Hundreds of academics from Israel and abroad have urged Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to reverse a fine it imposed on one of its professors, over his refusal to serve in the Israel Defense Forces reserves.

About 230 senior university lecturers from Israeli institutions of higher learning and about another 100 from abroad have sent a letter to BGU President Rivka Carmi, calling on her to reconsider the decision to reduce the pay of Prof. Idan Landau for a week that he spent in jail for refusing to serve. Another 90 faculty members from BGU made a similar demand of Carmi.

Prof. Landau, who lectures in the university's linguistics department, was informed about two weeks ago that half of his salary would be withheld for the period during which he was imprisoned for refusing for reasons of conscience. Landau has refused to do reserve duty for the past 11 years and has been imprisoned previously three times, but the university had not taken any steps against him in the past. In May of this year, after he spent a week in jail, he made up the instructional time that he had missed.

Landau also claimed that he continued conducting research from prison. In late June, however, the university administration deducted half of Landau's salary for the week on the grounds that he had been absent.

"Landau was not punished by the university," university spokesman Amir Rozenblit said. "No sanctions were imposed upon him for his political beliefs or due to any stance on the part of the university regarding his decision not to serve in the reserves. Employees are paid a salary for work. Since Dr. Landau was in detention, he was not at the disposal of his employer and is therefore not entitled to a salary for that period."

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: מאות מרצים התגייסו לצד הפרופ' שנקנס על סירוב לשרת