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Pres. Rivlin rejects university curb on political speech

Pres. Ruby Rivlin
By TTN

A recent proposal by Israel’s Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett (head of the rightwing Jewish Home party), for the Knesset to legislate an “ethics code” that would prohibit university faculty from voicing their political opinions in class and from “participating in, or voicing support for, academic boycotts against Israeli institutions,” has drawn concern from members of our Third Narrative community as a threat to academic freedom.  Significantly, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has voiced a similar concern:

“We cannot build thriving educational systems if we do not develop one that encourages controversy,” he said. “The freedom to express a different opinion needs procedural protections and constant vigilance.”

. .  .  “We will not be able to build thriving and vital systems of scientific research and development of inspirational works of art,” he said, “if we do not actively foster educational systems that encourage diversity, controversy, initiative and unpredictability.”

If Mr. Bennett’s proposal was meant as a trial balloon, the negative reaction from academic and other quarters may have shot it down for now.  TTN’s affiliated Alliance for Academic Freedom group is closely studying developments on this matter.

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