University of Haifa faculty protests snub of Nobel laureate

Executive committee declined to award honorary doctorate to economist Robert Aumann because of his political views

Professor Yisrael Robert Aumann. (Flash90)
Professor Yisrael Robert Aumann. (Flash90)

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

Haaretz reported Monday that more than 150 faculty members signed a petition in protest of the executive committee of the University of Haifa’s decision last month to deny the honorary doctorate to economist Yisrael (Robert) Aumann, who won a 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 in mid-December 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 previously have received honorary degrees.

“We the undersigned, members of the academic faculty of the University of Haifa representing all positions on the political spectrum, agree that the disqualification of Prof. Yisrael Aumann as a candidate for receiving an honorary doctorate from the University 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,” read the faculty petition.

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

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