Israeli Universities Crack Down on Arab Students for Supporting Palestine

Arab students at Israeli universities are facing punitive actions, such as suspensions, expulsions, and arrests, for expressing their solidarity with the Palestinian people and their resistance against the Israeli occupation.

According to Adalah, a legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, at least 160 Arab students at various Israeli universities have been subjected to disciplinary measures since October 7, 2023, for their social media posts, demonstrations, and art installations that support the Palestinian cause. In addition, 19 Arab students have been detained by the Israeli police and accused of allegedly supporting a terrorist organization.

Adalah says that these actions violate the students’ rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and protest, and that they are part of a systematic campaign to silence and intimidate the Arab minority in Israel. Adalah also says that the Israeli universities are complicit in this repression, as they cooperate with the police and the Shin Bet security service, and impose arbitrary and disproportionate sanctions on the students.

A Case Study: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

One of the most prominent examples of the crackdown on Arab students is the case of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where 88 Arab students are facing various forms of punishment for their involvement in a peaceful protest art installation on October 7, 2023. The installation, which was organized by the campus chapters of the Palestinian Students’ Union and the Joint List, consisted of seven bundles of white cloth stained with red paint, representing the Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces in Gaza.

The university administration accused the students of violating the university’s regulations, which prohibit political activities on campus, and of inciting violence and hatred. The university also claimed that the installation was a “provocation” and a “disturbance” to the academic atmosphere, and that it endangered the safety and well-being of the students and staff.

The students, however, argue that their installation was a legitimate and artistic expression of their solidarity with the Palestinian people, and that they did not intend to harm or offend anyone. They also say that the university’s regulations are discriminatory and inconsistent, as they allow pro-Israeli and Zionist activities on campus, but ban any pro-Palestinian and anti-occupation activities.

A Call for Solidarity and Support

The Arab students at Israeli universities are calling for solidarity and support from the international community, especially from the academic community, to pressure the Israeli authorities and the university administrations to stop the repression and respect their rights. They are also demanding that the Israeli universities adopt a clear and transparent policy that guarantees the freedom of expression and academic freedom of all students, regardless of their political views or national identity.

The Arab students are also appealing to the Israeli public to join them in their struggle for justice and equality, and to recognize their right to express their identity and their solidarity with their people. They say that they are not enemies or threats, but rather partners and allies in the quest for peace and coexistence.

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