A motion by two Bar-Ilan University lecturers to declare a labor dispute in protest of the government’s judicial reform program was shot down on Sunday when supporters failed to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority.
The proposal, sponsored by Professors Oren Perez and Ruth Halperin-Kaddari of the university’s law school, did, however, garner a majority of the votes, 339 to 215.
“The reason for the declaration is the moves to change Israel’s constitutional regime that are going to harm, and have already harmed, the rights and status of companies and faculty members and academic freedom,” the two academics claimed.
“We will not do this alone but as part of a collaboration with the other academic institutions,” Perez said before the vote. “Most of them have already announced that solidarity is important because each institution [alone] is weak and will have difficulty in the face of attempts to harm academic freedom.”
However, several senior lecturers expressed objections to the initiative at the Zoom meeting, a copy of which was obtained by Israel Hayom.
Professor Miriam Marcowitz-Bitton of the School of Law said that “throughout the years, the university faculty organization has worked for working conditions and for that alone.”
She added that Perez’s claims that the judicial reform would harm academic freedom were without factual basis. “There are no bills. The government does not talk about it, nor does the minister of education. It is all speculation,” she said.
Marcowitz-Bitton accused the proposals’ initiators of politicizing Bar-Ilan’s faculty organization. “That is not its role and should not be done. The university has students from all backgrounds. And students and faculty members must be protected and political opinions cannot be enforced.”
Professor Ze’ev Maghen, head of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, agreed.
“This discourse that there is only one democratic method is not true. We know that there are many communities that feel deprived and advocate a different way than Oren and Ruth. We have to say there are different opinions. We should not force our colleagues to go with one truth,” Maghen said.
Professor Zvi Mark of the Department of Literature of the Jewish People, asked, “What’s the next step? Shuttles to Kaplan?”—referring to Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, a gathering point for anti-judicial reform protests.