During the recent controversy regarding Neve Gordon’s L.A. Times op-ed supporting the BDS movement, one of the arguments offered by Israeli academic opponents was that a boycott would harm precisely those institutions within Israel doing the most on behalf of tolerance and co-existence between Jews and Arabs. The following story will certainly give the lie to that argument.
This year, a new private Israeli academic institution launched, the Carmel Academic Center. Among its offerings within the department of business administration was an accountancy concentration. But one week before classes began, the school cancelled it. Why? Too many Arabs. That’s right. Only three Jews registered and the rest were Israeli Palestinians. Not wanting to develop a reputation for being in bed with Arab lovers, the entrepreneur who founded the school pulled the plug. Here are some internal conversations published by the Alternative Information Center. Israeli Channel 2 broke the original story:
Dr. Amos Baranes, a senior lecturer at the Carmel Academic Center and head of the Accounting Concentration, held a conversation about this decision with Gil Reshef, the entrepreneur behind the for-profit Carmel center…: In this recorded conversation, Reshef said: “If it is a majority Arab, we can’t allow ourselves…[to become] an institution that will be categorized as Arab. Haifa University has this image and has a big problem [as] it is perceived as a university of Arabs […] If we will be seen as Arab, [students] will not come […]” Shocked by this conversation. Dr. Baranes met with Carmel Academic Center President, Professor Yehezkel Taler, formerly the Deputy Chair of the Israel Council for Higher Education. The conversation was recorded: Dr. Baranes: “Yesterday I had a conversation with Gil; Gil also raised the issue about which you spoke, the Jewish/Arab issue, that we shouldn’t be an Arab majority […]” Taler: “Here there was also a problem. Of all those who registered, three were Jews, the rest Arab.” A horrified Baranes turned to the Israel Council of Higher Education, which accredits all institutes of higher education in Israel, including the Carmel center. In a written response, the Council noted that “it was clarified beyond doubt that the college didn’t open the program due to financial considerations.” However, when Carmel College President Taler learned that Dr. Baranes contacted the Israel Council for Higher Education, he removed Baranes from the center’s academic council and told him his future at the college is unclear. Taler told Baranes (in a taped conversation): Taler: “I don’t want you there (Carmel’s academic council) […] I am not prepared that someone from the academic council will correspond with Ahmad Tibi (Dr. Tibi, Knesset member from the Ra’am Ta’al party) and the Israel Council for Higher Education.”
There you have it. This is the way the academic system sometimes works in Israel. The worst aspect of this is that the oversight organization, the Council of Higher Education, merely whitewashes the racism, instead of doing its job and objecting to it. This makes the Council and Israeli higher education (or least private higher education) a laughingstock. Decades ago, the Ivy League had a Jewish quota and many of our parents couldn’t attend for that reason. That’s why, in fact, schools like Brandeis University were founded. Unfortunately, there will be no Israeli Arab equivalent of Abe Sachar, Brandeis’ first president, to found a great Israeli Arab university. Besides, the state would never stand for it as it would show the world that because Arabs cannot get the same quality education Jews can, that is necessary to create an institution that will provide such training.
On a similar theme, the Orthodox schools of Petah Tikva refused to enroll 100 Ethiopian students in recent weeks. [UPDATE: After the education ministry threatened to cut off the schools’ funding, they grudgingly accepted them.] I simply don’t understand how a country can allow public schools to refuse to enroll a student due to his or her skin color and ethnicity. Petah Tikvah and Pisgat Zeev also received notoriety recently for conducting Iran-type modesty patrols. However, in this case the culprits were apprehended for miscegenation, mixed Arab and Jewish dating. I wonder if it’s something in the water in Petah Tikvah that makes people even more racist than the average Israeli.
I suppose that that students in Carmel Academic Center as a private institution have to pay rather much for their education. So Carmel Academic Center is ready to accept the money the Arab students have to pay, but is not ready to give them the education they want and for what they have paid. It would be more honest for Carmel Academic Institution openly to declare that NO ARABS ALLOWED. Let’s hope some active layer will make much money by suing the institution for not kept promises and racism. Surely the recorded discussion is evidence enough. At least it would be in a civilized country.
It is also clear that Carmel Academic Center conducts actively religious and racial “profiling”. How else can they make the decision that on the course are to many Arabs? It would be interesting to know have they in that “institution” also “quotas” for Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.
When Israel just was so outraged of Spain’s decision of kicking out the Ariel University Center of Samaria’s team this Carmel story is a real show of ultimate hypocrisy. Ariel University Center of Samaria’s defence was that they have 500 Arab students among the 10.000 students. Well if 20 percent of the population are Arabs then there should be 1000 – 2000 Arab students in Ariel University. Considering that the university in question is on occupied land even more. An interesting point is also how and why they in Israel have to “separate” their pupils by their religion.
I can imagine what an enormous unending anti-Semitism and racism crying today would start is any normal university or academic institution in Western world would profile their students by their race and religion. Too many Jews on the course announcement would (rightfully) make the Jewish “watch groups” jump to the ceiling. But not when “they” do the same to others.
There has been talk about founding an Arab university in Israel for years, with concrete plans and backers, but it has never – and almost certainly never will – be approved. If all else fails, the Council for Higher Education can always cite “security concerns”. There will be no Palestinian Brandeis is Israel because Palestinian citizens of Israel do not enjoy the same rights that Jews enjoyed in the US, even as they were being kept out of the ivy leagues.
The school claims that the Accounting Concentration was cancelled because of lack of students, and that those that registered some didn’t pay. Nothing from these conversation extracts proves otherwise. If you really want to get to the bottom of this you have to hear the entire conversation and not merely a few extracts that perhaps were taken out of context. But did you ever stop to wonder why these conversations were recorded in the first place? Well, it turns out that the news story ran on the May 24, 2009 (this is an old story). A little google search revealed that on May 21, 2009 a law suit was brought on by Dr. Baranes against the academy and Taler himself. So this news item is obviously part of a PR campaign whose purpose is to influence the courts. Mind you, I have not determined who is right or wrong, I’m merely bringing some context.
And Shmuel, there will be no “Palestinian Brandeis” because there is no need for one.
Richard Silverstein says
Amir, you’re off yr nut. Those conversations completely disprove the claims offered by you & the school. In none of those conversations do the school administrators mention any of the alleged reasons you’re presenting us. Better luck next time.
That’s quite a credible statement…
And you know this how? You are Israeli Palestinian? You have any specific knowledge to bring to bear on the subject? I thought not. Nice try.
Since this happened so long ago, you might have thought, like me, that more details of the case could be found on the internet. So here are the facts: This case was not whitewashed. It was brought to the attention of the Knesset education committee by MK Ahmad Tibi and a session was commenced and the full protocol can be found on the internet.
Only 13 qualifying students registered for Accounting and only one paid tuition so that for economic reasons accounting was closed and Baranes was fired, leading him to sue the school and start recording everyone. All the students were offered to enroll in other concentrations and 7 did so. Baranes still mainatins that the reason it was closed was because of racism but he is also still involved in a law suit. The knesset committee accepted the colleges account, MK Ahmad Tibi voted against.
Israel is a wonderful country.
“Israel is a wonderful country.”
Yeah, just ask the people of Gaza, the Lebanese, the Golan Syrians, and Israel’s Palestinian citizens how wonderful it is.
If Carmel Academic Center offers the education level of a bachelor’s degree as its English page claims so the given reasons are very “strange”. I suppose that the accounting course is one course among others demanded to a bachelor degree. Normally in schools like this the students pay for each term and only students taken in can sign up to courses.
The financial reason’s justification is hilarious considering the explanation Amir gave. If only one paid tuition why on earth were to those other 12 offered anything if they had not paid the tuition. Simply doesn’t make any sense Amir.
Israel is a “wonderful” country, but only with the extremely creative “explanations” Israel and “pro-Israelis” offers to hide the the harsh Apartheid reality.
Only one had paid tuition 4 days prior to the beginning of the school year, so it was not economically feasible to keep the concentration. It was cancelled to cut costs obviously. The cost to Baranes, lecture time, etc. Why don’t you read the Knesset protocols I linked to SimoHurtta. I’m sure a big expert like you on Israel can read Hebrew.
Richard Silverstein says
Wow, the fact that a right wing dominated Knesset committee confirmed the lies of the school administration must confirm they are the truth. Because no one in the Knesset has an ideological axe to grind or ever lies. And the actual statements of the administrators as confirmed by an actual tape recording which contradict the Knesset rpt. of course have not bearing on anything.
I have never heard of a student being allowed to sign up for a class without paying tuition. Very odd system you’ve got there in Israel.
On this planet, in EVERY university I have taught (Columbia, Harvard, BU, ACJ) and every university my three daughters attended (RPI, NAU, GWU, Truman State) it is perfectly acceptable for a student to sign up for a class and start the semester without paying. There are varying deadlines for getting the money in.
Also, on this planet, many courses are taught by adjuncts who do not get paid if the class does not fill.
Israel is strange in many ways, but the financial arrangements at this small, private college do not seem to be strange at all.
Well that is interesting “cutting costs”. The costs from such course come mainly from the salary of the teachers. I seriously doubt that the academic institution in question can recruit professional staff if they can inform to the teacher just before the course should start too little paying customers (= to many Arabs on the course), no work and salary this year. I also wonder what kind of Business school offering a bachelor’s degree doesn’t have some accounting courses of different levels.
Still I do not understand how
A) students of a private academic institution can sign up to courses if they haven’t made a legally binding commitment to pay the tuition
B) why something else is offered to those who have not paid the tuition. Surely the finance of that “something” else is not more financially “profitable” for that institution.
It would be interesting to know what else was offered to these “non paying Arabs”. A course in cleaning offices?
Even Amir the “Knesset” explanation would be written in Chinese it would not sound more convincing as the Hebrew version does.
SimoHurtta – I’ll explain to you those things you don’t understand.
This was the first year the college opened up. On the application forms it said that the courses may be cancelled if not enough people signed up.
Four days before the beginning of the year they decided to cancel the concentration and also tourism because of lack of enrollees. The students were allowed to transfer to another concentrations but obviously they would have to pay. Only seven chose to do so. The six others might not have been able to pay. In the transcript MK Tibi read (but was edited from channel 10) Gil said he needs a minimum of 40 students for it to be feasible. Seven is a lot fewer than 40.
Your comment about cleaning offices is idiotic and proves that you know nothing about Israel.
Shirin, I’m sure higher education is much better in whatever country you come from. So far Israel isn’t doing so bad.
Actually, Amir, before the U.S. decided the country needed to be destroyed, the higher education system was first class – good enough that it attracted top students from all over the region and beyond. Good enought that, for example, graduates of the medical school were able to get residencies at places like Johns Hopkins.
So are you doing your residency at John Hopkins Shirin? What specialty? And are you referring to the “American University of Beirut”?
Thanks for asking, Amir. No, I am not doing a residency anywhere. I passed that stage of life/career some time ago. And no, I am not referring to AUB, or any other American or Lebanese institution.
Correction, he was fired later. He started recording everyone after his position was reduced because of the closing of the accountancy concentration.
I read this statement differently:
“And Shmuel, there will be no “Palestinian Brandeis” because there is no need for one”
I have chills running up my neck. Palestinians constitute 20%+ of Israel’s population. The Jewish population in the States constitutes (someone please correct me if I am wrong) 3% of the population.
Here in the States we have Brandeis as well as several other Jewish Universities.
What was meant by this statement? Please please don’t tell me this is just a racist statement or a prediction that the Palestinian population of Israel will be going WAY down any time soon.
Perhaps I am not expressing myself well, it’s just that statement sent chills up my own personal neck and I would appreciate an explanation. Thank you in advance.
Because there are no quotas keeping down the number of Arab students. That’s all I meant.
Richard Silverstein says
There don’t have to be because the education offered Israeli Arabs is so inferior to that offered Jews that there is a built-in barrier preventing many of them continuing on in higher education.
Why would a strong Arab majority in a small concentration taint the entire school (not that it should make a difference anyway)? We’re talking about a dozen kids here. Neither account adds up… and the course was accounting…. Also, I always thought that Haifa WAS the “Brandeis” of Israeli Arabs.
Maybe they canceled the program because nobody paid. It is a private collage after all.
Richard Silverstein says
Not the reason offered in the transcripts by the administrators. Try again.
barbara j says
Incidentally, the story has been making the rounds for a while of the Carmel College and it turns out to be a hoax story – it was debunked in the mainstream press about 6 months back. You can contact the Carmel College itself to get its side.
Richard Silverstein says
The hasbara brigade strikes again. If you’d bother to read the Channel 2 website which is linked you’d see that they story was reported on May 24th, 3 1/2 months ago. It was not a hoax & you’ve provided no evidence that it is. If you have evidence that it is I’d be delighted for you to present it. That is real…evidence. And vacant claims, which is what you have presented here.
First of all linked to channel 10, not channel 2. You can tell because the number 10 is written in the upper left upper corner of the screen And nowhere in the transcript does anyone say that the number of Arab students was the reason the concentration was closed. Taler says “here there was ALSO a problem”. Also? Since the recording was carefully edited in order to decieve we don’t know what he said before that. Also? In addition to what? Obviously Taler told Baranes that the reason was the small number of enrolled students and Baranes was the one to bring up the number of Arab students to trap him.
If you had read Knesset protocol I linked to you would know that 30% of the students at Carmel are Arab (50% overrepresented for those keeping tabs Robin), that the tourism concentration was also cancelled due to poor enrollment, that no Arab students had actually complained of discrimination and none were brought to the Knesset meeting by either Tibi or Baranes. That the following year 33 students enrolled for the acounting concetraion the majority of who are Arabs.
So where’s the meat?
There is no meat. Just a disgruntled academic involved in a labor dispute looking for a way to smear his former employer.
You people can argue back and forth as much as you want regarding whether the course was canceled due to funding considerations or racism, that still does not change the racist statements given by the Carmel College administration.
They were recorded saying these things, so even if they weren’t in the end the actual reasons behind the course cancellation, they still point to egregious racism. I don’t think that one could argue that they were taken out of context, because the words speak for themselves…unless you are arguing that they actually didn’t say these words…
C’mon Amir, I will enjoy seeing you argue your way out of this one.
Yalla, t’voh eem ha shtuyot shelcha…
Gil Reshef, who has no official position in the academy, said that he wants the proportion of Arabs to Jews to be similar to the proportion in the population, 20-30%. This was part of the recording that Ahmad Tibi read in the Knesset committee meeting but apparently was edited out from the channel 10 report. There is no evidence that measures were actually taken to reduce the number of Arabs studying there or to place quotas on them. In fact 30% of the students there are Arabs.