Support for Palestinian Students who study at the Hebrew University
Acadeia for Equality and New Profile, organizations who are fighting against militarization of the Israeli Academia and its influence on Israeli society, are standing side by side with the Palestinian students at the Hebrew University, in their struggle against the presence of the army on campus.
In preparation for the Nakaba day, the students' members of Hadash students' cell at the Hebrew University, published a video surveying different historical locations in the long term violence against the Palestinian people. The last location focuses on the increasing militarization of the Hebrew University and its collaboration with the processes of dispossession and oppression of the residents of Isawiya, the neighborhood adjacent to the university. "The Nakaba continues, is present everyday – we have not forgotten and will not forget," concluded the students. To demonstrate their claim there are photos, in the video, of soldiers-students everywhere on campus: in the library, in the cafeteria, in the computer rooms and obviously on pavements and grass areas.
The expected condemnations were quick to come. The right wing organizations at the university and the right wing media outlets presented the video as incitement and as a call to harm students-soldiers. They called upon the university authorities to take action against the students who created the video. MK Ofir Sofer (the National Unity) went so far as to complain to the legal advisor of the government demanding an opening of a criminal investigation against the initiators, creators and distributers of the video."Ofek" students' cell that identifies with the labor party rebuked the video because it "might be taken as a call to harm groups of students-soldiers" but expressed its desire to maintain relationships of "true partnership" with the students' cell of Hadash. The students union of the Hebrew University, although expressing its desire to open criticism and different points of view, condemned "strongly the marking of any ordinary students, in particular any call for violence or incitement against them" and stressed its commitment to make sure that "everyone will feel safe on campus". Their worry, in case of any doubt, is to soldiers who study at the university, who were seemingly threatened. Five students cells – Lavi student cell identified with the Likud, Yemina student cell, "Im Tirzu", young Yesh Atid and the student cell of Blue-White – will declare that they will demonstrate on Monday, the 25th of this month, demanding a firm reaction of the university against members of Hadash cell and in favor of the soldiers on campus.
The reaction of the university was that it "allows free speech to variety of ideas and perspectives, so far as it does not relate to illegal activity". The university indicates justly one false detail that appeared in the video: it was said that on the roof of the university were snipers who targeted Isawiya. But the response of the university omits the full and correct description: on the roof of the Rabin building for Jewish studies, policemen were in fact stationed, but as photographers rather than as snipers. They observed and recorded activity in the neighbourhood. Indeed, in the university reaction there is no trace to its active collaboration with the police regarding the collective punishment the police employ on Isawiya by blocking the south entrance to the neighborhood. In fact, we were informed that according to the police version, this closure continues because of the university’s demand and if the university will declare that it does not have a security need for this closure, it will be removed. It is worthwhile mentioning that tens of Isawiya residents work and study at the Mount Scopus campus.
In its reaction to the inquiries regarding the video of the Hadash student cell, the university includes a wrong detail of its own. It denies the fact that Palestinian students were, indeed, evacuated from the dormitories by short notice, in order to make space to what became a military base inside the Resnick students housing.
The 'Academia for Equality' organization has followed with much concern the growing and increasing militarization process of the Hebrew University. This process culminated last year, with the implementation of the academic-military training program "Havazalot" (Lilies). This program did not only carry on board different brands of discrimination; it also amplified the number of uniform wearing and weapon carrying people on campus, and the barracks atmosphere in it is stronger than ever. Obviously, under this atmosphere the Palestinian students feel threatened. They develop rage and alienation against the institution where they study and they identify it much stronger with the trend of dispossession and controlling they have known since their birth. Those justified feelings led to the inclusion of the recent events taking place at the Hebrew University as current sequence in the Nakba that continues to occur.
We will all pay the harmful consequences of this trend. The university must clearly remain a civil institution. It has to leave the barracks, the uniform and the weapons outside the campus' borders. We expect from the Hebrew University to demonstrate sensitivity and understanding to the plight of the Palestinian Students who enter its gates, who feel threatened facing the military atmosphere growing and overtaking it. We hope that it will stand firm at the defense of the freedom of expression on campus and will make it clear to the right wing students' cells that it will not allow threats or violent actions against those who voice their opinions. We call upon the university board to stop immediately its collaboration with the siege on Isawiya.