November 10, 2008

The Price of telling it to Shimon Peres like it is

On 01.11.2008, chairman of the Arab Student Commitee at the Hebrew Universirty in Jerusalem, Ali Baher, was detained for three hours, summoned to a disciplinary hearing pending suspension, and evicted from his dorm room, all because he refused to shake hands with President of Israel, Shimon Peres.

According to Haaretz, Ali was studying in the university library, when the President walked in and began shaking hands with students. Ali refused to shake hands with Peres, saying that he was a child murderer and reminding him of the Qana massacre, which was carried out under Peres’s premeirship.

When the president left the library [1], Ali was assaulted by security guards, who questioned him for three hours before serving him with a demand to appear before the discplinary committee of the university, on suspicion of "inappropriate conduct". This charge can potentially lead to Ali’s suspension from the university. The guards also confiscated Ali’s student card, which restricts his access to essential university services, such as, indeed, the library.

Later on this week, Ali came home to the dorms to find his room broken into, with political sticker torn off and the door handle vandalized. He submitted a complaint to the security staff, and was visited in the morning by the manager of the dorms, Mr Yitzhak Hofy, and his staff. They made no mention of the break-in, and instead proceeded to inform Ali that his halls contract was ended, on the feeble ground that a shisha pipe was found in his room and his walls had posters on it - admittedly an infringement of dorms regulations but a fairly light and common one.


[1] note that there was not even the pretense of a security concern. The university police waited until Peres left and THEN assaulted Ali.

The above is quoted from a support blog for Ali Baher. There is an article in Haaretz, a petition and guidelines for help. Please visit and act.




Let's take a moment to remember the talking points of the opposition to the academic boycott: Israel is a democracy. One cannot compare Israel to Apartheid South Africa because Palestinians in Israel enjoy civil rights including the right to free speech. Most importanty, Israeli Universities are bastions of peace-minded progressive liberalism. Yes, that must be it.


Boycott the Hebrew University in Apartheid Jerusalem!!



Good news:
From the support blog:

On 11.11.2008, following an internet campaign and protests by students, faculty members, and academics and citizens the world over, the University returned Ali his student card, reinstated him at the dorms and canceled all disciplinary measures and summons.




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