Likud's replacement in Knesset of lawmaker Gideon Sa’ar, who launched his own party earlier this week, has removed any mention of a doctorate he received from a university in Ukraine which is not recognized by Israeli authorities.
Likud MK Nissim Vaturi told Haaretz that he took steps to delete information about his distance learning degree after finding out in 2011 that it isn't recognized in Israel.
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Vaturi filed an affidavit with the Central District Court in 2015, as part of a bankruptcy proceeding, saying he had a doctorate in business administration. He was also presented as having a doctorate in a number of political advertisements on Facebook after 2011.
Vaturi claimed he had completed a doctorate from the International University of Business and Law (IUBL) in Kherson, Ukraine in 2008.
Over the past year, after he won a place on the Likud slate that gave him a realistic chance of entering the Knesset, he has tried to remove any mention of the degree from the internet.
In May it was removed from his Wikipedia page and last year he asked Facebook to delete a page that included ads presenting him as having a doctorate – but the page still exists.
The Council for Higher Education in Israel does not recognize degrees from IUBL, and the Education Ministry has even issued a warning on the matter.
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Vaturi filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of debts of 2,4 million shekels (about $615,000 at the time) to 31 creditors, mostly banks, suppliers and loan providers. He ran up the debts after he opened a café in the city of Katrin in the Golan Heights, but the business never took off and accumulated heavy debt.
The court accepted his bankruptcy petition, saying his financial troubles resulted in part from “business complications, business failure and from a lack of good faith.” In his affidavit, Vaturi noted his degree and wrote: “While working, I continued my studies and I managed to complete them. Eventually I received a doctorate in business administration.”
When Haaretz first approached Vaturi on Thursday, he said he had a doctorate from a university overseas, but declined to name it. Later he said he received the degree after one year of studies from IUBL.
Vaturi said that after he learned it was not recognized in Israel, he acted to remove any mentions of the degree, and the only time he mentioned it was in a single Facebook post from 2011. “I have no desire or need for degrees I don’t have. In the campaign for the Likud Knesset slate, I did not use any degree.”
Vaturi, 51, is from Alonei Habashan, a moshav on the Golan Heights.