Bar-Ilan University's appointments committee decided recently not to grant tenure or promote a lecturer, reportedly because of her political leanings.
Associates of Dr. Ariella Azoulay, who teaches visual culture and contemporary philosophy in Bar-Ilan's Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies Program, and who has published books against the occupation, said: "The university has no germane reason to disqualify Ariella other than her positions. This is a political decision disguised as a professional one."
Bar-Ilan University said it "rejected any attempt to attribute to it extraneous considerations in the promotion of its faculty members," and that the matter was being dealt with and will be completed after the Sukkot vacation.
Azoulay has been teaching for 11 years at Bar-Ilan. She is also a director of documentaries and an art curator, and has published some 10 books and numerous articles in academic journals.
According to people familiar with the issue, Azoulay has been passed over in the past by university committees for tenure and promotion to professor, and now its supreme appointments body has ruled on the matter.
"Any decision can be validated by means of regulations and secret meetings," an associate of Azoulay said. If the university was dissatisfied with Azoulay, "how is it that she has been teaching there for more than a decade? Apparently her activities were unseemly to senior university officials," the associate said.
Among the books Azoulay has written is "Constituent Violence 1947-1950," an analysis of some 200 rare photographs whose purpose, the book says, was to recreate the formation of the Jewish regime while destroying Palestinian society.
She is coauthor with Prof. Adi Ophir, who is her partner, of "This Regime Which Is Not One: Occupation and Democracy between the Sea and The River - (1967 - )."
Among the films she directed is "I Also Dwell Among Your Own People: Conversations with Azmi Bishara."
"Few people dispute the fact that Ariella Azoulay is one of the most important researchers in cultural studies in Israel today," Prof. Yehouda Shenhav of Tel Aviv University, said. Shenhav also noted several recent cases of "persecution of lecturers in a political context" at universities, saying that "this is one of the crudest instances of preferring sectorial considerations over academic excellence."
A response from Azoulay, who is currently abroad, could not be obtained by press time.