Israeli Arabs complain of discrimination on campus

Arab students were recently threatened to be punished as a result of staging a demonstration in support of the Palestinian people

Israeli Arabs complain of discrimination on campus

World Bulletin/News Desk

Although freedom of speech is guaranteed by Israeli university bylaws, only Jewish students appear to enjoy this right while their Arab-Israeli counterparts do not.

Some Arab students have recently been threatened with punishment for staging a demonstration in support of the Palestinian people. The administration of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, however, said the students did not have the right to stage the protest because it was unlicensed.

But while University President Udi Shavit said the protest was unlicensed, none of the Zionist-leaning student groups were ever prevented from organizing demonstrations on campus.

"The university president decided to make matters complicated for us when he failed to silence us," Omar, a music student at the university, told Anadolu Agency. "He says we can't stage the demonstration without permission."

He said protest organizers had applied for permission several times, but had received no reply from the university administration because the demonstration was organized against the Israeli army.

The demonstration was organized on June 10 in reaction to the arrest by Israeli police of three Arab students on the university campus.

The students' arrest followed a May 7 demonstration against a decision by the Israeli government to allow Palestinian Christians who hold Israeli nationality to voluntarily serve in the Israeli army.

No opposition allowed

Hala Marshood, a student of English at the same university and one of 12 Palestinian students expected to be punished for taking part in the protest, described the university president's silence over the past four months as "bizarre."

Shavit, she said, had only begun speaking about punishing the students in the run-up to the new academic year, set to begin on October 26.

"It is not easy to have a different point of view in Israel," Marshood said. "Israelis who raise their voices [against Israeli policies] are either marginalized or subjected to violence." 

Marshood and 11 colleagues sent a letter to the university president explaining their reasons for staging the protest. Shavit has not yet answered the letter, but he is expected to reply after the Jewish Sukkot holiday.  

If they fail to convince the university president of their point of view, they will be referred to a disciplinary council.

AA called the university administration to obtain more information on the matter. The administration, however, only said that university policy banned comment on disciplinary issues.

University administrators do not show the same hostility to campus activism by student Zionist groups, making Arab students feel discriminated against.

-Mounting tension-

Omar and Marshood expect tensions between Palestinian and Israeli students to mount further in coming days against the backdrop of Israel's recent military onslaught on the blockaded Gaza Strip.

During the recent offensive, Hebrew University expressed support for the Israeli army.

The university even created a solidarity fund for roughly 1,000 Israeli students who had served in the army during the 51-day conflict.

Marshood said she and her fellow Arab students would organize a protest against the decision. She accused the university administration of discriminating against Arab students while favoring their Jewish Israeli counterparts.

"Many teachers are racist," Marshood asserted. "In class, they use English, Hebrew and Russian, but never Arabic."

Marshood said the Israeli authorities forbade Arab students from mixing with Israeli students before reaching university. She noted that university tended to be where Arabs met Jews for the first time.

"It's like a shock," she said.

Omar said it would be difficult for him to sit beside fellow students who may have participated in Israel's recent war on Gaza, in which more than 2,160 Palestinians lost their lives.

Omar lamented: "They [Israeli students] might have killed Palestinians."

Last Mod: 23 Ekim 2014, 16:54
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