July 29, 2008
Israeli Universities Step Up Criticism of Military Policy on Palestinian Students
In a scathing letter to Israel’s defense minister, the leaders of six Israeli universities have denounced a military policy that prevents Palestinians from studying in Israel as a gross violation of academic freedom, the human-rights group Gisha reported. The policy, which Gisha has challenged in petitions to Israel’s Supreme Court over the past two years, bars Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from entering Israel without permission from the army.
The letter was signed by rectors and deans of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, the University of Haifa, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Meanwhile, five Israeli professors have requested that the Supreme Court allow them to join Gisha’s latest petition, the organization said. One of the professors, Moshe Ron of the Hebrew University, wrote to the court that the policy, if unchanged, “will help those who are trying to impose an academic boycott on Israel and will severely harm Israel’s academic standing in the world, especially in Europe.”
The military ended an outright ban on allowing Palestinian students into Israel in response to a 2006 request from the court, but the human-rights group maintains that the new restrictions are even harsher, leaving many students in limbo. Last month, the court again asked the military to reconsider its policy. —Charles Huckabee
For background on the academic boycott, click here.