The decision to allow a convicted terror operative to lecture at a student-run event at Tel Aviv University drew sharp criticism by several right-wing MKs Sunday and sparked a protest rally attended by some 300 students.
Mohammed Kanaane, an Arab-Israeli, served four-and-a-half years in prison over his involvement with Hezbollah and for receiving funds from Palestinian terror cells toward the production of weapons.
Kanaane is slated to speak at the university in the coming days at an event run by the Hadash and Balad student unions in commemoration of Land Day.
Three hundred protesters affiliated with the student branches of the Likud, Yesh Atid and Jewish Home parties and the Im Tirzu movement rallied Sunday against Kanaane.
Right-wing Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky called for an emergency joint meeting with the Knesset education and finance committees Sunday regarding the hosting of Kanaane.
The ruling “is very serious, especially since it is an institution that is partially financed by public funds,” he said. “This is not about the freedom of speech, but rather the freedom of degradation,” he added.
Both Slomiansky and fellow Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked issued a public appeal to students to continue efforts against the event.
Shaked attacked both the university administration and left-wing political parties which, she claimed, are attempting to import the incitement against Israel disseminated daily on university campuses in Europe and North America, to Israel.
“I am astounded that the university administration lends its hand to this outrageous decision, to give a platform and pay tribute to terror, to war,” she said. “How can they allow a man, who could have easily led to the deaths of those same students before whom he will appear to speak, deliver his hate speeches against Israel?”
“This is an irresponsible and anti-Israeli action,” Shas member Eli Yishai said. “It sends a dangerous message, that being a convicted terrorist does not hinder one from being a welcome figure in Israeli academia.”
The university released a statement defending the event, and maintaining that it does not constitute a violation of Israeli law.
“The university is careful to allow freedom of speech on campus, and approves public activity on behalf of the students, in accordance with the law in the State of Israel and with previous court rulings,” it said.
The school has in the past allowed controversial events. In 2012, clashes broke out near the school over an event to mark the Palestinian Nakba or catastrophe, which commemorates the founding of the State of Israel. A smaller rally and counter-rally was held in 2013 as well, though with heavy police presence.