CPI Pushes Back against Proposed Far-Right Academic “Ethics Code”

While the future of the proposed McCarthyist academic “ethics code” is still uncertain and awaits the approval of the Council for Higher Education, lawmakers from the Communist Party of Israel (CPI) are advancing legislation against the spirit of the document, which aims to “prevent university professors from expressing their political views in class.”

A recent demonstration against the "ethics code" at Tel Aviv University

A recent demonstration against the “ethics code” at Tel Aviv University (Photo: Social TV)

Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List), one of the leading members of the CPI, has submitted an amendment to the Student Rights Law of 2007, with the intention of “mak[ing] clear that freedom of speech and freedom of assembly will be possible in all academic institutions.” Khenin stated that this bill comes as a counter-initiative to the suggested “ethics code” that was proposed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as other similar actions. “We are proposing to explicitly anchor in law the right to hold political activities at universities,” he said. “The need to protect freedom of speech in academic institutions is getting more and more acute, in light of the current political reality.” According to the proposed “ethics code,” drafted by Professor Asa Kasher (who also drafted the Code of Conduct adopted by the Israeli army), bodies would be established on campuses to enforce the ban on expressing political opinions in class, and students would be able submit complains about violations.

According to the Students’ Department of Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel: “The new rules are part of Israel’s dangerous and ongoing attack on academic freedom. If implemented, the ethics code will become yet another manifestation of complicity by Israeli academic institutions in the political agenda of the state, which targets first Arab-Palestinian academics and students and is another step in the ‘fascization’ of Israel.”

According to Academia for Equality, an organization of the leftist lecturers in the Israel universities and colleges: “The code is far from its ostensible ethical goal. Everything is political and it is impossible to separate politics and other areas of life, and even more so in academia. The code is a form of ‘thought police’ and its only purpose is to silence voices and intimidate lecturers.”

However, the fascistic Im Tirtzu student group has welcomed the code, saying it would restore “sanity to Israeli academia.” “The ethical code compiled by Professor Asa Kasher is a correct and appropriate step toward the goal of ending politicization in academia,” Im Tirtzu head Matan Peleg said in a statement.

Related: Students and Lecturers Blast Proposed “Ethics Code” as an Undermining of Academic Freedom