The heads of Israel’s universities have come out strongly against a fascist proposal that would force academic institutions to suspend any student who displays the Palestinian flag or expresses support for terrorism. In a letter published Friday, the Committee of University Heads criticized the bill, that passed a preliminary reading last week as an attempt “to turn academic institutions into branches of the Israeli Police and the Shin Bet, forcing them to track hundreds of thousands of students on their premises, and to impose punishments on actions that currently are mostly protected by freedom of speech laws.”
“This is politicization and deep and unreasonable intervention in campus activities. An attempt to use academia for criminal enforcement, turning the institution managers into cops, judges and even executioners – when dealing with offences that have nothing to do with academia,” the university heads added.
Palestinian flags at the Nakba Day rally at Tel Aviv University, Monday, May 15, 2023 (Photo: Zo Haderech)
The proposal for the law, put forward by the racist Otzma Yehudit party, stipulates that three or more people waving the flag of a “hostile entity” will be considered a crime and, therefore, punishable by up to one year in prison.
The president of Tel Aviv University, Ariel Porat, went further in a separate statement, saying that if the passes, he will not enforce the law’s clause mandating the permanent expulsion of students who wave the Palestinian flag. Porat, the Tel Aviv University head, said the law would be “illegal” and predicted it would be struck by the High Court of Justice, and therefore the school will not enforce the measure if ultimately passed. Porat urged government ministers and the attorney general to oppose the proposal, which he called “fascist.”
“The Palestinian Authority is not an enemy state or a terror organization. Raising its flag is an action protected under freedom of expression,” he said. If we enforce this law if, on the measure it indeed becomes law, we will likely be forced to expel a considerable number of our students, who justly would not put up with oppression like this and will not hesitate to raise the flag of the Palestinian Authority.”
Demonstrations will be held tomorrow at universities over Israel leaded by Hadash students. According to Hadash students, “The Palestinian flag is the flag of an entire people, millions who live in the West Bank, Gaza and in Israel. People have a right to a national belonging, identity andfreedom of speech. We will fight for these rights and we will not let the bill pass without struggle”.