Despite the existence of a relentless program by irredentist Arab organizations like the Muslim Students Association and various Palestinian support groups on US and British campuses to divest from and boycott the Jewish state, in many instances bordering on outright anti-Semitism, Israel’s university system is one of the best in the world and maintains close ties and exchange programs with American and British universities.
However, these same close ties have now fostered the unbelievable. At the University of Haifa on June 17th, 2009, a visiting speaker and outright terrorism supporter named Raed Saleh spoke on campus at the invitation of Arab students. Whereas Israeli universities have a strong sense of freedom of speech and academic freedom as is found abroad, what made this speaking engagement unique was that Jewish students were not allowed to attend the lecture given on a major Israeli campus.
Few people know that Israel has affirmative action programs for Arab-Israeli students that gives them admittance priority over Jewish students, even army veterans. So Arabstudent organizations on campuses are plentiful and enjoy the added support from Israeli campus leftists. A new website pointing out how Israeli academia and Israeli universities have become infested with such anti-Israel attitudes, Isracampus.org.il , has emerged to expose this anomaly. In addition, Zionist and pro-Israel students on Israeli campuses have formed a new group, Im Tirtzu (Hebrew for “If you will it”) to counter anti-Israel sentiment being openly promoted among the student body.
But for Jewish students to be barred from any speaking event in a nation that was created as a refuge for Jews, and for that event to openly call for the destruction of the Jewish state is beyond comprehension. University of Haifa officials tried not to let the truth get out about the event in question, but were exposed when student members of Im Tirtzu went to the Israeli press.
Those present reported that screams of “Allahu Akhbar” could be heard from inside the auditorium as Raed Saleh lectured. During his speech, Saleh said, “We love life, our families, our homes and our children, but if they suggest that we give up our principles and holy sites, we would rather die and we welcome death.”
Israel has not sought during the so-called “peace process” that Muslim holy sites or any other holy sites be closed or in any way interfered with. Even the entire Temple Mount is under the control of Muslim religious authorities (the Waqf) due to the presence of two mosques on 3% of the Temple grounds in order to prevent conflicts with the Arab population and surrounding countries.
Despite this, Saleh also falsely claimed that Israel is tunneling under the Temple Mount for archeological reasons even though this also is false. Excavations have been done at the outer wall, but never been done for the same reason the Waqf controls the Temple Mount. Arabs, however, frequently repeat the false rumor of excavations under the area in order to incite the Arab population against the Jewish state.
About 150 Jewish students shut out of the speaking event by campus security were heard shouting, “This is not Teheran” as they protested the barring of Jewish students from the event. The administration’s excuse for allowing the restrictions were allegedly to avoid violence, however, violence was what Raed Saleh preached inside and claimed Israel’s new prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu had plans to rebuild the Temple Mount area, a reason he claimed Israel was tunneling under the area. Jewish student leaders claimed they were unaware of the event in advance due to announcements on campus being written only in Arabic, and further stated that they opposed “…any racist act which includes hatred and a desire to incite. We hope for coexistence, and such a speech and such a person creates provocations and disrupts the order within the university’s walls. We will not sit idly by as such a serious incident takes place in our home.”
What the mainstream press failed to also report was that Saleh, who has been convicted twice of aiding terrorists in Israel and heads an Israeli-Arab irredentist group in northern Israel also exhorted the Arab students in attendance to engage in suicide bombings. This information only appeared in Hebrew on the News1 website in Israel so was missed by international newswires that rely generally on English. Mainstream media in Israel, particularly English outlets, avoid running such details that may seem to encourage incitement to terrorism.
The only similar case of Jewish students being banned from an anti-Israel event on campus took place at UC Irvine with the invitation of an Imam Abdul Malik Ali who frequently makes references to the “Jewnited States of America.” During one speaking engagement on that campus, administrators agreed to let the organizers prevent attendees opposed to Ali’s message from attending or filming the event.
The worst part of this story is how political correctness from the academic left wing has even infested the universities in Israel. Israel is not southern California.
So what’s next? Shall affirmative action programs for suicide bombers and terrorists to be sure and show all points of view on college campuses become part of “academic freedom” with certain students banned due to their ethnicity? If it can happen in Israel, it can certainly become a green light to happen even more often in the USA.
Dear Editor of CFP,
We ask that you inform your readers in your section “Letters to the Editor” our response to recent reports in the press, as follows:
The University of Haifa rejects recent reports that have presented imprecise information, to say the least.
It is an institution committed to democracy and tolerance. Jewish values are venerated, as are freedom of speech and equality.
The University of Haifa is a model of coexistence for Jews and Arabs. Daily life on the campus is not violated by tension. Sporadic activities of a few hundred students do not represent the reality in which 15,000 Jewish students and 3,000 Arab students study and live together.
The University of Haifa contributes to Israeli society as it trains, alongside its other academic tracks, professionals serving the State’s national security. It is the only institution that grants scholarships in honor of the soldiers who fell in the Second Lebanon War, and it is proud to have a “garin”, a group, of national-religious students contributing to the University.
A few points clarifying the sequence of events on campus:
Amir Gilat, PhD
Head of Communications and Media Relations
University of Haifa
Lee Kaplan is an investigative journalist. He is also a regular columnist for Front Page Magazine, the Israel National News and a senior intelligence analyst and communications director for the Northeast Intelligence Network.
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