Numerus Clausus

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Article/book #: 5052
Title: Numerus Clausus
By: Aviad Kleinberg  
Published in: Ha’aretz
Date of issue: Tuesday, 16 December 2003
Topic(s) addressed:


Racism has a tendency to infect even those who are not racists. Racist expressions, categories and thought patterns are taken for granted. A fair number of discussions motivated by the best of intentions are often decided in advance due to the very choice of tendentious terminology. ...

Please note the euphemistic fashion in which the statement refers to the Arab population. First, it refrains from mentioning them by name. However, in figures presented the Knesset Education Committee, the same 71 percent were given the more explicit name of "minority communities." Second, it is hinted that the places of the weaker population (the "development towns") is not being taken by the rich kids from Tel Aviv's northern suburbs (they are in the universities in any case) but rather by the members of the "other population."

Often, as stated, racism may appear inadvertently, in the terms and language we use in all innocence. The concepts of "periphery," "weak populations" and "development towns" are all euphemisms for Jews. After all, if the relevant criteria were geographic and socio-economic rather than national, it would be impossible to ignore the glaringly obvious fact that the Arab settlements in Israel are weak towns located in the periphery that are poorer and more neglected than the Jewish towns in the periphery and in desperate need of development. Consequently, if the goal is to foster weak populations, the Arab population is an especially weak population in particular need of any help it can get. It is not in competition with the weaker Jewish population. Both are competing with the strong Jewish population. If we want to create a more balanced system, we need to dramatically increase the representation of the weaker populations, Jewish and Arab, in the universities, at the expense of the only population that benefits from over-representation - the satiated population in the center. ...

The problem, say concerned individuals in the universities, is that the new applicants are not evenly distributed throughout the university. They prefer the faculty of medicine. Don't we have the right to prevent over representation in the faculty of medicine? Perhaps. Perhaps we need to learn from the treatment accorded another minority group that was over represented in the universities throughout the world, and especially in the faculties of medicine. That minority group tended to register for medical studies in percentages far greater than its proportion in the population. That phenomenon greatly concerned certain regimes that feared that "admitting one population would come at the expense of another."

Perhaps a maximum number should be set for the faculty of medicine. It is known as a Numerus Clausus.

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