Israeli University Reneges on Letting Students Skip Settler Critic's Exam

Lecturer Uri Weiss angers students by taking to Facebook after teen's stabbing death to point to 'collective psychosis.'

The Bar-Ilan University campus in Ramat Gan.
Tomer Appelbaum

The students of a Bar-Ilan University lecturer who wrote posts on Facebook criticizing West Bank settlers learned this week they will have to take an exam in order to pass the course.

The university administration had previously said it would waive the final exam requirement for the course.

This month, students of Uri Weiss were told they could receive a passing grade without taking the exam, after they complained that he had criticized settlers and settlements on Facebook.

The students also urged the university to cancel the classes of the outspoken teacher.

Weiss, who also writes a blog in the Hebrew edition of Haaretz, teaches in the university’s business school.

Shortly after a 13-year-old girl was stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager in her Kiryat Arba home last month, Weiss wrote, “When a group of parents chooses in the name of fanatic theology to live in a place that puts their children are in grave danger, we’re dealing with collective psychosis.”

Israeli soldiers set up a checkpoint on the road near the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba where a 13-year-old Israeli girl was fatally stabbed in her bedroom on June 30, 2016 in the occupied West Bank outside the Palestinian city of Hebron.
A Palestinian attacker broke into the Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, fatally stabbing a teenage girl and wounding a security guard before being shot dead, the army said.
Hazem Bader, AFP

He also wrote that “idolatry can cause parents to sacrifice their children to Moloch, not to mention placing them at irrational risk.”

The Walla news site reported this week that after students complained, the administration told MBA students enrolled in Weiss’ course that they did not need to take the final exam in order to pass it.

On Tuesday the university backtracked and said the students would have to take the final.

“Dr. Weiss posted a blatant statement on Facebook, accusing the parents of a girl who was murdered by terrorists in Kiryat Arba of being responsible for her murder.

"Bar-Ilan University expressed its flat objection to this a week ago, but made it clear that since they were published via a private format it won’t get involved,” the university said in a statement.

“The university believes ulterior motives should not be mixed with academic decisions and told the students the course’s requirements will not be changed," it added.

BIU spokesman Haim Zissovich said the decision to exempt Weiss’ students from the exam was made by junior university officials. When senior administrators learned of the decision, it was rescinded.

During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the university allowed 30 of Weiss’ business to switch out of his course after they accused him of being an extreme leftist and said they didn’t want to study with him.