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References required to visit Hebrew University

um rahel | 20.10.2006 08:49 | Anti-racism | Repression

Hebrew University Demands Police Character Reference from Visitors Who
are Palestinian Citizens of Israel as Condition for Entrance to its Campuses

By Alternative Information Center (AIC)

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem demands that Palestinian citizens of
Israel who wish to visit its campuses present a character reference from
the police as a condition for entrance. An email to this effect was
received today by the Alternative Information Center (AIC), which was
planning to host a publications stand at Hebrew University next week for
the opening of the 2006/7 academic year.

“We sent a list of AIC staff members who would be running the stand in
order to arrange for their entry permits into campus,” said Yasser
Akawi, Director of the AIC. “When they realized from the names that
Palestinian citizens of Israel were involved, they replied with an email
stating that “every participant planning to come to the university who
is a minority member must bring an (official) character reference.”
‘Minority member’ is an oft-used racist term in Hebrew to refer to

Telephone conversations with members of Hebrew University’s security
department seemingly confirmed the existence of such a directive,
although repeated requests to receive a written copy of this
discriminatory rule were ignored. Contact with the Student Union proved
equally frustrating. Ostensibly representing all students at Hebrew
University, of which approximately 10 percent are Palestinian citizens,
a representative from the union expressed surprise that this racist and
discriminatory directive was offensive to the AIC. “But you don’t need a
reference,” exclaimed the representative to a Jewish AIC staff member
calling for assistance in this matter.

An initial response from Hebrew University’s Media Relations Department
noted that character references are required from Palestinian residents
of Jerusalem, who are not citizens of Israel, but not from Palestinian
citizens. A specific response to the aforementioned instance could not
be received as department staff were leaving for the weekend.

Following intensive intervention by AIC staff, an attorney from the
Palestinian legal organization Adalah and the AIC’s eventual
cancellation of its planned publications stand, the sender of the
aforementioned “minority member” email backpedaled, announcing that
entry permits would be issued for all AIC staff members.

To counter the Palestinian and international movement to boycott Israeli
universities, the Hebrew University issued a joint statement with
Al-Quds University in May 2005. This statement against boycott notes
that “our position is based upon the belief that it is through
cooperation based on mutual respect, rather than through boycotts or
discrimination, that our common goals can be achieved.” Designed to
ensure the steady flow of international research funding, this statement
does not necessarily reflect the daily reality at Hebrew University.

Bryan Atinsky
Editor, Alternative News
Tel: (972)2-624-1159
P.O. Box 31417, Jerusalem 91313

um rahel


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  1. A perfectly sensible precaution ... — Voice of Reason