National Arab Student Union
PROTEST THE SUPRESSION OF POLITICAL ACTIVITIES OF ARAB
STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HAIFA
As part of an orchestrated campaign of suppression aimed at silencing the voice of Arab
students at the University of Haifa, the university authorities have recently decided to
suspend two students - Alaa Halaila and Raja Zaatra, chairman of the Arab student
committee - from their studies for one semester. Three other student-activists
- Fadi Abu-Yunes, Samer Sueid, and Sami Zuabi - were put on probation and threatened
with a one-semester suspension. These decisions punish the students for their
participation in an allegedly "illegal" demonstration, and they mark the climax of a school
year in which the Arab students' right of expression was repeatedly denied.
We Need Your Support
The policy of the University of Haifa seeks to end Palestinian student political activism
on campus. This policy will continue unless massive protest persuades the University
that it is unacceptable for an institution of Higher Learning. We therefore call on members
of the academic community - students and professors - as well as others, to protest the
suppression of political activities of Arab students at the University of Haifa and demand
that the University revoke the suspensions imposed on the student activists and respect
students' basic democratic right to express their political views.
More information about events at the University of Haifa is given below.
Please email your protest letters the university officials listed below:
> > Prof. Yehuda Hayuth firstname.lastname@example.org
> > Prof. Aharon Ben Zeev email@example.com
, Rector Fax no. 8342101
> > Prof. Aharon Kellerman firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President Fax no. 8343441
> > Ms. Yael Metser email@example.com
Vice President for Public Relations and Resource Development
> > Prof. Ron Robin firstname.lastname@example.org
Dean of Students Fax no. 8240319
If you can, please send a copy of your letter to the National Arab Student Union
) and to the Committee of Arab Students at
the University of Haifa (email@example.com
Events at the university of Haifa During the School year 2001/2
- At the beginning of the school year, the Arab students' committee held a protest vigil
on the discrimination against Arab students in acceptance to the student dormitories, based
on the criterion of "military service" (to which Arabs in Israel cannot comply).
Following this protest, five students were suspended from their studies for three weeks
without trial. Then they were put on disciplinary trial on the charge of violating the ban on demonstrations imposed by the university during the first ten days of the school-year.
In addition, four students who participated in the vigil, and who had been late in
paying their tuition, were handed letters informing them that they were banned from
entering the campus. A hearing in which the suspended students appealed the
university's decision (unsuccessfully) was held behind closed doors despite their explicit
request to hold an open hearing. A large building, in one of whose rooms the hearing was
held, was closed off by security guards and police. A Jewish supporter of the students,
who was one of the few who were allowed to enter the building, was violently assaulted
by security men while waiting for the end of the hearing. In this hearing, as in the other
cases in which the Arab students' democratic rights were denied, the students were
represented by Adalah - the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel,
through Attorney Orna Kohn.
- From the beginning of the second semester, the University systematically prevented
Arab students from expressing their protest against the Israeli re-invasion of the
towns and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza.
The "temporary regulation" banning demonstrations on campus during the first 10
days of the semester was extended successively every few weeks, becoming a
permanent measure. Thus, in response to the Arab students' announcement of their
intention to hold a protest vigil on March 12, 2002, the. university imposed another
10-day ban on demonstrations. On that occasion, barred from holding a vigil in the
campus site allocated for demonstrations, the students organized a sit-in on a campus
lawn, with participants wearing masking-tape on their mouths. This sit-in was defined
as a "demonstration" by the University, and 7 students were prosecuted in an internal
trial. Eventually the students were acquitted of this charge, but the University used
this event to raise an alarmist campaign on the "dangerous" arab students in
the Haifa local media. The university also informed the media that 9 faculty-members
of the University, who were present at the event, would be put on disciplinary trial,
and a few of them were summoned for a talk with their dean.
Khuloud Badawi, head of the National Arab students' union and a former student
at the University of Haifa, who was present at the event, received a letter from the
university informing her that she was banned from entering the campus.
- On April 8, 2002, after the Arab students' committee's announcement of its plan to
hold a demonstration was met with another ban on demonstrations on campus, the
Arab students' committee agreed, after negotiating with the University authorities,
to hold a peaceful demonstration outside the University campus. As agreed with the
university authorities, the students met at a location on campus and walked to its gate.
They were followed by a group of Jewish students (among them the chairman of the
"general" student union), who organized a provocation by blowing whistles and
hurling racist insults at the Arab students (including "go to Birzeit" and "death to
the Arabs"). In response, some of the Arab students raised the signs they had
prepared for the demo before reaching the campus gate, as they continued to march
towards it. The raising of the signs while still on campus was considered of enough
of a "crime" to warrant another disciplinary trial. This time, two student-activists
were suspended for a semester and three others were put on probation. Two
Jewish left-wing students who participated in this demo were summoned to the
University's chief of security for intimidating conversations. No disciplinary measures
were taken against the right-wing demonstrators who harassed the Arab students.
Palestinian student activism in Israeli Universities
The educational system of the Arab-Palestinians in Israel has been long used to
suppress the collective aspirations of the Palestinian minority in Israel. It has been
systematically manipulated in the interest of social, economic and political control.
The goal is to prevent Palestinian citizens of Israel from the status quo of Israel as a
Jewish state. Since the early 80's, the Israeli Board of Higher Education has been
preventing the establishment of a university that will teach in the Arabic language.
Haifa university, like all other universities in Israel, does not recognize the legitimacy
of the Arab student unions, that have a played an important role in the struggle for
Palestinian national existence and collective interests.
The current atmosphere of intimidation and incitement against the Palestinian citizens
of Israel, orchestrated by Israel's political elite, has provided an opportunity for the
university of Haifa authorities to clamp down on the political activity of its Arab students.
The University, which, more than any other institution, should stand for free expression
and the open exchange of ideas, has instead become a site of silencing, intimidation, and de-legitimization for its Arab students.
For further details, contact:
> > Khulood Badawi: 067469738 or 048678607 firstname.lastname@example.org
> > Shady khalilieh : 054214079 email@example.com
> > Raja Zaatre: 054663857 firstname.lastname@example.org
> > Arabstudentunion_il@yahoo.com
> > Coalition of Women for a Just Peace, email@example.com http://www.coalitionofwomen4peace.org