A group of Israeli academics, recently established under the name Academia for Equality (AfE), has embarked on building and developing a data bank, namely Recruited Academia. In addition to news items and reports collected from Israeli and foreign media outlets, the data bank features official documents and reports released by universities. AfE mainly seeks to expose false
Israeli allegations that universities in Israel are an “independent, enlightened and progressive body”. This is the central claim Israel usually cites to ward off boycott initiatives, which various academic institutions around the world have joined against Israeli universities. AfE reveals and highlights the integrated role Israeli universities play in consolidating Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory. To this avail, Israeli academic institutions closely collaborate with Israeli settlements, settlement enterprise, the army, military industries, and the “public information effort” against the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
According to Natalie Rotman, Professor of History at the University of Toronto and one of the AfE initiators, the “data bank will provide academics in Israel and around the world with the necessary and proper tools to understand how Israeli universities cooperate fully with the occupation. In line with their internationally promoted image, Israeli universities are shown as if they form a front that opposes and resists the right wing authority.” The Recruited Academia data bank will constitute what may be described as a “library for the academics abroad”. Hence, every academic can learn about the working relationship between the academic institution at which they work or teach and higher education institutes in Israel.
Items posted on the Recruited Academia data bank cover four areas: (1) international academia; (2) international funding; (3) Israeli academia; and (4) Palestinian academia. The data bank helps visitors to monitor violations of academic freedoms at Israeli universities. It allows tracking and monitoring current key trends within the Israeli academia, including institutionalised racism against Palestinian students at Israeli universities and colleges. It also sheds light on the proliferating “special programmes and courses”, which various Israeli universities offer to Israeli military and security personnel “oftentimes, by allowing a serious reduction of academic criteria and requirements.”
Palestinian Academia provides a documentation of Israeli military raids into Palestinian higher education institutions across the West Bank, including arrests of Palestinian students and teaching staff. This section also monitors severe movement restrictions imposed on students in the Gaza Strip. Many articles, documents and reports highlight the absolute silence of Israeli senior academics and presidents of universities on the persecution of their Palestinian peers.