Academic Freedom and the Bar-Ilan Conference: An Open Letter to a Palestinian Colleague

Article/book #: 33091
Title: Academic Freedom and the Bar-Ilan Conference: An Open Letter to a Palestinian Colleague
By: Nur-eldeen Masalha  
Date of issue: Wednesday, 25 January 2006
Topic(s) addressed: People/entities mentioned in this item:


»First: this conference is a total PR political project for Bar Ilan University; I believe the conference planners (and I am sure this has nothing to do with you personally) are hoping to cover up for the disgraceful record of Bar Ilan University; we all know the university is still closely associated with Israeli colonial policies in the West Bank; in fact, some of its leading lecturers actually live in illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank.«

»As you know Bar Ilan University has always been a strong-hold for Gush Emunim and other fanatical settlers in the West Bank; even Yigal Amir, who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, was a third year law student at Bar-Ilan University. In February 1996 the Israeli media reported the fund-raising group “American Friends of Bar-Ilan University” used promotional material in New York featuring pictures of the confessed killer, Amir. Bar-Ilan University President Moshe Kaveh was reported as saying the brochure had been prepared wholly by “American Friends of Bar Ilan” and that the inclusion of Amir’s photo was “an egregious error of oversight, not an act of intent or malice”. But the whole Amir episode is hardly surprising: in the early 1980s the Bar Ilan campus Rabbi wrote an article in the campus organ (Bat Kol), entitled: mitzvat hagenocide batorah [literally translates: “The Genocide Commandment of the Torah]. Of course this is not about the Torah but about the Rabbi himself and his fundamentalist views, in effect advocating some sort of genocide against the Palestinians. The article was condemned by several liberal Israelis (including one of the speakers at the Bar Ilan conference), but the episode highlighted the state of mind among some of the key employees of Bar Ilan.«

»Generally-speaking Bar Ilan University is one of the worst Israeli universities in terms of “academic freedom of the Palestinians” – both Palestinian students from Israel and Palestinians under Israeli occupation

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