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SUPRESSION OF ARAB STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HAIFA

by . Sunday, Sep. 08, 2002 at 3:30 PM

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.



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 hayuth@uvm.haifa.ac.il, President

> > Prof. Aharon Ben Zeev benzeev@research.haifa.ac.il, Rector Fax no. 8342101

> > Prof. Aharon Kellerman akeller@research.haifa.ac.il,

Vice President Fax no. 8343441

> > Ms. Yael Metser metser@research.haifa.ac.il,

Vice President for Public Relations and Resource Development

> > Prof. Ron Robin r.robin@research.haifa.ac.il Dean of Students Fax no. 8240319

If you can, please send a copy of your letter to the National Arab Student Union

(Arabstudentunion_il@yahoo.com) and to the Committee of Arab Students at

the University of Haifa (students1976@hotmail.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 khokhai@hotmail.com

> > Shady khalilieh : 054214079 shadykhalilieh@hotmail.com

> > Raja Zaatre: 054663857 raja_zaatry@yahoo.com

> > Arabstudentunion_il@yahoo.com

> > Coalition of Women for a Just Peace, info@coalitionofwomen4peace.org

http://www.coalitionofwomen4peace.org

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