Sep 28, 2006 4:11 pm


With the academic left joining Islamist offensive against free academic exchange of ideas, Bar Ilan university opened a unique book exhibit entitled “Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom.” The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB), Bar Ilan University press release reads:

The exhibition includes books that deal with academic freedom, freedom of speech and censorship from several countries, in a variety of languages and from different disciplines. Discussions concerning academic freedom include issues in South Africa, in the world after 9/11, in religious universities, the Arab world, Christianity and Islam, the USA during the Vietnam War, France, Britain, Iran and much more. A unique exhibit includes Hebrew books censored by Christians, from BIU’s vast Rabbinics collection, printed during the 16th and 17th centuries. One can view deleted lines on the pages and learn about censorship’s evolution. . . .

In the exhibitions opening ceremony last week, Prof. Yosef Yeshurun, BIU Rector and IAB chair, described the triangular relationship between academic freedom, censorship and terror. Yeshurun said that “Global terror in general, and terror acts directed to Israel in particular, have many forms: They may be directed to harm the soul, but at times they may try to hurt the academic abilities, which are one of the most important guarantees of a country's strength.”

Yeshurun detailed the IAB’s activities in defense of academic freedom and against academic boycotts worldwide, affirming that “silencing scientific arguments by claiming they are political ones may harm the free exchange of ideas that are essential for the development of science; therefore, a boycott on an academic institution and censorship are one”. Yeshurun added that “this exhibition leaves the impression that the boycott weapon has already been used against the Jewish people for hundreds of years”. Yeshurun announced that the IAB’s first book on academic freedom and boycotts is soon to join the hundreds of books included in the exhibition. The book is based on the proceedings of the IAB’s first annual international conference (January, 2006), that received wide recognition and in which outstanding scholars and figures participated.

Yeshurun concluded his speech by emphasizing the importance of the IAB’s future activities in defense of academic freedom : “This exhibition reminds us that even if censorship, as we knew it, ceased to exist, its spirit is yet to stay; for the sake of mankind and scientific research - we must continue vigilance, making sure such phenomena do not repeat themselves”.

Exhibition book-list and photo’s are available here.

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