There are three common and highly contagious diseases in many parts of our communities. They are bribery, blackmail and fraud. In late April a colleague at a prestigious university shared with me the lamentable tale of one of her 22-year-old male students of a well-to-do Bukharan famiiy in Jerusalem.
To prepare me for the shock she was about to reveal, she began by telling me it was not an isolated event. On the contrary, she wrote, many students attach gifts in the form of shekels in the hope of achieving higher scores and higher grades in final examinations.
A student in her most recent chemistry examination prior to the end of the semester exams attached three 200 skekel notes to the examination paper. In a few words his brevity requested her consideration for a higher grade.
The shekel notes (600 shekels in all) were inserted in the examination booklet in which he wrote in his note. “this is to encourage you to give me a final grade on the exam no lower than a 95. What difference should it make to you? But for me, in order to continue, my grades must be no lower than a 95. My future depends on it.”
The young instructor did not feel comfortable in what she considered bribery to change an original grade of 60 to a grade nearer to a 95. She returned the six hundred shekels in an envelope attached to the returned exam paper with a brief note that “if you had studied diligently your grade could have improved. But no amount of bribe money will change it. You are now living in Israel. It’s time for you to accept Israeli ethics”.
It bought a wide smile to my face. What ethics? Was she so naive not to recognize the corruption every day in our country, beginning at the highest levels?
I had to really admire her, however, wishfully hoping that there were many others like her.
One week later she received a brief scribbled note from that student informing her that he knew about her sexual relationship with a graduate student and would make it known throughout the university unless she agreed to increase his final class grade.
Wisely for her, she requested a meeting with the academic dean, explaining the original bribery and handed over to her the follow-up blackmail note which she had received.
In disgust, the dean sent for the student and asked him if he had sent a blackmail letter to his instructor. He denied it until she handed over the note which he had sent.
Shamefully he admitted it and defended himself by claiming that he needed the higher grade desperately in order to be admitted into a graduate program. He offered to apologize to his instructor for offering her a bribe and for threatening to blackmail her.
Fortunately for academic high quality in Israeli universities, his apologies were rejected and he was expelled from the university. No other institution of higher education would accept him and it is now rumored that he works from a kiosk in Hadar HaCarmel selling newspapers, chocolate bars and lotto tickets.
Hats off to the instructor and to the dean for upholding the values of our educational institutions.
If only members of our Knesset could be as free of bribery, blackmail and corruption, what a paradise our small country could be.
Ah… the pains of wishful thinking !
“Mashiach— aifo ata”? Messiah— where art Thou?