Academics, activists condemn firing of Maoz

Sapir College: Maoz's opinions were unpleasant but everyone can express his position without losing his livelihood.

Shlomo Maoz 311 (photo credit: Courtesy: Facebook)
Shlomo Maoz 311
(photo credit: Courtesy: Facebook)
Responses are pouring in to support former Excellence Investments Ltd. chief economist Shlomo Maoz, who was fired Wednesday, following a screed against Ashkenazim in a speech at the Sapir Academic College.
In a statement today, Sapir Academic College says, "The freedom of expression is a basic value in academia and individual rights. Some of the opinions made by Mr. Maoz were unpleasant to hear, and the college does not agree with most of them, but we strongly insist on the right of every person to express his position on the academic dais without losing his livelihood as a consequence."
The college added, "The Sapir Conference on Alternative Politics is an important stage for the exchange of opinions and arguments about issues on today's agenda in Israel. It allows academics, economists, and social leaders to hold a deep and serious discussion on policy issues with the intent of providing a sharp clarity about the issues raised by the social protest. We consider the action taken against Mr. Maoz as a major blow to pluralism, which a democratic society cannot tolerate."
Excellence said in response, "We believe in the right of every employee to have any opinion or perspective of any kind, but as managers of the public's money, there is no authority to mix their personal opinions in their work. Our duty to our members is purpose, professionalism, and integrity."
The Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow said in response, "The Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow congratulates Shlomo Maoz for his courage in making clear and difficult remarks about Israeli society, and we call on the automatic opponents to wait and try to listen to the harsh, but accurate, criticism."
A Facebook petition, entitled "Boycott Excellence Nessuah: Say no to censorship" has been launched in support of Maoz, and taken the issue one step farther by calling on people to withdraw their money from funds managed by the investment house.
"Shomo Maoz is going through hell," a friend told "Globes" today, following the loss of his job. Maoz has turned off his mobile phone and is refusing to accept calls. He has shut himself up at home as paparazzi gather outside.
The friend said that Maoz feels betrayed by Excellence, and that they have censored him. "If Shlomo Maoz cannot speak out, will an Arab or an Ethiopian be allowed to speak in this country? If Maoz, with all his stature, cannot speak, what will we have here?"
He added that Maoz spoke at an academic conference. "He has the absolute right to express his opinion and say what he wants. Excellence's response is an insult."