Rightist Philosophy Lecturer Dismissed by Hebrew University
The Philosophy department at the Hebrew University recently dismissed Ran Baratz, a lecturer on Greek philosophy. And ever since, the Israeli media has been in a mini-uproar. The Knesset’s Education Committee will take up the affair. According to Maariv and other publications, Baratz was let go because he violated the leftist academic code prevailing in Israeli academic institutions. Here’s how Maariv breathlessly portrayed Baratz’s “sacking (Hebrew):”
Stormy winds are blowing through the humanities faculty of the Hebrew University after it ended the employment of a popular lecturer. Dr. Ran Baratz will not return for the coming academic year due to his affiliation with the right-side of the political map…
If you’re right-wing, so the prevailing wisdom goes, you have no hope of a career or academic advancement in Israel.
Let’s examine the facts more closely. According to a senior faculty member at a major Israeli university who has some familiarity with the case, Baratz taught there as what here in the U.S. would be called an adjunct. He had a temporary low-level appointment (what is called in Hebrew amit-hora’ah); such appointments are always short-term (usually one year, but in Baratz’s case it was only one semester) and may or may not be renewed, depending on budget and such things. There’s always considerable flux with these adjunct appointments, especially since the budgets keep shrinking.
Baratz hoped his teaching gig would turn into a tenure-track position. However, a very fine candidate applied, with a strong CV, good list of publications, and was appointed. Baratz himself had no publications and was in no position to compete.
Casting further doubt on Baratz’s claim, the Hebrew University faculty of humanities is not noted for its solidarity with the left and the peace camp.
We should also examine whether Baratz may have his own personal motives for turning this into an ideological, rather than a purely professional decision. First, he is the “academic advisor” to Im Tirzu, a foul Israeli smear outfit whose goal is to act as mashgiach (a rabbi who determines whether food is kosher) for Israeli professors and their courses according to the level of Zionist kashrut they represent. The group recently published a strange report which claimed to examine the course syllabi for academic courses for the Zionist or anti-Zionist content of the articles. Naturally, it found a very high level of the latter in Israeli courses. And guess who was the academic advisor for this “report?” The good doctor Baratz.
He is also a regular contributor to Yisrael HaYom, a daily paper also known as Bibi-ton for its slavish adulation of the current prime minister.
He is also a post-doctoral fellow at the Likudist Shalem Center. The Center has created Shalem College, a faux academic program which aims to glorify the place of Israel and Zionism in the western academic canon. Here is what I wrote about this subject a few months ago:
Concerned that Israeli universities are a hotbed of Israel-hatred and unwilling to develop a ideological cadre of sufficiently pro-Israel students, the Center has applied to the Israeli educational authority for approval to launch its own rightist undergraduate program, Shalem College.
The college’s own mission statement lays out its curricular goals–among them to give:
Expanded attention to Western texts and traditions that permit a more fruitful dialogue with Jewish tradition. The college will relate to a wider selection of Western traditions than has become fashionable in many leading universities, including: treatment of the tradition of Western nation states as a legitimate alternative to expressly internationalist goals and values…
No doubt, someone of Baratz’s ideological proclivities would be much more comfortable in this academic setting than at the Hebrew University, where he would have to grapple with some of the “expressly internationalist goals and values.”
8 thoughts on “Rightist Philosophy Lecturer Dismissed by Hebrew University – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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I think your argument is conditioned upon Baratz having no publications and other candidates being better qualified. Can you provide a link?
Regarding his “extra-curricular” activities, no matter how offensive they seem to us progressives, I think they should not play a role in appointment decisions. This includes even his McCarthyist assistance to the hounding of other academics (which goes beyond anything I’ve done. I just expressed my opinions which some people didn’t like).
Academic departments, and especially philosophy, are supposed to be diverse exactly in that respect. If Baratz was the best candidate, I say, then bring him on. Let him face hard questions from his colleagues and from progressive students of philosophy, I’m sure that some outspoken ones can be found. Let the debate take place inside the university, not just on the media.
However, if Baratz had no publications and is just out to confuse and confound the shallow Israeli media to create yet another false narrative, that is a different matter.
You can see his vitae at the Shalem Ctr. link. I agree that it isn’t terribly impressive. No books (just a PhD disseration which doesn’t appear to be published as a book. One article under consideration for publication & a few articles which don’t appear to be in academic or peer reviewed publications:
Yes, you are right. No refereed publications to date. Given the dearth of positions in humanities in Israel and the amount of good young researchers waiting for such positions, it is highly plausible they found a far more qualified candidate than Baratz.
In other words, he’s trying to do here an “Israel David trick” in reverse: just like David bullied BGU into viewing my candidacy as toxic via the media, Baratz is trying to bully HUJI into viewing not accepting him as toxic via the media.
And both are leveraging the witch-hunt public atmosphere, while supposedly providing false “evidence” of how the Israeli academia is dominated by the left.
Adjunct teaching employment is at-will. No reason need be given for non-renewal. In most cases it is assumed that adjunct teaching is close-ended, not ongoing. If Baratz is so desirable then Shalem should snap him up. If this is a fake victim ploy, then Baratz’ career is toast.
It’s “fake victim” all the way. My well-placed source confirms this.
after reading this article of Elhanan Yekira on this case, a proffessor in the philosophy faculty in Jerusalem who wrote a whole book about how non-zionist Israelis are Antisemites, one can probably be sure that the whole story is really a sad joke.
here is the article in Hebrew
Are you for real?
1. don’t you notice that Yakira says that Baratz’ contract was not renewed already last year too, and he admits that it was a wrongdoing? this seems to be a chain of similar events.
2. can’t you see the hostility of this Yakira guy? Baratz is extreme right, the students are extreme left, he speaks about “real bastards” that he wants to fight, and you expect me to believe that this is kosher?
3. from just reading the English, you probably don’t realize that this whole story is a students fight to keep their best teacher, not as a tenure track professor but as a teaching fellow.
4. I’m pretty sure that if Baratz was the best teacher in the department, but instead of a right wing person who was sacked he was an Ethiopian, or an arab female, you would have sounded different. this is hypocrisy.
For your information, Yakira is a known Israeli hawk & neocon. So he SHOULD sympathize with Baratz’s efforts, but doesn’t.
Being “pretty sure” of the outcome of a hypothetical event means precisely nothing. If someone holding a temporary apptmt is let go & given a chance to apply for a permanent job that another superior candidate is chosen for instead, I’d have no problem w. that. And indeed that’s what happened in this case.