Hebrew U marches to Sheikh Jarrah

Celebrated professors and their students protest eviction of locals.

May 26, 2010 20:03
2 minute read.
Hebrew University professors and students march fr

hebrew u sheikh jarrah 311. (photo credit: Abe Selig)

Some 800 Hebrew University students and nearly a dozen professors marched from the school’s Mount Scopus campus to Sheikh Jarrah on Wednesday afternoon to protest the evictions of Arab families and what they called the neighborhood’s “Jewish settlement.”

While protests in the northeast Jerusalem quarter have ballooned over recent months, and Friday afternoon demonstrations there continue to draw large crowds, Wednesday’s march was the first “academic protest” in Sheikh Jarrah. Although the march was in no way endorsed by the university, students and professors alike said more such efforts would follow.

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Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell from the university’s Political Science Department addressed the crowd in a park inside the neighborhood. Sternhell, who was born in Poland in 1935, told The Jerusalem Post that the march was a “new step” for the protest movement in Sheikh Jarrah, and that the student-professor cooperation was something new for demonstrations in Israel.

“I can’t remember when there was ever something like it, he said. “And I’m very happy to see it.

“And I think the fact that we’re seeing so many people here today, also shows that we’ve reached a point of crisis [in Sheikh Jarrah] and that dangerous things are happening here that need to stop.”

Sternhell said that he and his fellow protesters had come out for two reasons.

“One is the suffering of those who were kicked out of their homes and others who fear they will be next,” he said. “The other thing is the political stupidity that allowed it to happen.”

Students told the Post that many of them had never been to a protest in the neighborhood before, but that they had heard of the goings-on in Sheikh Jarrah, and felt obliged to show their support.

“I’m not necessarily the left-wing protester type,” a student named Yoav said. “But I’ve heard about the situation here, and I thought that it would be a good opportunity to let my voice be heard as well.

“Just because I or maybe others here haven’t protested in the neighborhood before, it doesn’t mean we approve of what has happened here. If anything, it’s the opposite,” he continued.  “We’ve quietly watched Jerusalem become more right wing, more polarized – and Sheikh Jarrah is a big, symbolic part of that. Now it’s time for us to say, enough is enough!”

As speakers addressed the crowd during the final leg of the protest, a small counter-demonstration gathered across the street. However, no confrontations took place.

After about half an hour, the marchers dispersed peacefully. No unusual occurrences were reported by police.

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