In a conversation with Haaretz on Friday, Education Minister Limor Livnat said Ben-Gurion University of the Negev can no longer serve as Professor Lev Grinberg's academic home. Livnat made the same claim in a letter to the university's president, Professor Avishai Braverman, after statements from an article Grinberg published in the Belgian daily La Libre Belgique were quoted in Israel.
Senior sources in the minister's office said her absence from a meeting of the university's board of trustees, to which she was invited, was indeed an act of protest. However, they said Livnat does not attend all the board of trustees meetings in the higher education institutions and, in any case, there is no connection between her protest and Braverman's difficulty in raising funds for the university. This difficulty derives, they argued, from a similar protest of Jewish contributors, who are uncomfortable with Grinberg's articles.
It is hard to prove whether the two are connected, but it is clear that the ruckus caused by Livnat's comment, and following the university's publication of her letter, is causing damage to the university's image. The fear of harming Ben-Gurion University, at an especially difficult period for academe, in general, and for public universities, in particular, is less severe than the question in principle evoked by the minister's agitated response.