Bill by Israeli coalition MKs aims to limit university professors’ freedom of speech

The Israeli coalition is not waiting until the end of the Knesset hearings regarding the code of ethics that recently raised a storm and are already working on a bill that will affect academic institutions’ budgets based on certain remarks made by professors. “Staff members’ remarks create rifts within Israeli society,” the bill claims.
The bill is expected to raise a storm Photo Credit: 123RF/Channel 2 News

In the wake of recent statements made by Israeli university professors and the storm surrounding the ethics law, Knesset members are not waiting for the Higher Education Council’s decision regarding the issues and are already beginning to edit the council’s bill. The new version will prohibit all seditious remarks from being made at institutions for higher education.

According to the bill, while presenting academic material, a professor may not make remarks in front of students that contain or encourage any of the following: “Bringing about hatred, contempt or disloyalty to the country, government authorities or its established law; inciting or dragging the inhabitants of the country to try to achieve, in illegal ways, changes in of any matter established by law; stirring discontent or dissatisfaction among the inhabitants of the country; provoking strife and hostility between different parts of the population.”

The bill was written by MK Oded Forer of Yisrael Beiteinu and includes a sanction: Israeli Education Minister and Higher Education Council Chairman Naftali Bennett will work to decrease funds that the government provides from its annual budget to an academic institution if one or more of its professors breaks one of the aforementioned prohibitions.

“The bill is aimed at reducing remarks while presenting academic material in class against the State of Israel by staff members and professors from universities and colleges alike,” the bill reads. “Over the past few years, the instances have increased in which academic staff and officials employed by institutions that are funded by the State of Israel create statements of the kind that mortally damage the country and create rifts within Israeli society.”

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