Israeli Lecturers Urge State to Probe University's Alleged Anti-leftist Policies

Bar-Ilan University faculty members urge Council For Higher Education to examine claims by lecturers that they were denied promotion because of leftist political activities and opinions.

Faculty members at Bar-Ilan University yesterday urged the Council For Higher Education to examine claims by two of its lecturers that they were denied promotion because of their leftist political activities and opinions.

The university recently decided not to begin the procedure of promoting Dr. Menachem Klein, of the university's political science department, to professor. Five years ago, his request for promotion was also denied.

Dr. Ariella Azoulay, who has been teaching at Bar-Ilan's Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies program since 1999, and who has also been denied promotion, said: "There is no logical reason for the university not to grant me tenure and promotion, except my open political opinions."

Azoulay has published books and articles against the occupation.

In another case, about two years ago, a member of the administrative staff at Bar-Ilan wrote an article on an Internet blog against Operation Cast Lead. She signed her name but did not mention her workplace. Following complaints to the university, she was warned that she would be fired if she continued to publish such articles.

The university said Sunday that the woman had written an article "which could only be defined as slanderous and that expressed support for Hamas and was written by an employee in the university's computer department during working hours. The university opposes all political activity at its facilities during working hours and certainly opposes political activities supporting the enemies of the state."

An official at Bar-Ilan said the case of the administrative worker "is just one example of the current atmosphere at the university."

According to a professor at Bar-Ilan: "The Council on Higher Education must investigate Azoulay's and Klein's claims. The university is hiding behind arguments that its considerations are professional, but that is difficult to accept in light of the professional standing of these two individuals. Clearly, the university will oppose any such investigation."

Another lecturer said the council would examine the matter if it were persuaded that no clear criteria exist for promotion and that the faculty members were discriminated against for political reasons.

The university said yesterday that its reasons for not promoting Klein were purely academic and that "Klein's political opinions are of no interest to the committee."

Klein was quoted in Haaretz last Thursday as saying: "Right-wing and conservative forces have taken over key positions in the university. Some of these people believe it is their duty to cleanse the place of 'subversive' elements and they are taking all the necessary measures to do just that."