Warmongering Hebrew University tries to muzzle Palestinian students

A protest against attempts Israel’s attempts to encourage military recruitment among Palestinian Christians was held in the Hebrew University during May. 

Ryan Rodrick Beiler ActiveStills

Back in 1969, the civil rights activist Angela Davis complained of how third-level education was being hijacked.

Research grants were being awarded by the US government to “force the scholar to develop more efficient means, for example, of furthering the war in Vietnam.”

Speaking at the University of California, Los Angeles, Davis said: “The university has become political in a very overt sense. It has become political as far as politics are defined by the controlling political apparatus in this country.”

Her comments could be applied to Israeli academic institutions today. On Monday this week, the giant US weapons-maker Lockheed Martin announced that it had signed a cooperation agreement with Yissum Research and Development Company. Yissum is a “technology transfer” firm belonging to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The deal could lead to “more efficient means” of killing Palestinians. It also enables the privatization of knowledge.

Lockheed will reportedly be able to enjoy monopoly “rights” over any innovations realized by this partnership. Scientists working for a nominally public university are, therefore, being required to serve the interests of an American corporation that is a key supplier of weapons to the Israeli military.

While the university is happy to do business with a firm profiting from massacres — such as those in Gaza during the summer — it has displayed a hostile attitude to some of its own students.

Threatened

On 28 September, twelve of its Palestinian students received threatening letters — just before a new academic year began. The students were informed that they may be brought before a disciplinary board because they had organized demonstrations on campus, without having permission to do so from the university authorities.

The Hebrew University has seen a number of demonstrations this year — including protests against attempts to convince Palestinian Christians they should enroll in the Israeli military and rallies in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners undertaking a hunger strike in Israeli jails.

Severe restrictions

Why should students need permission to protest? Aren’t universities supposed to protect freedom of expression?

Israeli universities have an “activities charter” regulating such matters as protests, public meetings and the distribution of flyers and posters.

The twelve students at the Hebrew University are accused of violating this charter. Yet it would be extremely difficult — perhaps even impossible — for any student in present-day Israel to respect the charter if he or she wished to protest against Israel’s systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

The charter places severe restrictions on any activities that have not been organized by the National Union of Israeli Students, a distinctly Zionist organization.

Whenever students are punished for violating the charter, they are almost always Palestinian students. Zionist political parties and organizations are much less likely to be have their activities placed under surveillance by the academic authorities.

It is by no means the first time that Palestinian students at the Hebrew University have been threatened in this way.

In 2012, a group of activists was summoned to appear before the university’s disciplinary board for holding a screening of the film Jenin, Jenin, attended by its director Muhammad Bakri. The students were fined on the grounds that the university considered the movie to be based on “lies and slander.”

Spreading fear

Similar incidents of repression have occurred in other Israeli universities.

The Academic Watch Project, which monitors the discrimination faced by Palestinian students in Israel, has analyzed all political cases heard by the disciplinary board in Haifa University between 2007 and 2012. We found that no Zionist or right-wing Jewish Israeli student was called before the board in that period.

That was despite the way Jewish Israeli students at Haifa University had organized many activities without first being given the green light by the academic authorities.

Tamer Massalha, a lawyer who has represented students called to disciplinary boards, has come to similar conclusions. He has reported that 80 percent of all disciplinary cases at Haifa University have been opened against Palestinian students. Yet Palestinians comprise just 25 percent of all students in that university.

Massalha has argued that the main purpose of disciplinary boards is to create fear among Palestinian students and to dissuade them from getting involved in political activities.

Ever since Israel’s universities were established, Palestinian students enrolled in them have been denied the same rights as Jewish Israelis. Disciplinary boards have been used as a means of control and suppression of Palestinian students.

The threats against the twelve students at the Hebrew University are not in the least surprising. Nor is the determination of the students to continue speaking out.

As the group said in a statement: “We will not be silenced and we will not allow the university to suppress us. We will expose the university for its racism.”

Yara Sa’di is a postgraduate student and activist from Haifa. She has undertaken research for the Academic Watch Project.

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Comments

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How bizarre and Third Reich-ish for an Israeli institution of higher learning to prostitute itself to the cause of "more effective means of killing Palestinians".

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The specific areas of co-operation mentioned are Quantum Information Sciences and Material Sciences. To interpret this, within quotes, as "more efficient means of killing Palestinians" is bad journalism. The article would be better without it.

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what would technology tranfer between lockheed martin, preeminent, weapons manufacturer, and hebrew university have as its application other than more efficient means of killing palestinians? I guess killing Iranians might also be a possibility. In the present historical context, killing palestinians in quotes is really not bad journalism.

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it is bad journalism - so too is describing Hebrew U as "third reich-ish", even though that was in the comments.

And no, students (or anyone else for that matter) are not "free" to protest. They are free to hold whatever views they wish, and in some circumstances assemble as they may see fit to celebrate their grievances, but they are not free to "demonstrate" in a fashion that only they feel is either peaceful or appropriate.

If you want to come onto my campus and talk about how bad my campus is, then i have a right to ask you to leave. That is simple, common-sense.

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I see now, the quotation marks are there because the quote is from a phrase by Angela Davis.
The author claims that Hebrew University scientists are being forced to work on weapons development. If that is correct, I object strongly. But we are not given enough information to know that. That is why the piece is bad journalism. The contract is with a company, which will have its own scientists. No doubt HU scientists will act as consultants, but it is unlikely that HU would or could force them to do so against their conscience.

The fields described are basic multipurpose technologies. No doubt LM will apply any innovations to weapons development if they can. But such applications would be military secrets, and weapons development would most likely be done by LM in their own development facilities. To make the article good journalism, the author would have to show that HU scientists are working directly on weapons development.

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Just hard to understand, watching from the outside, are both Hamas and Israel targeting civilians? Did Hamas send thousands of rockets into Israel's civilian population? Did Israel bomb Palestinian civilians? I get it - you guys think it is Ok for the group you support to target civilians, but the other group is wrong for doing the same thing. News flash - US shouldn't be involved in this conflict because neither side warrants our support.

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to resist their occupation. Israel has a powerhouse military with all the modern killing apparatus the US taxpayer can give them to slaughter the Palestinians they hold in occupation. The Palestinians have no army, no navy, no air force, no tanks, no fighter jets, no attack helicopters, no missiles, no bombs, no nukes. All they have are crude unguided rockets that land with a thud no where near "civilian populations" in Israel. Of course, Israel has built illegal zionist settlements all over Palestine, walled Gazans into concentration camps where they cannot leave and you want to talk about equivalency? For Israel and its supporters to call that a "war" is like saying Mike Tyson beating up your old granny is a championship prize fight.

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You choose to ignore the primary issue, which is the continued illegal occupation and blockade of Palestinian land. It is the right of those so occupied to engage in armed struggle against their occupiers. The conflict is not symetrical, with Israel holding enormous advantage in weaponry and Western support which it uses to devastating effect against the Indegenious people of Palestine. Deal to the illegality of Israel's actions and their will be no further discussion about the ongoing genocidal tactics used to maintain that policy.

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The Palestinians have had a right to armed resistance ever since the Balfour Declaration of 1917. It has never worked, and it never will work, because the other side has the big guns. In such an asymmetrical situation the only method that does work is non-violent resistance. It worked in Romania when half a million citizens told Ceausescu to go, and he was helpless before them. It got Blacks their civil rights in the USA. It deposed the apartheid regime in South Africa. It worked in Tunisia.
Stop the Hamas rockets, stop the children throwing stones at the IDF in the West Bank, to take away any excuse for Israeli violence. Then demonstrations, civil disobedience, BDS, and above all: go straight to the ICC and war crimes charges against all Israel government ministers who have authorized WB settlement activities, and the Military Commanders who have implemented them. The ICJ has already decided the legal issues: it is an open and shut case.

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Glad to hear someone else calling for an end to US involvement in the conflict. Yes it is time to end a more than $3 billion annual subsidy, the supply of leading edge military products, the resupply of the Israeli arsenal when they run short of bombs and guided missiles, the use of the US UNSC veto and much much else. Only when the US stops backing Israel will American governments be able to serve the interests of the American people, without constantly being beholden to AIPAC and other foreign lobbies

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A corrupt Lockheed company that provides weaponry for Israel is little different from most U.S. corporations which want to sell, and don't care whom it is their sales kill. - George Beres in Eugene, Oregon

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Zionism destroys the eessential sprit of any academic institution as a logical part of his own destruction,historically,is the beginning of the end of The zionist state. Good new for authentical human beigs.

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The Israeli economy depends on war. The purpose of establishing Israel was to establish a perpetual religious war. Today's religious conflict was predicted in the 1940's by the U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, who saw it starting. They were overruled by money, poured into political and media control.

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