The writer is the International Relations Coordinator for Im Tirtzu, an extra-parliamentary movement that works to strengthen and advance the values of Zionism in Israel and fights delegitimization of the Jewish State.
Much of the recent public discourse in Israel has focused on the proposed academic code of ethics, written by author of the IDF Code of Ethics, Prof. Asa Kasher, which aims to set clear guidelines regarding the role of political activity in academia.
Among other things, the code recognizes and seeks to address the widespread phenomenon wherein certain professors – under the guise of academic freedom –use their position to subject students to politicized material that reflects only one side of the academic debate – their own – while at the same time prohibiting other points of view, particularly from students.
Contrary to the inaccurate claims of the code’s detractors, the code does not in any way stifle political debate or ban political discussion from the classroom.
The code is a breath of fresh air for Israeli academia that aims to create an environment where students are presented with both sides of the discussion, which allows them to critically think, engage in vibrant academic exchange, and arrive at their own conclusions. That is the purpose of academia.
Unfortunately, many professors believe that their academic mandate gives them the right to preach only one side of the debate, while bullying and berating students who voice opposing views.
In more extreme, but not uncommon, instances, right-wing students are afraid to voice their opinions in class or to write pro-Israel content in their papers, out of concern that their grades will be negatively affected.
This is not academic freedom. This is not pluralism. This is coercion in the service of indoctrination.
Many opponents of the code mistakenly conflate academic freedom with freedom of speech. But what is lawfully guaranteed to an individual outside of the classroom…