The University of Haifa decided not to give an honorary doctorate to Nobel Prize winner Professor Robert Aumann. The reason: His right-wing views, which contradict the left-wing, pro-Palestinian spirit of the university. We recently learned that the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee will reportedly discuss the university's law clinics' practices of late, a third of which have focused on Palestinian rights, including the rights of Hamas terrorists serving prison sentences in Israel.
Aumann, a leading scholar of mathematics and game theory, does not need the University of Haifa's respect. His academic excellence does not require the university's affirmation, which is rather small by comparison. Every important international institution has opened its doors to him. Students the world over have flocked to Jerusalem to study under Aumann, learning the basic tenets of human logic.
The Executive Committee's disqualification of Aumann oozed politics. A post-Zionist Israeli university has rejected an internationally recognized scientist just because he is Zionist. Aumann's biggest sin is that he believes, in accordance with game theory, that the left-wing's obsession with concessions is illogical and totally dangerous. After several years' experience, one no longer has to be a distinguished professor to understand that capitulation, withdrawal and concessions do nothing to advance peace. On the contrary, they push peace further away. Honorary doctorates are given for scientific merit, not political opinions, and that is very important to understand. Academic disqualification based on political beliefs is reminiscent of humanity's darkest days.
Executive Committee Chairman Ami Ayalon (a former head of the Shin Bet), one of Yasser Arafat's eminent defense attorneys against Ehud Barak, is behind this bad decision. Ayalon accused Israel of triggering the Palestinian frustration that sparked the Second Intifada. He also advocated withdrawing to the 1967 borders, even unilaterally, to establish the Palestinian state. If these are the Executive Committee chairman's principles, it is no wonder that demonstrations against the Israel Defense Forces pop up during military incursions into the Gaza Strip, or that tensions flourish on campus during commemorations for the Nakba.
While Israel is struggling on every international stage against mixing science and politics, the University of Haifa is jumping in, throwing its support behind Israeli academia's most ardent adversaries. If Aumann is disqualified at the University of Haifa for his nationalist opinions, it is no wonder that universities in Britain reject Israeli scientists just because, in their eyes, the Haifa campus is located in occupied Palestine. The Executive Committee's decision cuts off the very branches supporting the university. Overseas, they don't distinguish between Israeli universities. As far as they're concerned, all of Israeli academia is contaminated.
Aumann will not play the university's game -- indeed, he's an expert in game theory. My advice to the university is that it apologize to Israel's Zionist citizens.
Shaked to Haifa University: Where is Freedom of Expression?
MK Ayelet Shaked appeals to the board of Haifa U. over decision to reject the degree of Professor Aumann due to his political views.
MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) sent a letter Monday to the office of Ami Ayalon, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Haifa University, and Minister of Education Shai Piron (Yesh Atid), appealing the controversial decision
not to grant an honorary doctorate to Professor Yisrael Aumann.
Professor Aumann is a Nobel Laureate in Economics and a noted academic scholar, yet Haifa University chose to reject him - not based on his scholarship, but ostensibly for his political views.
Ayalon and other board members decided Sunday to decline the grant of an honorary doctorate to the laureate, on the grounds that his "political views are not in line with University values."
Shaked fired back at the claims Monday, pointing out both that Aumann's political views should not be a factor in his academic standing and that other factors in his favor were not taken into account during the review.
"How can the board refuse to grant the Professor his honorary doctorate when he has been given international legitimacy by receiving a Nobel Prize?," Shaked stated. "Why, specifically, must his home [Israel] give him a shameful dismissal when hundreds of universities around the world gladly open their doors to Professor Aumann?"
Shaked added, "It is imperative that academic institutions examine and grant a certificate of appreciation according to the scientific and academic contribution of this candidate - and not according to his political views."
She also quoted the words of noted Professor Dr. Haim Shane, who sharply condemned the move earlier this week. "While the State of Israel is fighting on the world's stage against mixing politics and science, the University of Haifa has joined worst enemies of Israeli academia and gave them a boost [...] the decision of the Executive Committee cuts off the very values on which the University was founded."
Shaked's imperative echoes similar statements by MK Shimon Ohayon (Likud-Beytenu) Sunday, who vowed
to bring the issue to the Knesset plenum.
"Every university and research institution should foster scientific research and the only thing that should stand in the way of honoring an individual is a moral flaw or a criminal issue. Judging someone based on his political positions is extreme and extraordinary and should not be done in an academic institution," he said.
Ohayon also pointed out that since Haifa University is funded by the state of Israel, the refusal becomes a national issue.
The University has been the site of anti-Israel activity before. In 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, Arab students demonstrated in mourning not of IDF soldiers, but for downed terrorist
Ahmed Jabari. The university later made a public statement against the incident and banned
further student demonstrations.
Earlier this year, terror victims' advocacy organization Almagor publicly spoke out
against the university for providing legal aid to convicted terrorists.