200 Haifa University students and lecturers, among them Hadash chairman MK Muhammad Barakeh, protested on Wednesday against the institution’s decision to ban a Nakba Day event scheduled by Hadash to take place on campus. The decision came two days after a “Nakba Day” memorial ceremony take place at Tel-Aviv University. Haifa University officials said that they initially authorized Arab students to hold the event at the school’s auditorium because it was presented as a play involving Arab-Palestinian well-know actor Salim Daw. But management later learned that the function was meant to serve as a memorial for the “Nakba,” or the catastrophe that befell the Palestinians with the establishment of the State of Israel 64 years ago.
The demonstration at Haifa University (Photo: Al Ittihad)
Chairman of the Hadash branch on campus, Muhammad Halaila, told “Al Ittihad” daily newspaper: “From the very beginning, the event was described to the dean as one that is meant to mark Nakba Day in collaboration with Jewish and Arab students and faculty.” Halaila, a third-year political studies and communications student at the school, accused the dean of caving in to pressure from Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and other officials. “This is a very bold statement indicating that the freedom of speech and academics are being reduced to nothing,” he said. Halaila added that the students are considering going through the appropriate legal channels to compel the university to allow such events in the future. During Wednesday’s rally, the protesters wielded Palestinian and red flags, as well as signs bearing the education minister’s image with the saying “Fascism Won’t Go Away.” They chanted slogans against oppression and in favor of coexistence between Jews and Arabs.