Piled Higher, Deeper
Israel’s new political star in education mess
I have a Ph.D. Here’s how I got it: I completed my bachelor’s degree, then my master’s, and then enrolled in a doctoral program and met all of its requirements.
This may sound obvious. It’s not, at least not in Israel, where it was revealed last week that TV star turned political hopeful Yair Lapid was admitted to Bar Ilan University’s Ph.D. program without ever having received a BA. After Haaretz broke the story, the university claimed that it had admitted Lapid to its prestigious program in commentary and culture based on “his literary and journalistic achievements.” Israel’s Council for Higher Education launched an investigation into the affair, calling Bar Ilan’s reasoning “unsatisfactory” and implying that the decision to admit Lapid, sans the appropriate credentials, contradicts the basic tenets of academia. Today the CHE ruled that Lapid’s acceptance into the program was invalid.
This may sound like a tawdry scandal. It’s not. It speaks volumes about the character of the contender most polls predict will sweep a sizable chunk of the Knesset’s seats in the next elections. It also tells you all you need to know about the state of affairs in Israel these days, when a previously respectable university is willing to bestow its highest honor on an individual not because of his scholarship but because of his celebrity.
But why am I complaining? If Lapid was admitted as a doctoral student because he was an author and a journalist, then I—an author and a journalist who already has a Ph.D.—should be appointed university president. Bar Ilan, your move.
Council for Higher Education Rejects Lapid’s PhD Acceptance [Israel National News]
Israeli university probed for accepting Lapid as doctoral student [Haaretz]
Doctoral candidate Yair Lapid accepted without B.A. [Haaretz]
Earlier: Israel’s Great White Hope