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Red Rag column - the Code of Ethics
Red Rag 13 June 2017 (English translation 30 June 2017)

There is a limit to the code [1]

Who said the following words: “I am definitely in favour of students and lecturers holding discussions on various political subjects. For after all, as academics, and in some cases as intellectuals, they are able, and it is their role, and in certain cases their duty, to concern themselves with such ideas, to draw the conclusions that follow from them, and to point out to others those conclusions”?

You will not believe it – it was a young lecturer, a philosophy professor called Asa Kasher, and the words were said during his period of enlightenment, in an interview with the newspaper Student, in February 1982.
That same Asa Kasher, fondly remembered from the period before his ideological transformation, supported the refusers of Yesh Gvul, and was seen as the archetypical student of Yeshayahu Leibowitz. My partner relates that in the 1970s she participated in a logic course taught by Asa Kasher at Tel Aviv University, and part of his popularity stemmed from the fact that he spiced his speech with current political examples.

What happened between then and 2017 to that man, who has become Education Minister “Benito”’s court philosopher and drafted the dangerous instrument for silencing dissent known as a “code of ethics”? Mental-health specialists may have the answer.

The 2017-model Asa Kasher bars lecturers from expressing themselves on controversial political subjects in their classes, thereby snuffing the life out of the spirit of the academy, the life-breath of which is free discussion of controversial subjects. According to Asa Kasher, it is forbidden for a lecturer to tell his students that the denial of human rights to the Palestinian people by an Israeli military dictatorship contravenes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 as one of the lessons from the Nazi regime.

In more normal times, I would have had no doubt that the Israeli Council for Higher Education would have unanimously rejected this shameful ethics code. But in the depraved era of the Benito and Regev government, anything is possible. It is to be hoped that refusers of this unethical code will emerge from the academic community, just as the members of Yesh Gvul refused and still refuse to take part in the code of ethics Asa Kasher drafted for the army.

Translator’s note

1. There is a pun in the title, because the name of the Israeli anti-war and anti-Occupation organization “Yesh Gvul” literally means “there is a limit” as well as “there is a border”.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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