Haifa District Court ruled on Tuesday that the Arab students who had been suspended from classes at the University of Haifa following a protest event marking Nakba Day will be returning to class on Sunday. During the hearing, Judge Sari Jayoussi criticized the dean’s power to suspend students without a disciplinary procedure and in violation of the Student Rights Law. Attorney Sawsan Zaher of the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel claimed that the university had given no serious consideration to the students’ right to freedom of expression and had also punished them without due process.
The students — Tariq Yassin, the head of the students’ forum of Hadash and Ahmed Masalha, the head of the students’ division of the Abnaa el-Balad (Sons of the Village) movement, will return to classes, though they have been barred from participating in any other campus activity without the university’s permission. About 10 days ago, university officials announced they were turning down the request of student members of Hadash and Sons of the Village to hold an event, planned for May 12, 2014, to mark Nakba Day. The university justified its refusal to allow the activity on the grounds that such an event could “endanger public security.” In response, and in protest of the university’s refusal to allow the activity for the past three years, the students held a protest event. University officials announced on May 15, 2014 that it was suspending two of the students, Yassin and Masalha, from classes as punishment for their involvement in the protest.
Early this week, lecturers from all over Israel and lecturers from the University of Haifa sent a letter of protest to the university administration. Students also circulated an online petition, addressed to the president, rector and dean of students, against the administration’s treatment of Hadash groups and Arabs.