Israeli Arab man raises Palestinian flag 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
The University of Haifa banned Arab students from waving Palestinian flags
during protests that took place earlier this week against the Begin-Prawer plan,
causing reactions from NGOs for and against the decision.
The Begin-Prawer plan is
being debated in the Knesset
Fady Khoury, a
lawyer for Adalah, an Arab legal rights group, told The Jerusalem Post that the
university is violating the principle of freedom of speech and should not act as
a filter or interfere in the substance of expression.
and seeks to regulate Beduin settlement in the
Raising the flag is not illegal, though we do understand that it
is a controversial issue, he said. Still, “we are saying that the freedom of
Despite the ban, Khoury said that some students still
raised the flag and so he is not sure the ban was completely
Asked if raising the flag could be seen as a provocation, he
said that in the past the flag has been used in protests and it “did not lead to
He said as of Wednesday that Adalah had not received a
response from their letter to the university.
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The University of Haifa has
been under pressure in the media as of late as the Im Tirtzu movement published
a report earlier this month finding that a legal clinic, run out of the law
department, was giving legal aid to convicted terrorists.
criticized the university for using public funds in order to help the Arab
The university rejected the charges in the report and
said that cases in question occurred a few years ago.
Ronen Shoval, the
founder and head of Im Tirtzu, argued that it finds the fact that the university
is banning the Palestinian flag at this time to be “pathetic spin by the
university to show itself to be Zionist.”
“We exposed a few weeks ago
what is going on in the University of Haifa legal clinic – that they are helping
terrorists and so instead of dealing with that issue they are making spin that
the Arabs are mad at them,” he said.
Regarding the issue of banning the
Palestinian flags, Im Tirtzu sides with the university since one must
distinguish between freedom of expression or academic freedom and Arabs creating
“an atmosphere of fear.” It is an abuse of freedom of speech, he
Alon Schvartzer, the campus coordinator for Im Tirtzu, told the Post
that this is not the first time that Palestinian flags have been seen on
“Students are scared to say things in class and are worried about
their grades if they go to complain,” he said.
Asked about this argument,
Khoury said that he does not want to address Im Tirtzu’s claims, but he thinks
that they may be correct in that the university may have wanted to appear more
Zionist after being accused of aiding terrorists in their legal
University of Haifa spokesman, Ilan Yavelberg, told the Post
all of these groups are creating provocations in order to get into the
“Haifa University will not allow provocations from any party, which
causes damage to the life on campus and violations to the public order,” said a
statement sent to the Post
The university is “an example of tolerance
and coexistence among all sectors of the population in Israel.”
statement went on to add that the university is proud to invite the members of
Adalah to the university in order to show how it operates in an atmosphere of
cooperation and provides academic research at the highest level.
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