"BaShaar – Academic Community for Israeli Society” is a registered non-profit organization, established in 1999 by senior faculty members from all institutions of higher education in Israel. BaShaar is a non-political organization that operates outside any political framework.

Members of BaShaar share the conviction that a hundred and twenty years of modern Zionism and over 70 years of Jewish Statehood have yielded a high-level network of institutional, social, and cultural activities and outstanding educational, scientific, commercial, and industrial enterprises, upon which rest the very survival of the State of Israel.

All that has been achieved to date can continue to flourish only in an open, tolerant society at peace with itself and with its surroundings, a society where rational and democratic discourse prevails in the search for viable alternatives and modes of action. A critical component of such a society is a strong, independent, autonomous higher education system granted full academic freedom, yet closely connected with society at large.

The academia is one of the pillars of a liberal-democratic and secular society. Academic values and ethos are deeply connected and firmly rooted in such a society. There is no viable academia and no leading scientific research without liberal democracy. Protecting academia and its values is therefore inseparable from the struggle for liberal democracy and rational thinking. BaShaar’s mission is to instill these values in society at large, alert and fight against any actions which undermine these values.


BaShaar’s goals are:

1.   Promoting rational thinking based of facts, according to scientific methodologies, as well as liberal and universal values, and the values of Israel’s heritage, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence all of which are part of the academic values.

2.   Defending academic values and ethos and promoting them in society at large, especially among the younger generations.

3.  Promoting scientific achievements and scientific thinking and making it accessible to Israeli society, particularly to youth in the periphery.

The values and ethos of the academia, which are based on academic freedom and include freedom of research and speech, openness to new ideas, tolerance, equality, pluralism, rationality, critical thinking, open discussions based on scientific facts and methodologies, are all intertwined and can flourish only in a liberal democratic society. It is therefore not surprising that academia is one of the first targets of any autocratic non-democratic regime.

There is no dispute over the enormous importance of higher education and scientific research and the need to safeguard them. BaShaar is the only independent organization whose raison d'être is to confront potential threats, safeguard academic values and fight for them. Furthermore, BaShaar aspires to spread and instill liberal values, as well raise awareness among the general public about the achievements of scientific research and its implications and contributions to society.


BaShaar realizes its goals through two main channels of activity:

1.    Addressing Policy, Governance and Public issues – Identifying and monitoring issues related to the higher education system, addressing upcoming and potential threats, and bringing them up for open, critical and extensive discussion among BaShaar's academic experts, as well as other stakeholders and key figures. BaShaar holds conferences and events and publishes position papers and reports addressing core issues and alerting to threats confronting higher education and scientific research. These can help decision-makers and policy-makers hold informed discussions on higher education issues with insights from the top experts in these fields. BaShaar is also committed to providing rapid responses to ad-hoc issues pertaining to the higher education system and its core values. This is of particular importance nowadays in view of the current crisis in Israel. In the past year, due to the so- called “judicial reform”, many non-democratic bills and statements were presented by members of the government, some of which are directed at academia. Consequently, our activities in this channel have focused on their disastrous implications for higher education and scientific research. Many of the threats faced by academia also pose a threat to liberal democracy. We issued several open letters addressing these threats. We also mobilize leading scientists and scholars from around the world to address the upcoming dangers.

Activities in this channel include:

The Forum for Higher Education – BaShaar’s Platform for Critical Discussions and free debates and exchange of ideas, in cooperation with ad-hoc partners. The forum focuses on core issues and challenges faced by the Israeli higher education system. The forum’s discussions concern matters at the interface between the higher education system, the public and the government, including policy-making, regulatory and governance issues.

Position Papers – On ad-hoc issues. For example, vis-à-vis the anti-democratic revolution in Israel, we have published a series of position papers on various issues related to the current struggle, which were discussed in the media. We were the first academic organization to publish a call to preserve the values of liberal democracy in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence as early as December 2022.

Meetings with Policy Makers – BaShaar holds meetings with government officials to raise and promote issues that concern the higher education system and provide those policy-makers with insights from the academia.

A Hotline for Safeguarding Academic Freedom – Today, more than ever, the higher education system in Israel is subject to external and internal pressures that threaten its independence and resilience. Through the hotline, we are working to prevent violations of academic values, academic freedom and institutional autonomy. The hotline servers all members of the academic community in all the institutions of higher education in Israel: academic and administrative faculty members and students.

BaShaar-Academia-Israel Network – Academic activity designed to empower the academic community and academic citizenship. The network is intended for academics at all levels. It enables cross-institutional dialogue between its members for discussing current and academic issues. The Network operates through two channels: email and a Facebook group, each with over 7000 members.

The Struggle for Democracy – In line with BaShaar’s goals, we take an active part in the struggle to preserve the values of liberal democracy in Israel. We participated in the rallies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, were interviewed by the media, developed and maintain a sub-website dedicated to the academia's struggle for democracy in Israel, where one can follow its activities in the protest movement. We cooperate with the “No Democracy No Academia” headquarters and we host the Israeli Law Professors’ Forum for Democracy which operates administratively as part of BaShaar.

2.   Educational Outreach – Bashaar began to operate in the field of education immediately upon its establishment in 1999, aiming to promote academic values such as freedom of thought, critical thinking, pluralism, liberalization, as well as raising awareness of the achievement of academic research and making them accessible to various audiences, mostly in the geographical and social periphery in Israel. Thus, BaShaar serves as a platform that enables faculty members to volunteer for the benefit of Israeli society, promoting rational thinking and secular values.

Activities in this channel include:

Meetings in High Schools – Faculty members who are BaShaar’s volunteers travel to schools in the periphery to meet with high school students and teachers. During these meetings, they share their personal stories and scientific achievements in their fields of research. The meetings are aimed to inspire students, arouse their curiosity and encourage them to excel. They provide a bridge between these students and the possibilities that an academic education can open up to them.

“Ask Anything!” Platform – Where high school students, teachers, or the general public can ask questions in all scientific fields, and BaShaar’s experts provide them with cutting-edge answers. In an era of fake news and alternative facts this platform is a source for reliable and trustworthy knowledge.

Lectures for the General Public – Aimed to make scientific knowledge from the forefront of research accessible to wide audiences. We aspire to increase the awareness of the general public to scientific and technological innovations and their implications in a rapidly changing environment. We initiate series of lectures that take place in the periphery, on topical issues. For example, as an immediate response to the current situation in Israel on March 1st 2023, we held a series of lectures in the periphery on "Democracy and the Rule of Law". Another series, "Scientific Breakthroughs in the Field of Medicine and Health" is planned for October 10th, where about 20 lectures will be held all over the country.

After the brutal Hamas attack on October 7th 23 and the subsequent war, BaShaar took action both on the academic front, vis-a-vis academic institutions worldwide, and in the educational channel, mainly supporting high school students in communities that were displaced from their homes.

Today, BaShaar lists over 2,000 members, all of them are present or past senior faculty members, including presidents and rectors, Nobel Laureates and laurates of the Israel Prize from all institutions of higher education in Israel.

The Chairperson of BaShaar is Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron from Tel Aviv University, former Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Science, former President of the Open University and former Vice-Chairman of the Council for Higher Education.

Past BaShaar Chairpersons and co-founders are Prof. Zehev Tadmor, the former President of the Technion, and Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, the former President of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Vered Ariel-Nahari, PhD. | CEO

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