Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Shultz Compares West Bank Pledge to U.S. Loyalty Oaths in the ’50s

November 22, 1982
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Secretary of State George Shultz’ comparison of the plege non-resident teachers at West Bank universities are being required by Israel to sign with the loyalty oath at some American universities in the 1950s is developing into another major source of contention between Israel and the United States.

“I suppose I speak about it, in part, because I am fundamentally a university man, and the idea of asking people who come to teach and work in a university setting, which is, after all, a setting where we expect to have freedom of thought and to encourage freedom of thought, signing an oath is just not the way to go about it, ” Shultz said at a press conference last Thursday.

A spokesman for the Israel Embassy here said Friday that “the pledge that aliens seeking a working permit in Judaea and Samaria are asked to sign, is certainly not an interference in matters of academic freedom. It is a pledge not to support or to assist the PLO or any other hostile organization. In no way does it interfere with freedom of thought.

Shultz’ remarks were made in response to a question on whether U.S. aid for Israel is linked with the Reagan Administration’s request that Israel freeze the establishment of settlements on the West Bank.


After saying there is no such link, Shultz added that “some of the conditions on the West Bank are certainly not a constructive contribution to the peace process,” and then he denounced the pledge requirement. The State Department had earlier last week denounced the pledge requirement as harmful to the Reagan Administration’s “effort to restore momentum to the peace process.” Many of the academics, mostly Jordanian but some American citizens, have refused to sign and are being deported.

When Shultz was asked at his press conference whether the United States could do anything about the pledges, he replied “I think we should speak unequivocally about it.” He reminded the reporters of the period of the 1950s when some universities required loyalty oaths.

“Maybe some of you are too young to remember these days but I remember them.” He said that people in the intellectual community who lived through it “ought to speak up, including people in the universities in Israel. It is the same problem. It is a problem of freedom of thought.”

At the State Department Friday, spokesman John Hughes said Shultz made his remarks the day before because he felt “personally” about academic freedom. During the 1950s Shultz was an economics professor and dean of the graduate school of business at Chicago University.


“It is his belief, shared by many thoughtful Americans, that requirements for loyalty thoughts and political pledges from educators are an abridgements of academic freedom,” Hughes said. He said the United States supports academic freedom everywhere in the world and makes “no apology for that defense. We believe it is a vital tenet of our way of government and we believe that many Israelis and others around the world share our perception.”

Hughes also stressed that “the Israeli requirement, whatever its basis in legality or precendent, is, in our view, totally unnecessary from a security standpoint. it has the effect, whether or not intended, of eroding the few Arab institutions remaining on the West Bank. Its impact on the thinking of West Bankers is not helpful to our efforts to expand the peace process.”


The Israel Embassy stressed Friday that the State of Israel is known to have established the most liberal military administration ever instituted in any country. Further, the Arab people living in Judoea and amaria are not required to sign the pledge.

“They enjoy civil liberties to a much larger extent than do the full citizens of any country in the Middle East. The demand that people seeking employment in a foreign country refrain from hostile activities is common to most countries, including Western democracies, ” a statement by the Embassy explained.

The Embassy statement noted that the U.S. has a law barring temporary visas for persons, including teachers, who are Anarchists, Communists, Nazi war criminals or groups whose aim is to overthrow a government. This stipulation has been used to exclude professors from East European countries and other Marxists as well as members of the PLO Hughes rejected this argument.

Recommended from JTA