by Yair Altman
Following Israel Hayom report on Israeli academics supporting BDS, MK Oded Forer urges withholding funds from academic institutions whose lecturers support anti-Israel boycotts • Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan: Bill is step in the right direction.
In an emergency session convened by the Knesset's Education, Culture and Sports Committee Wednesday, MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) announced his plans to amend the anti-BDS law. The proposal follows Israel Hayom's report last week that Israeli academics had signed a letter encouraging the American Anthropological Association, one of the world's largest academic organizations, to boycott Israel.
The proposal would allow the head of the Council of Higher Education, who also serves as Israel's education minister, to withhold funds amounting to the salary of a lecturer who calls for a boycott on the State of Israel from academic institutions.
"Israel cannot support and budget lecturers who call for a boycott against Israel. The boycott movement is an anti-Semitic movement, and they [lecturers] cannot hide behind freedom of expression," Forer said in the particularly heated session.
Forer's proposal garnered positive remarks from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who said the proposal "is a step in the right direction, but we need to discuss the exact wording. We have set up a legal team that is looking into different ideas as to how to fight against those who call for a boycott of Israel."
Fifteen MKs were present at the assembly. MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint Arab List) had to be removed from the assembly after repeatedly being called to order.
"It's amazing to discover that the vast majority of those lecturers are active members of anti-Zionist political organizations with enormous budgets that are funded by foreign governments. This phenomenon must be stopped for the sake of the future of Israeli academia," said Matan Peleg, CEO of the right-wing organization Im Tirtzu.
The Knesset adjourned with a decision to hold an extended discussion in two weeks. Acting Committee Chairman MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) demanded action from a representative of the Council for Higher Education.
"You cannot remain on the fence," she said.
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