Arab Students’ Event Canceled After Ben-Gurion University Bans Activities

An event scheduled to take place on Wednesday to mark the opening of the academic year for Arab students at Ben-Gurion University in the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva was canceled, after the university’s administration decided to scrap certain key parts of it without providing a reason.

The invitation to the event organized by the student union for Arab students at Ben-Gurion University (Photo: Zo Haderech)

The event, which was organized by the student union, included a daytime fair and a musical performance in the evening. However, the university refused to approve key elements of the daytime event — a Bedouin tent, and booths in which stickers with Arabic writing and traditional Arabic art were sold.

According to Haaretz, the university also disqualified two female artists, Rola Azar and Aya Khalaf, from performing at the event. Last month, the management canceled a performance by the occupied East Jerusalem oud artist, Canaan Ghoul. The reasons given by the administration for canceling the performances were fear of incitement and harming the public wellbeing, as well as bureaucratic difficulties.

Attorney Dan Yakir, legal counsel at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel says that Ghoul denies what the university’s administration attributed to him, and that it has not presented any evidence to substantiate their claims. In any case, he said, Ghoul’s “positions and views cannot be a basis for canceling his performance on campus.”

Yakir also noted that it was in fact possible to hold the performance, as had happened last week at Tel-Aviv University. Ghoul performed at an event held by Hadash student chapter, despite threats from right-wing activists. The protest at TAU was against the Arab rapper Tamer Nafar, and not against Ghoul who appeared before him on the same stage, but the university did not intervene and the two appeared under increased security in front of hundreds of students.

Yakir, who also represented Watan Madi, a Hadash activist who was convicted

in a disciplinary case for quoting an article by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish that included the word Shahid (martyr) at the Nakba ceremony that took place in May, protested the repeated violation of freedom of expression on the Ben-Gurion campus. “The university is renouncing its basic duty to protect a minority group from those who threaten to harm it,” he said.