uproar on Saturday on a possible new ethical code to bar professors from speaking about politics in classrooms.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett made the remarks to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Friday that he decided to adopt new ethical guidelines for higher education institutions.

Bennett said he expects the Higher Education Council, a body that oversees Israel's higher education system and Bennett serves as its chairman, would discuss and approve the code "soon."

The guidelines would be implemented in all of the universities and colleges after the expected approval, he said.

The proposed code, a copy of which was seen by Xinhua, was drafted by Asa Kasher, a professor of philosophy at Tel Aviv University.

Under the code, professors would be forbidden from "promoting their political worldview in class." Each institution would be required "to establish a unit that would monitor political activity" on campus.

The code would also bar lecturers from calling for academic boycotts against Israel.

The academic community reacted angrily, denouncing the move as anti-democratic.

VERA, the umbrella organization of the heads of Israel's universities, released a statement Saturday saying they "vehemently object" the code.

It "undermines institutes of higher education's freedom to decide their own codes of conduct for their academic staffs, and thus infringes on academic freedom in the most serious and fundamental way," the statement read.

Israel's right-wing coalition has been putting efforts to fend off international criticism and calls for boycotts over the country's 50-year-long control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians wish to establish their future state.

Over the past years, academics and artists engaged in political activity against the occupation have become a frequent target for far-right ministers and lawmakers, who accuse them of "disloyalty."