Top Israeli Professors Charge Bar-Ilan University With Political Persecution

Dr. Ariella Azoulay, a professor in Bar-Ilan's Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies program, says the university denied her tenure and promotion due to her leftist leanings.

Some 70 prominent lecturers from various universities nationwide this week accused Bar-Ilan University of political persecution and denying lecturers promotion and tenure due to their political opinions and activity.

The lecturers called on the Council For Higher Education to look into the university's appointment procedures, following its decision to deny tenure to Dr. Ariella Azoulay last year. The university also recently decided - again - not to promote Dr. Menachem Klein, of the political science department, to professor.

Bar-Ilan dismissed the allegations saying "decisions about promoting lecturers are made solely on the basis of their academic achievements."

About a month ago Bar-Ilan rejected Azoulay's appeal to reconsider the appointment committee's decision not to grant her promotion and tenure. Consequently, Azoulay will stop teaching in Bar-Ilan's Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies program, as she has been doing since 1999.

Azoulay, who has published about 10 books and numerous essays in prominent journals, said the university denied her tenure and promotion because of her leftist leanings.

"Dr. Azoulay is one of the world's leading researchers in photography and visual culture," the lecturers' group wrote to the Council and Bar-Ilan's president and rector.

In view of Azoulay's international recognition, "the university's decision raises a heavy suspicion of political persecution," they wrote.

Prof. Yaron Ezrachi of Hebrew University's political science department said "Bar-Ilan has learned to conceal political considerations, disguising them as academic processes. We fear the precedent of firing lecturers for radical political views of any kind, despite their international academic excellence. This could contaminate the entire higher education system in Israel."

Ariella Azoulay, Courtesy