Ariel University Professor Given Formal Dismissal Notice in Contravention of Regulations

Pros. Amir Hetsroni insists that he is being dismissed for criticizing the lack of freedom of expression within Ariel University and other academic institutions.

Yarden Skop
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Ariel UniversityCredit: AP
Yarden Skop

Ariel University yesterday informed Prof. Amir Hetsroni, who on August 27 was told of his dismissal from the institution, that his salary would not be paid after that date. That decision, as well as the dismissal itself, is in apparent contravention of university regulations as well as a ruling by a labor court on the case.

On August 26 the university’s Faculty Discipline and Ethics Committee decided that Hetsroni should be fired for “conduct inappropriate for a member of the faculty,” ostensibly relating to comments he made that were deemed insulting to women and other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

The dismissal letter was sent to Hetsroni even though university regulations stipulate that no disciplinary decision is to be implemented until the subject is given the chance to appeal.

Moreover, the Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court had ruled that any decision in the Hetsroni case could not be implemented for 30 days, in order to allow for a response.

Hetsroni insists that he is being dismissed for political reasons. Just before his dismissal he published an opinion piece in Haaretz that linked the academic boycotts of Israeli institutions to what he said was the undermining of academic freedom and freedom of expression imposed by Ariel University and other academic institutions on their faculties and students during Operation Protective Edge.

“Ariel University has crossed the line between undermining democracy and plain thuggery,” Hetsroni told Haaretz yesterday. “Any child can understand that I’m being pursued for political reasons.”

Upon learning of the disciplinary committee’s ruling, Hetsroni’s attorney, Baruch Orenstein, informed the university that Hetsroni planned to appeal, and Hetsroni said he would be submitting his appeal shortly. He plans to argue that the decision was illegal because it was made without Orenstein present, even though he had informed the committee well in advance of a previously planned vacation.

Ariel University said that the discussion of Hetsroni’s case had been conducted in accordance with the labor court decision, and the special six-member panel had voted on August 26 to dismiss him.

While acknowledging Hetsroni’s right to appeal, the university added, “The decision by the special disciplinary committee is valid for as long as it has not been changed by an appeals committee. To date, Prof Hetsroni has not submitted an appeal of the committee’s decision.”