Israel’s Ambassador Criticizes the University

Israel’s Ambassador Criticizes the University

- in News
@Carl-Johan Kullving

A course at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies has received complaints – from the Israeli ambassador.

Photo caption: Vice-Chancellor Torbjörn von Schantz is criticized by Israeli ambassador Isaac Bachman for an overly one-sided course. Photo: Dimitris Kalandranis
Photo caption: Vice-Chancellor Torbjörn von Schantz is criticized by Israeli ambassador Isaac Bachman for an overly one-sided course.
Photo: Dimitris Kalandranis

The course MOSA20 Israeli-Palestine Conflict: History, Development and Alternative Solutions has received heavy criticism by Israeli ambassador Isaac Bachman.

A student taking the course at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies cautioned Lund University that the course was too one-sided, without gaining a hearing. The student then informed Israel’s ambassador of the content of the course.

“The course curriculum is obviously partial and one-sided, with no room given to Israeli perspectives while the most anti-Israel views are presented to the student”, the ambassador writes in a letter to the Vice-Chancellor Torbjörn von Schantz.

The ambassador allegedly showed the course syllabus to several Middle Eastern researchers who agree that it is one-sided.

Measures promised
The ambassador pointed out that the student asked the University to revise the course content.

“The concerned student was promised corrective measures to introduce some balance in the course and to be informed of the University’s conclusions concerning the issues that he has raised. None of this has happened and the course is now approaching its end.” writes the ambassador in a letter to Vice-Chancellor Torbjörn von Schantz.

“I understand the ambassador’s concern”
Vice-Chancellor Torbjörn von Schantz has read the letter, and the University is now preparing a response.

“I believe that it is a justified concern that the ambassador has raised and the Director of the Center, Leif Stenberg, will compose a statement for this issue and propose measures. So hopefully the ambassador will have an answer as soon as possible”, Vice-Chancellor Torbjörn von Schantz says.

“I understand the ambassador’s concern”, he continues.
How does this affect the University’s relations and exchange agreements with Israel?
“If there is anything to the criticism, it could affect the relations, and then we will look at which measures to take. But one has to remember that the ambassador himself has not studied the course”, he says.

No increased understanding
In the letter the ambassador also emphasized that the course content goes against basic academic tradition.

“Of course, such a one-sided approach to one of the most central issues of international politics is conductive neither to academic understanding nor for that matter to any increased understanding between the parties. It also goes against the most fundamental traditions of academic fairness and open-minded intellectual debate”, the ambassador writes in his letter to the Vice-Chancellor. 

Text: Carl-Johan Kullving
Translation: Lina Johansson

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