Israeli ministers prepare to vote on academic boycott bill

The legislation is intended to harm academic boycotts of Israel abroad that are led by professors employed by Israeli universities and colleges.

February 5, 2017 05:04
2 minute read.
bds boycott

Activists from the BDS movement against Israel [File]. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation will vote Sunday on a bill that would cut state funding for academic institutions that employ professors who support boycotts of Israel.

The legislation, proposed by Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer, is intended to harm academic boycotts of Israel abroad that are led by professors employed by Israeli universities and colleges.

The Im Tirtzu movement released a report last year about Israeli professors who have aided efforts around the world to boycott, divest, or sanction Israel and to prevent leading universities abroad from cooperating with Israeli academic institutions.

Forer said the bill will help prevent boycotts and make the boycotters pay a price, without harming academic freedom.
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“Israeli professors have unfortunately become the voices for BDS campaigns,” he said. “They take advantage of their stature to call for boycotts of the State of Israel, while they are receiving salaries from the state. These professors have been spitting into the well they drink from for too long, and now is the time to stop it.”

Im Tirtzu chairman Matan Peleg called upon ministers to support the measure, which he said cut across party lines because boycotts cause great harm to Israeli society and academic institutions.

Also on Sunday, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation will vote on whether the government will support a bill that would cut the three-year “cooling-off period” before running for the Knesset for former IDF generals and heads of the Shin Bet, Mossad and state police.

The legislation, proposed by Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, would eliminate the cooling-off period for generals who were not IDF chief of staff.

Stern said the current law, which was passed by the Likud’s Yuval Steinitz, was intended to prevent good people from competing for the leadership of the country. Steinitz, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, passed the bill when the Likud was in the opposition.

“The current cooling-off period is disproportionate and harms Israel by preventing people who are a good fit from running,” Stern said.

Another bill that will be brought to the committee Sunday would aid parents of twins. The legislation, proposed by Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson, would allow mothers and fathers of twins to take up to three weeks of maternity and paternity leave together.

The current law permits up to 17 weeks to be taken as paid leave, three more than the 14 allowed when one baby is born. The bill would allow the three extra weeks to be taken by the father at the same time that the wife is off from work.

“Having twins requires double the physical and mental resources, so my bill aims to make it easier on parents of twins and allow them to choose how to divide the extra weeks,” Hasson said.

There are efforts under way by Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria to extend parental leave to 19 weeks. Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, who passed a law that enables part of the parental leave to be taken by fathers, said she wants the two extra weeks to be allowed to be taken by fathers and mothers simultaneously.

“Mothers and fathers should be able to enjoy part of their leave together in order to help their babies and enjoy that special time in their lives,” Zandberg said.

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