Hadash Students at Hebrew Univ. Fight Militarization of the Campus

A recent video clip about the Nakba and the militarization of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, put together by the Hadash student group on campus, has led to a furious backlash by right-wing groups and fascist politicians who claim the clip incites to violence against Israeli soldiers. One Knesset member has called for a criminal investigation, while other actors have demanded that the student chapter of Hadash, which created and uploaded the video to the web, be shut down.

Hadash student activists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem demonstrate for "Direct Employment" of the institution's maintenance staff rather than through private contractors, February 2020.

Hadash student activists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem demonstrate for “Direct Employment” of the institution’s maintenance staff rather than through private contractors, February 2020. (Photo: Zu Haderech)

The 4-minute clip starts out with the message “72 years to the Palestinian Nakba. And the Nakba continues to date.” It then presents a chronological sequencing of historical photographs, beginning in 1948, that briefly but powerfully surveys the key elements and events in the dispossession, oppression, occupation, uprisings and warfare against the Palestinians by Israel up until this very day. It makes several claims about the increasing militarization of the Hebrew University, for example: the fact that many soldiers in uniform attend classes at the university; that Arab students are being systematically removed from campus dorms; that Israeli snipers are stationed on the roofs of university buildings in order to take shots at protesters in occupied Palestinian neighboring of Issawiya, which has been the site of an extended campaign of police violence.

The national coordinator of Hadash students, Tareq Yassin, wrote an op-ed piece published last Wednesday, May 27, in the Hebrew-language Communist weekly Zu Haderech, in which he says: “We are fighting for the good of both peoples, for the Palestinians but also for human rights in Israel that have been trampled by a militaristic discourse.”

MK Ofir Sofer of the right-wing Yamina party submitted a complaint to the attorney general, demanding he investigate the creators and distributors of the video. Meanwhile, a number of right-wing organizations, including fascist Im Tirtzu and student associations affiliated with Likud and Blue & White, have called on the Hebrew University to respond forcefully against the Hadash students and to show support for Israeli soldiers on campus.

Ofek, the student group associated with Israel’s Labor Party, also condemned the video for being “liable to be interpreted as a call to harm groups of student soldiers,” while at the same time expressing a desire to establish “genuine partnership” with Hadash students.

Academia for Equality, an activist academic group with hundreds of Jewish and Arab lecturers in all Israeli universities and colleges, and New Profile, a feminist organization that works to end militarism in Israeli society, published a joint letter expressing support for Palestinian students battling the militarization of the campus. The letter also highlights the impact of the army intelligence program on campus, arguing that the university “needs to remain a civilian institution,” and that it has a responsibility to safeguard Arab students who “feel threatened by the military atmosphere taking over the campus.”

In an article published in Haaretz last February 13, the Hebrew University is getting ready to award academic credits to students who volunteer for the fascist group Im Tirtzu, even though university regulations state that such credits are not to be given for work with political groups.

Since 2018, the university has been giving academic credits for social service performed by students for at least 30 hours a month, and once a year it publishes a list of recognized organizations. The list includes work with welfare organizations operated by the Jerusalem municipality in hospitals; with youth, seniors, Holocaust survivors and asylum seekers; and with social service projects run by the university itself for students from socio-economically disadvantaged sectors of the population. By stark contrast, Im Tirtzu activists often attack as “foreign moles who protect terrorists” human rights NGOs, Arab students, Hadash activists and Breaking the Silence – a group publishing first-person testimonies of veterans of the Israeli army.

View the video clip produced by Hadash activists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (English, Arabic and Hebrew subtitles)