Bennett’s proposed code of ethics impedes ‘academic freedom,’ Israeli university heads say


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett has proposed a code of ethics that would prohibit lecturers from expressing political opinions at work and from calling for an academic boycott of Israel.

Bennett defended the proposed code on Sunday, ahead of the weekly Cabinet meeting, according to reports.

“We are taking action to prevent silencing in academe, to prevent a situation where a student is getting hurt due to his political views and where a lecturer whose salary is paid by taxpayers calls for an [academic] boycott,” Bennett reportedly said during the meeting,

“We’re in favor of academic freedom. We’re against promoting political agendas in academe,” he also said.

The code, drafted by Asa Kasher, a philosophy and ethics professor at Tel Aviv University who also wrote the Israeli army’s code of ethics, reportedly will be submitted soon to the Council for Higher Education for approval, according to Haaretz.

The code would require each university or college “to establish a unit that would monitor political activity” on campus, according to Haaretz. Students would be able to complain about their professors if they breach the code.

The Association of University Heads, condemned the proposed code in a statement issued on Saturday night, a day after Bennett went public with it, saying it “undermines institutes of higher education’s freedom to decide their own codes of conduct for their academic staff, and thus infringes on academic freedom in the most serious and fundamental way.”

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