The Council for Higher Education decided on Tuesday evening not to close
Ben-Gurion University’s controversial politics department, after months of
discussion on the issue.
The council had decided to close the political
science program last fall after some two years of investigating allegations made
by right-wing organizations that its faculty was teaching students radical
leftist political opinions.
After the Beersheba university appealed the
decision and dozens of political leaders as well as heads of higher education
institutions in the country expressed opposition to the closure, the council’s
subcommittee in charge of the issue met with the program’s representatives last
October and decided to grant the politics department three weeks to show a
concrete commitment to changing its curriculum and incorporating more varied
The deadline was then postponed until after the
January 22 national election.
Tuesday’s decision to keep the department
open came with conditions: The department will have to hire two or three new
faculty members who meet criteria fixed by the subcommittee, which will also
regularly control the quality and diversity of the curriculum.
university’s commitment to abide by the requirements, students registrations for
the next academic year will be reopened.
BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi
said on Wednesday that the institution was satisfied with the
“BGU has reiterated its commitment to work with the Council
for Higher Education and implement its recommendations. The final agreement
strengthens the university and benefits both students and faculty,” she
The Zionist organization Im Tirzu, which played a key role in
pushing for the department’s closure and had called the program “disturbing” and
“unbalanced,” on Wednesday congratulated the university for “accepting the
conditions and the changes that the CHE [Council for Higher Education] required”
and deciding to “make fundamental and pluralistic change to the political
“We thank the Council for Higher Education and
Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar, for handling the issue of the problematic
department and congratulate them on this achievement,” Im Tirzu wrote. “We thank
past and present students for their courage and determination and we hope that
this episode was the end of anti-Zionist indoctrination at Ben-Gurion
The organization added that it would continue to stand
besides students and Zionist values in Israeli universities.
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