Bennett orders higher academic institutions to ban Islamic Movement on campus

Gadi Frank, director-general of the CHE penned a letter on Friday to the heads of higher education institutions informing them of the decision.

November 22, 2015 22:21
3 minute read.
islamic movment

Islamic Movement leader Raed Salah demosntrates in Umm el-Fahm, November 20, 2015. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Education Minister and Chairman of the Council for Higher Education Naftali Bennett has instructed heads of higher academic institutions to immediately remove any Islamic Movement activity within Israeli academia.

“There will not be terrorism on campus. We outlawed the Islamic Movement and now it is clear that there is no place to permit it to operate within Israeli academic institutions,” Bennett said on Friday.

“I am working on this issue as chairman of the Council for Higher Education and expect each head of institution to take responsibility, to understand the risk and to act jointly with the decision of the political leadership,” he added.

Gadi Frank, director-general of the CHE penned a letter on Friday to the heads of higher education institutions informing them of the decision.

“Education Minister and Chairman of the CHE Bennett brought to our attention that the Islamic Movement was declared an unlawful association, so from now on all activities of groups belonging to this movement are illegal and prohibited,” he wrote.

He added as a reminder that the CHE had “taken a decision that academic institutions would not prohibit or restrict the rights of students to hold public activities, unless they are activities that are prohibited by law.”

According to the Education Ministry, the CHE was informed that there are “cells of students acting within some higher education institutions” belonging to the Islamic Movement and were asked to deal with them.

Last week, the Security Cabinet voted to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement.

The wording of Bennett’s instructions, however, was unclear as to whether institutions should remove only northern branch activities on campuses or those related to the southern branch, as well.

Sheikh Kamil Ahmad Rayan, the head of the Al-Aqsa Association for the Care of the Islamic Holy Sites and a member of Islamic Movement’s Southern Branch, told The Jerusalem Post in reaction to Bennett’s comments that “this sweeping decision” goes too far in targeting educational institutions.

“It is not enough that they ban the Islamic Movement, they want to chase after the little that we have in education,” said Sheikh Rayan, who lives in Kafr Bara and works in neighboring Kafr Kasim.

Rayan, who is chairman of the NGO, AMAN Center–The Arab Center for a Safe Society, asked why the education minister was interfering in Islamic Movement educational initiatives since they are run by a separate educational branch through “independent funds that do not come from outside of Israel.”

Asked if he thought Bennett purposely left the wording vague as Islamic Movement instead of naming only the northern branch, he responded: “This shows how much the government is in a panic.

They don’t know how to differentiate between the northern and southern branches.”

Asked where he sees the conflict between the Islamic Movement and the government going, he said: “Nobody knows what will happen if they close schools,” and, if so, he joked, perhaps “we will take them to Bennett’s house so he can teach them.

Rayan emphasized that the ban on the Islamic Movement’s northern branch also is having a large impact on the southern movement, explaining that he had been working on a business initiative with a Jewish partner for the past five years and on Sunday that person called a meeting with him to withdraw his participation because of fear of having business ties with someone affiliated with the southern Islamic Movement.

He warned that if all Islamic Movement educational institutions are outlawed, it would remove from the youth any semblance of structure in their lives and many could become extremists and join Islamic State.

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