Wednesday, November 30, 2011

IMRA - Haaretz reporting bias

Quotes critic of report against BGU without mentioning she founder of Peace Now

Dr. Aaron Lerner
29 November '11

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:

Question: If a founder of Gush Emunim criticized a report for being prejudiced against the national camp, would the Haaretz article covering the story mention the connection to Gush Emunim?

Of course. And that would be proper.

So here we have Prof. Galia Golan, a founder of of the radical left Peace Now, criticizing a report that slammed the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Politics and Government Department for pushing a radical left agenda.

And not a word about Prof. Golan's past.



Education body to vote on report on 'slanted' BGU faculty
Panel member admits criticism in report may also have been political.

By Talila Nesher
Haaretz 01:12 29.11.11

The Council for Higher Education is set to vote Tuesday to ratify the external report it commissioned on the political science faculties at Israel's universities, including Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Politics and Government Department, which came under heavy criticism. The document lists a series of shortcomings at Ben-Gurion University and even advises, as a last resort, closing down the department entirely if the problems are not resolved.

The report also refers to the fact that students at the Ben-Gurion University department are exposed to the personal political opinions of their professors, noting: "Lecturers must ensure that their personal opinions are presented as such, so that the students can judge things from a critical perspective and be exposed to a wide range of perspectives and alternatives."

Further to claims by members of the teaching staff at Ben-Gurion's Politics and Government Department that the committee's work was motivated by political considerations, committee member Prof. Galia Golan, from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, has told Haaretz that the shortcomings exposed at the Negev institution may indeed have been politically biased.

"I felt that some of the committee members, with specific political opinions, were trying to find fault with the place," Golan said. "I don't know if these were instructions from above, but I felt that things were not being conducted fairly."

According to Golan, the same supposed shortcomings that were revealed at Ben-Gurion University weren't even mentioned in the reports on the other institutions, "because they weren't perceived as problematic."

Golan said that "with regard to Ben-Gurion University, [committee] members tended to ignore the positive things and underplay their significance.

"My efforts to convince the committee otherwise came to naught," she added. "The attitude toward the university was unlike the attitude elsewhere."

Golan, who refused to sign the section of the report dealing with the Ben-Gurion University department, also recently sent a letter to the Council for Higher Education warning of the document's lack of fairness and urging that the matter be considered before the conclusions are adopted.

"Distinct political opinions influenced the judgment of some of the [committee] members," Golan told Haaretz. "The chairman of the committee actually tried to be as neutral as possible; but in the end, people were guided by a political approach."

According to Prof. David Newman, the dean of Ben-Gurion's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and one of the founders of its Politics and Government Department, "The department has become a target for attack by all those who wish to suppress any pluralist dialogue and trample every piece of academic freedom. One brief glance at this activity is enough to grasp the inherent danger it poses for the existence of Israeli democracy."

A statement from the Council for Higher Education said: "We totally reject the claim of political considerations ... The evaluation committee is made up of experienced individuals of academic renown in Israel and abroad. The assessment of the Political Science Department at Ben-Gurion University was conducted in the same manner in which the other institutions were assessed.

"The committee, which carried out an independent assessment, was of the opinion that the Ben-Gurion University department is acutely lacking senior staff at the core of the field, and that this requires immediate rectification."

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