Haifa U. to be more careful about controversial speakers

Vice president of university makes comments after media storm erupts following decision to allow Sheikh Salah to speak.

Raed Salah 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Raed Salah 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The University of Haifa will think twice about allowing inflammatory speakers like Islamic Movement northern branch leader Sheikh Raed Salah speak on campus in the future, its vice president said Sunday, after the media frenzy surrounding Salah's speech last week at the university. "Despite the legal issues surrounding freedom of expression, I think we also need to think about the issues of preserving the calm on campus," university vice president Amos Gaver said. "[Salah] came here and gave a violent speech, filled with nonsense, and he touched on all the most emotional points, just to stir up the crowd. That is an abuse of freedom of expression, and we won't allow it on our campus." Gaver went on to say that he believed his institution to be a "fantastic model of coexistence" between Arab and Jewish students, and that Salah's appearance only strained that balance. As for complaints that the university had discriminated against Jewish students who attempted to enter the auditorium during Salah's speech, Gaver dismissed those claims out of hand. "We in no way discriminate against any of our students," he said. "I'm quite proud of the Jewish students who came to protest Salah's speech, and the fact that there were many of them only adds to that pride. But our intention, by keeping the protesters out of the auditorium, was simply to prevent the situation from becoming violent."