Tel Aviv University (TAU) announced on Monday, May 28, that it was barring student organizers from holding anti-occupation and pro-peace events on campus that had been scheduled for the same day on the pretext that it “retroactively discovered a problem with their permit application.”
The TAU chapter of Standing Together had intended to sponsor a lecture on Monday organized by activists from the Combatants for Peace; a meeting between students and Elias Zananiri, a member of the PLO’s Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, on Tuesday; and a screening of a film by B’Tselem organization on Wednesday, followed by a discussion with one of B’Tselem’s researchers in the Gaza Strip.
The university originally approved the proposed events on the condition that the sponsoring organization, Standing Together, would agree to pay for the requisite security arrangements.
After the university informed the group that its permits had been withdrawn, public protests from Hadash MKs, human rights organizations and lecturers convinced the university to change its position and permit the events scheduled for Tuesday, May 29 and the remainder of the week.
In response to the university’s initial rescinding of the permit, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) sent a letter on Monday to the school’s administration arguing that charging students for security “essentially sets a ‘price tag’ on expressing different, less popular opinions and is liable to prevent their being heard. It constitutes capitulation to and an incentive for persons who threaten to silence others.”
“If the university fears someone on campus might respond violently to an event,” the letter added, “it’s the university’s duty to ensure that this fear isn’t realized, even if this entails posting a great many guards.”
In contrast, both the University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev approved the organization’s events, which currently are taking place as part of the “End the Occupation Week” at all three universities, during which the students have set up booths and are handing out leaflets. Neither of the other two universities demanded that the organizers to pay for security.