NEW YORK (JTA) — The heads of the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors jointly condemned a law proposed by Israel’s education minister that would bar the expression of political views in classrooms.
“The ‘code of ethics’ that the government of Israel is considering for the country’s academic institutions is a threat not only to academic freedom in Israel, but to Israel’s standing as a democracy,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten and AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum in a joint statement Monday. Both Weingarten and Fichtenbaum are Jewish.
The proposed code of ethics for institutes of higher education, spearheaded by Israel’s education minister, Naftali Bennett, has spurred a fierce debate in Israel about the role of politics in the classroom. An organization of Israel’s university chiefs has rejected the code as governmental overreach.
Weingarten and Fichtenbaum’s statement noted that they oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel but believe any group has the right to free speech.
“While we have opposed efforts to boycott Israeli universities, we also oppose stifling discussion of boycott proposals,” they wrote. “No one convinces anyone of the merits of their position by preventing free speech.”