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Jewish Journal

U. of Haifa profs slam withholding honorary doctorate over politics

JTA

January 10, 2014 | 1:45 pm

University of Haifa faculty members protested the university’s decision not to award an honorary doctorate to a Nobel Prize-winning Israeli economist over his right-wing political views.

More than 150 faculty members signed a petition against the decision by the university’s Executive Committee to deny the honor to Robert Aumann, Haaretz reported. Aumann won the Nobel Prize in 2005 for his work on game theory.

In a 2010 interview, Aumann called for a separation between Jews and Arabs as well as for Jerusalem to remain Jewish.

The Executive Committee decided last month not to award the honorary doctorate to Aumann, as his views “[do] not express the value system of the University of Haifa,” an unnamed committee member told Haaretz. Other Israeli Nobel Prize winners have received honorary degrees.

The University of Haifa has a high percentage of Arab-Israeli students and is considered Israel’s most left-wing university.

The petition notes that the Haifa faculty represents all positions on the political spectrum and that the disqualification of Aumann as a candidate to receive an honorary doctorate “is embarrassing and has done enormous damage to the university’s image and public standing.”

“We believe that the university’s Executive Committee exceeded its authority when it deemed it proper to explain this invalidation and to justify it retroactively by citing Prof. Aumann’s political opinions, relying on certain statements he made in response to a reporter’s question in an interview,” it reads.

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