Student strike stretches two weeks

Universities threaten to extend term, won't give passing grades to protesters.

student strike 298 (photo credit: Dani Machlis)
student strike 298
(photo credit: Dani Machlis)
Students continued their two-week-old strike on Wednesday and were preparing to hold a mass demonstration in Tel Aviv later in the day. A statement by the heads of Israel's two national student unions, Itay Shonshine of the National Union of Israeli Students and Itay Barda of the National Students Organization, follows a threat by the Committee of University Presidents that the universities would extend the second semester and refuse to give passing grades to striking students. In the last student strike of this magnitude, which took place in 1998 during the premiership of Binyamin Netanyahu, the universities offered students a series of benefits to help them pass the semester, including offering passing grades and cutting coursework. This time, university presidents oppose the strike, which seeks to dismantle the Shochat Committee due to students' fears that it will recommend raising tuition fees as part of a reform plan for higher education. Meanwhile, the unions will hold a large demonstration outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Rehov Shaul Hamelech on Wednesday. Tens of thousands of students are expected to come from campuses around the country. Singer Aviv Gefen has confirmed that he will perform at the rally, and waived his performance fee to express support for the students' cause.