Higher Education in Israel

Yaacov Bergman
School of Business
and the Center for Research in Rationality
The Hebrew University


Newly added

Second open letter to HU Chairman of the Board Yigal Arnon
May 19, 2004 (In English)

Presentation to HU Governor, Harvey M. Krueger, in his NY office
In English, based on similar presentaion to Knesset Education Committee
It is as valid today (June 2004) as it was when I wrote it in the Summer of 2002.

Ordered by publication date

First open letter to HU Chairman of the Board Yigal Arnon
May 26, 2003 (in Hebrew)

"Amnon and Gershon, to prevent your mistakes"
July 9, 2003 (in Hebrew)

YB's  article, "The Head is Sick Too," (Haaretz 19.10.03)
Hebrew version            English version

Real vs fake academic freedom
Reply to Deputy MALA"G Chair Yechezkel Taler's comment in Haaretz
on my article, "The Head is Sick Too,"

October 31, 2003 (in Hebrew)

Accountability at the Hebrew University
5 minute presentation at the HU Senate meeting
December 4, 2003 (mixed Hebrew and English)

Response to faculty trade union chief
December 10, 2003 (in English)

Maariv article
January 23, 2004 (in Hebrew)

"This is a Lie!"
January 24, 2004 (In English)

University organization as basis for academic excellence
Article by TAU President Emeritus Haim Ben-Shahar (in Hebrew)

YB presenting at the Maariv Conference on "Higher Education in Israel - the Revolution?" April 30, 2002

YB presented again at the Maariv Conference on Higher Education, June 15, 2003

Two Open Letters

Two open letters (click here to open or download); one to the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University, Mr Yigal Arnon;
the other, to the Rector of the Hebrew University Haim Rabinowitch

Cover for the open letters

May 26, 2003

"The universities are among the most wasteful preserves in Israel. Nothing has changed there in the last decades." So writes Mr Nehemia Strasler, the Senior Editor for Economic and Social Affairs at Haaretz, in his newspaper (16.5.03). Is this view, which seems to be held by a broad Israeli constituency, justified? The facts, unfortunately, suggest it is.

Unlike ALL the best universities in the world, the Hebrew University, like the other Israeli universities, is a jumbled Byzantine democracy. It is a
democracy in the sense that all its academic officers -- save the president -- run for office in elections (albeit by employees; not by constituents). It is jumbled in that, unlike in any other structured instrument of democracy -- as are top research universities like Princeton or the University of California -- no academic officer of the Hebrew University is subordinated to any other; not even to the president. And it is Byzantine, because, unlike a true democracy, it does not have anything resembling a free press; a major deficiency which allows concealment and intrigue to breed unchecked.

Attached to this message is an open letter (in Hebrew) that goes out to a very wide audience including the whole Hebrew University faculty and beyond, and which should help the reader to get a glimpse at the Hebrew University inner machination. This open letter discusses grave academic afflictions of the Hebrew University, which I have come to observe at close quarters. For this reason, I address my letter to Rector Haim Rabinowitch, whom the HU constitution crowns as the university academic head (Article 8). However, the letter concerns the whole Hebrew University community and the public at large, which finances the university through taxes, tuition, and donations, and which, therefore, is its ultimate owner, to whom accountability for those enormous resources is owed.

Preceding this open letter to the Rector is a short open letter to the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University, Mr. Yigal Arnon (see the same link above). That letter emphasizes to him the direct, inalienable responsibility of the HU Board of Governors to the public for the 
academic standing and quality of the university, and how this essential responsibility is scrupulously discharged by Boards of Trustees of truly distinguished universities; an example that, unfortunately, is not followed by the Hebrew University Board, as determined by the distinguished Maltz Committee in its report to the Israeli Government.

I am confident that my open letters would help kindle a discussion of the issues that I am raising within the Hebrew University as befitting an open academic community which is committed to self-improvement . I especially look forward to responses from the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University, Mr. Yigal Arnon; from Hebrew University President Menachem Magidor; form Hebrew University Rector Haim Rabinowitch; as well as form other past and present officers of the Hebrew University whose decisions and actions I discuss in my open letter.

-Yaacov Bergman

You are urged to distribute my open letter and the web-page address above to those who you feel may be interested in these issues.