Israeli Affairs (Issue no. 53)

academic institutions, knowledge and politics in Israel.

  • Author: Adi Ophir, Rivka Feldhay, Muhannad Mustafa, Eyal Chowers, Ami Wollensky, Wadee’ Awawdeh, Udi Adiv, Salim Abu Jabal, Oren Yiftachel, Raef Zureiq, Salim Salameh,
  • Editor: Antoine Shalhat, Honida Ghanem, Raef Zureik
  • Number of Pages: 130
  • ISBN: 978-9950-330-94-8
  • Date of update: Monday, 28 April 2014
  • Price: $0.00


This issue of the Israeli Affairs Journal focuses on academic institutions, knowledge and politics in Israel.

The issue questions the relationship between reality and authority, power and knowledge, and politics and science. It incorporates six articles, of which four

examine the intricate relation between knowledge, critical thinking and the hegemonic national discourse in Israel, and underline the escalating tension between the intellectual and ideological viewpoints in Israeli universities. In addition, themed articles explore privatization of Israeli universities and the impact of the social rule on Israeli universities. The national and ideological role of the Hebrew university in reviving the Hebrew language and state building is also discussed. A special report on mapping Israeli universities and their contributions to the Israeli culture is included in this issue.

One exclusive and in-depth interview is featured in this issue, with Oren Yiftachel, an Israeli professor, and lecturer in political geography and urban planning and public policy at Ben-Gurion University of the Naqab in Beersabe’. He is considered one of the most prominent post-Zionists' critics in Israel.

The current issue also presents two articles entitled "Post-Zionism Critique" and "Ideology and War Films in Israeli Cinema”. In addition, two critical books’ reviews are presented in this issue. The first one is a critical review to Eyal Chowers’s book entitled “Political Philosophy of Zionism”. The second review is to a book entitled “Perfidy” by Ben Hecht.

Finally, the Zionist archive section of this issue features an exclusive translation and summary of a book entitled “Academia in a Changing Environment – Higher Education Policies in Israel (1952-2004)” by Ami Volinski.


Adi Ophir, The Israeli academia and political unconsciousness
Even without a scientific opinion poll, the author argues it can be said that all those who hold central positions at research universities, as well as most researchers, in Israel view themselves as being committed to building of the “Zionist nation” project. They do not see any anomaly between this and their commitment to academic research. Accordingly, these senior officials and researchers illustrate the condition of political entry into the academic field. This requirement revokes or excludes the political character of academic activity as long as it is aligned with key principles of the Zionist project in line with its currently dominant interpretation and significance. As such, the said condition endows a political character on all other matters.

Rivka Feldhay, The fragile border between the political and the academic
This article provides a critical review of debates over the Law on the Council for Higher Education during the 1950s. Feldhay stresses that the review is a good starting point to contemplate the considerations, dilemmas and criteria, which have laid the foundation for governing the relationship between the academic and the political authority in Israel.

Muhannad Mustafa, The Israeli academic institution between privatisation and government neoliberal approaches
Generated by the prevalent neoliberal discourse within the Israeli academic institution and centre of government, this article addresses certain aspects of the consequences of privatising the Israeli higher education sector. Mustafa argues that privatisation of the academic institution has not been complete yet, but it will also see new processes. The neoliberal discourse which dominates the academic scene provides the grounds for these consequences.

Eyal Chowers, The Hebrew University: Language and violence in early Zionism
This article investigates the dialectical relationship between the transformation of Jews into a group that resorts to violence and the revival of language in early Zionism. Chowers explores the environment which accompanied what he calls the “Zionist revolution”, particularly in the course of establishing the Hebrew University. The author reviews the debates between intellectuals in the process of reviving the Hebrew language. Highlighting critiques and failures, Chowers also pays special attention to the debate over the “goals” and spirit of the language to be revived.

Ami Wollensky, Disputes over development of the Law on the Council for Higher Education (From the Archive)
This translated article reviews the process of developing and finalising the Draft Law on the Council for Higher Education. Following eight consecutive years, the Knesset approved the final version of the Draft Law in 1958. Over these years, government and parliamentary activity uncovers an deep, sharp dispute between the government and Knesset members. At the heart of this debate was the government’s unwavering pursuit to submit higher education to government control through a binding law. The government’s slogan “To serve the people and the state” implies an administrative, financial and scientific manipulation of higher education institutions as well as suppression of academic freedoms. Ultimately, the government had to decline its main intentions and approaches.

Wadee’ Awawdeh, Higher education in Israel - Between universities and colleges
In this special report on universities and colleges in Israel, Awawdeh asserts among other things that universities are defined as research universities because they receive research and development budgets. Universities also provide higher education and instruction. In Israel, seven institutions are known as research universities: the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Tel Aviv University; Bar-Ilan University; Haifa University; Ben-Gurion University; Technion - Israel Institute of Technology; and Weizmann Institute of Science. An eighth university - the Ariel University - was recognised in 2013. Although it continues to be a subject of debate within academic circles, Ariel University is on the list of Israeli research universities posted on the Council for Higher Education’ webpage. The Open University is not categorised as a research university.

Udi Adiv, Post-Zionist critique: The negative dialectic
In this long article, Israeli sociologist Udi Adiv reviews post-Zionist publications over the past decades. These share a critique of the research perspective, which consciously or unconsciously adopted hypotheses of the Zionist institution and then the State. Despite the fact that he is not the first critic of the post-Zionist perspective, Adiv’s writings are significant in light of his affiliation with left-oriented critical currents. Secondly, Adiv paid the price for his critical positions.

Salim Abu Jabal, Ideology and war movies in the Israeli cinema
This article analyses the role the Israeli cinema played to gain sympathy and win the public opinion in Israel and around the world to the advantage of the Zionist idea. According to Abu Jabal, in 1960, founder of the State and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion realised how important the cinema was to win sympathy of international public opinion after Hollywood premiered Exodus. Having also won the Oscar, the movie brought sympathy and a flow of donations to Israel. Surprised as he was, Ben-Gurion was convinced of the cinema’s influence and significance. Ben-Gurion also noticed that movies would expedite melting Sephardic Jews into the Israeli society. As these did not speak Yiddish, Hebrew in the cinema would bring Sephardic Jews closer to other Jews, including old and new emigrants.

Special Interview
Oren Yiftachel, professor of political geography at the Beersheba University and city planning expert, Self-definition of Israel is a significant issue, but it does

not concern Palestinians! (by Antoine Shulhut and Bilal Dhaher)

Professor Oren Yiftachel is one of the most prominent post-Zionist critics of all university professors in Israel. The Israeli Forum for Israeli Studies (MADAR) published his Ethnocracy: Policies of Land and Identity in Israel / Palestine. In this publication, Yiftachel provides an inclusive definition of ethnocratic system and explains respective applications in Israel on all levels. In this interview, Yiftachel reviews findings of his book and shows how these can be used to overcome the current Israeli situation.

Raef Zureiq, Post-Zionist thinking in its European context
A critical preview of Israeli university professor Eyal Chowers’ Political Philosophy of Zionism. Chowers positions the history of Zionist thought within its European context, explains how affected it was by intellectual currents in Europe, and highlights its specificity in comparison to these currents.

Salim Salameh, The Holocaust was impossible without a Jewish fifth column
A preview of Ben Hecht’s Treason. Hecht addresses the role leaders of the World Zionism and “Hebrew Yishuv” played in close cooperation with Nazism. These complied with and implemented the British will and dictations as a price to achieve their avarice of establishing a Jewish state on the “Land of Israel” (Eretz Yisrael). This state would assimilate “strong Jews”, rather than “weak Jews”.

Library: A synopsis of most recent Israeli publications

Title Download
عادي أوفير - الأكاديميا الإسرائيلية واللاوعي السياسي Download Preview
ريفكا فيلدحاي - الحدود الهشّة بين السياسي والأكاديمي Download Preview
مهند مصطفى - المؤسسة الأكاديمية الإسرائيلية بين الخصخصة والتوجهات النيو ليبرالية الحكومية Download Preview
إيال خوبرز - الجامعة العبرية: اللغة والعنف في الصهيونية المُبكِّرة Download Preview
عامي فولانسكي - الصراعات التي رافقت إعداد قانون مجلس التعليم العالي (من الأرشيف) Download Preview
وديع عواودة - التعليم العالي في إسرائيل- بين الجامعات والكليات Download Preview
أودي أديب - النقد الما بعد صهيوني: الديالكتيك السالب Download Preview
سليم أبو جبل - أفلام الأيديولوجيا والحرب في السينما الإسرائيلية Download Preview
مع أستاذ الجغرافيا السياسية في جامعة بئر السبع والخبير في تخطيط المدن أورن يفتحئيل: التعريف الذاتي لإسرائيل مسألة مهمة لكنها لا تخص الفلسطينيين! (أجرى المقابلة: أنطوان شلحت وبلال ضـاهـر) Download Preview
رائف زريق - الفكر الصهيوني ضمن سياقه الأوروبي Download Preview
سليم سلامة - لم يكن الهولوكوست ممكنا بدون طابورٍ خامسٍ يهودي! Download Preview

Saturday, October 23, 2021


The Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies (MADAR) is an independent research centre specialising in Israeli affairs, based in Ramallah, Palestine. MADAR was established in 2000 by a group of Palestinian intellectuals and academics, including the late poet Mahmoud Darwish, Dr. Lily Feidy, Dr. Ali Jarbawi, Dr. Ahmad Harb, Mr. Walid Al-Ahmad and Mr. Akram Haniyyeh. The centre was registered as a not-for-profit organisation with the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, and obtained a research centre’s operational licensing from the Palestinian Ministry of Information.