13 thoughts on “Israel and a Tale of Two Campuses – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. The Salaita case is at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, the flagship campus, not UIC. And the department was Native American studies, not American studies.

  2. Sayed Kashua is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, and though he’s often been viewed as the “good Arab”, I’m sure he has many things to say about being a Palestinian in Israel, especially since he left Israel this summer with the decision not to go back, or if he goes back, to settle down in the “Arab” sector.
    This article in Haaretz by Sayed Kashua on his leaving is very powerful, I do admit I’ve changed my mind about him, I’ve read his books, I love them but I’ve always felt he wanted to ‘please’ the Jewish audience. I misjudged him, he only tried very hard to ‘integrate’. and he realized he failed, that ….. no, I’m not going to tell the point. Do read the article, and particularly his daughter’s reaction when he goes to see her in her room. Every Jewish Israeli should read that, and think about it ….
    “Why Sayed Kashua is leaving Jerusalem and never coming back”: http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/weekend/.premium-1.602869

  3. There is often the misconception that “academic freedom” is best served by institutions that are at least semi-independent from the state. Well, it depends on what type of state one is dealing with. If the alternative is between funding and regulation by a modern social-democratic state (yes I am thinking of the Netherlands) or funding by private donors, some of whom are of the most unsavoury type (yes I am thinking of a character like Sheldon Adelson), I know where to look for academic freedom.

    In the Netherlands most university teachers are (shock horror) “civil servants”. Yes, but that means that they are also protected by civil service regulations, by civil service unions and by a civil service court when they get into trouble with senior administrators. Moreover, in a country with proportional representation and coalition governments it is almost impossible for any one political party to try and influence the curriculum.

    I have taught in three different countries (Scotland, the Netherlands and Australia) and only in The Netherlands I have felt what it is like to be among colleagues in an academic democracy (though the Scottish place had again a more democratic atmosphere than the Australian one). In the heady days of the “student revolutions”, in the late sixties, when French students adopted as one of their slogans “soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible”, it appeared indeed to be impossible to achieve reform of the university’s internal administration in a place like Britain. Reform had to be induced from outside, for instance (as in Germany and The Netherlands) by parliament. Where institutions were semi-independent those at the top of the heap were not going to voluntarily let go of some of their power.

    Looking at the US: a person like John Silber, president of Boston University for a quarter of a century, and by most descriptions a complete autocrat, would have been impossible in a more collegial academic set up and would certainly not have been party to a reform diminishing his power.

    See for this figure, who makes me hot under the collar merely by reading about him:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1980/jun/12/academic-freedom-at-bu/

    Yes, he was lauded by the Wall Street Journal at his demise – a “testimonium paupertatis” as far as I am concerned.

    The Salaita case is of course a more recent example of chancellorial autocracy.

    In my time in Australia I witnessed how diminishing government grants and increasing dependence on private funding made the university I happened to be teaching at assume a more and more corporate character with an increasing importance of the administration vis a vis faculty. The “University Council”, largely consisting of outsiders who generally didn’t have a clue to what was going on, mainly served to rubberstamp the decisions of the Vice Chancellor.

    What holds for Universities holds for so-called think tanks. Under the influence of private donors they can turn into institutions with an Orwellian character. What to think, for instance, of the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies which had as one of its main donors … Sheldon Adelson who has recently made it clear that he doesn’t care a hoot about democracy (it is true, he dragged God into his argument, an entity he presumably cares even less about). Incidentally, it was a fellow of this institution, Benjamin Weinthal, who recently defended democracy by smearing Max Blumenthal in the Berliner Morgenpost.

    I fear that the plutocratic character of US institutions (in government, academe and press) make it very unlikely that freedom and democracy are in good hands there. Its “thieves union” with that robber state on the Mediterranean makes matters worse.

    1. I think the $64,000 question is ‘what do academics and journalists really know about conflict resolution’?
      Can they offer any practical solutions to the I/P conflict?

      To both these questions, I answer, ‘no’. I’d even proffer the notion that academics and journalists are handicapped in terms of conflict resolution.

      If you want to see a conflict fairly and wisely resolved, than ask ‘blue collar’ workers for solutions. You’d by surprised what their ‘fresh eyes’ can see.

      1. I don’t see the point of your comment. Why don’t you give some examples of what blue collar workers’ ‘fresh eyes’ can see, in your opinion. Maybe that would clear things up.

        1. Blue collar, and other working class people, have more conflicts, so are more adept at conflict resolution.
          Blue collars have to deal with competitors, co-workers, sub contractors, supervisors, law enforcement, department chiefs, pedestrians, suppliers, etc. They have to deal with problems of supply and demand, pricing, inventory, sub par work, defective products, liens, petty theft, transportation, deadlines, etc.

          More conflict, more conflict resolution skills.

          Ask ‘an average Joe’ how to resolve the I/P conflict and see what he has to say.

          1. @ Vita: This is no more observant than your previous narisch contributions. There are working class folk excellent at conflict resolution, generals good at it, & professors as well. There’s simply no way to generalize as you do. But don’t let that stop you. Common sense never does.

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