Students protest yeshiva stipends across the country

"Wake Up, Bibi!" yelled by students releasing roosters in front of PM's residence; protests held in universities across the country.

October 27, 2010 16:07
2 minute read.
Students protest at the Hebrew University.

student protest_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Simultaneous demonstrations took place at universities across the country Wednesday as thousands of students protested against stipends for full-time yeshiva students.

“Wake up, Bibi, students are worth more!” students chanted outside Hebrew University as they blocked main roads and burned tires.

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“We waited 10 years for an answer from the Supreme Court,” said Ofri Raviv, vice president of the student union at Hebrew University, referring to a legal effort launched in 2000 to examine the issue.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that stipends for haredi kollel students were discriminatory. But on Monday, the Knesset approved the first reading of the 2011-2012 state budget, with stipends for haredi students included in the budget.

“It’s been defective since the founding of the state, and the time has come to prove that this can change,” Raviv told The Jerusalem Post. “Pay attention, Israel, because we’re the backbone of the country, not those people.”

Early Wednesday morning, 20 students from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University demonstrated outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. They released roosters on the road to serve as a “wake-up call” for the premier.

Police took two of the protesters in for questioning, and a municipal worker was dispatched to catch the chickens.

The police said there were no injuries to the protesters; no information was available on the roosters.

Seven students were arrested in Beersheba while trying to block the street during the demonstration there. Dozens of students at Bar- Ilan University also attempted to block the Geha highway.

Ben-Gurion and Hebrew universities had the largest demonstrations, with hundreds of students at each.

Smaller demonstrations took place at the University of Haifa, the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Sapir Academic College near Sderot, and colleges in Netanya and Kiryat Ono.

“This really does touch every student, and that’s why there’s hundreds of students who aren’t apathetic, who left classes to come here,” said Yuval Admon, president of the Hebrew University’s student union. “We want to stop this disgusting law, which isn’t serving anyone. And it’s not good for Israel.”

“Everyone needs to know that the students have the ability and the will to go out into the streets and show that we have electoral power – because that’s the only thing that affects Bibi,” said Tomer Dror, an activist from Hitorerut Yerushalayim (Awakening Jerusalem), who was briefly detained by police.

“We’re not talking to [Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Moshe] Gafni [who proposed the bill to include the stipends in the budget despite the High Court’s ruling]; we’re talking to Bibi, because he’s the one that’s supposed to represent us in the Knesset and he’s the one that needs to stop this law.”

The National Students Union, which unites all the student unions, is planning an additional demonstration on Monday evening in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence that is expected to draw thousands of demonstrators. Organizers are unsure whether there will be roosters at Monday’s protest.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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