(photo credit: Courtesy)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett said the main purpose of the suggested academic ethics code is to set ground rules to protect it.
In an interview with Channel 2 on Saturday, Bennett said that on the one hand implementing it will prevent the lecturers from calling to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and on the other hand, it will help protect students that hold political viewpoints that are different from their professors.
According to the proposed code, which was drafted by Prof. Asa Kasher (who also drafted the IDF ethics code), there will be units on campuses to enforce the ban, and students can complain to them about violations.
The code also forbids academic institutions from cooperating with NGOs that are politically affiliated.
“Does it make any sense that Israeli professors will call to boycott themselves, and at the same time they will keep getting salaries from all of us?” Bennett asked.
“Does it make any sense that a university will run a legal clinic in cooperation with [left-wing NGO] B’Tselem so they can defend terrorists or that students are being slammed for holding different viewpoints from their professors?” Bennett then said an ethics code is needed, but not necessarily the exact draft sent to him by Kasher.
“This [draft] is not the ‘Ten Commandments.’ We now started a dialogue with the universities in order to stop this impossible situation that has been going for decades,” he said.
Bennett dismissed claims that the code would harm democratic values in the academic field.
“I do not understand how preventing professors from calling to boycott the State of Israel is harming democracy,” he said. “How is preventing the harassment of students harming democracy? This is establishing democracy.”
He also stressed that the code would not prevent discussions on political issues, as several critics claimed.
“Obviously a political science lecturer will have to deal with political issues,” he said. “He should do it because this is his field. But he should do it in a balanced way, and not only present one side – something that happens often.
“There is no silencing here. On the contrary, we are ending the yearslong silencing of students who were forced to be silent so their professor would not lower their grade for holding political views that were different from the ones they held.”