8 Haifa University students suspended for incitement have punishment repealed

At Ben-Gurion University, administration seeks suspension in a similar case after disciplinary committee hands out community service

Aerial view of the Haifa University. September 20, 2018. (Matanya Tausig/FLASH90)
Aerial view of the Haifa University. September 20, 2018. (Matanya Tausig/FLASH90)

Eight Arab Israeli students at the University of Haifa who were suspended last week for post-October 7 social media comments that were seen as expressing support for Hamas have had their suspension repealed.

The university announced Saturday that the suspension was no longer in effect, after an appeal by Adalah, a civil rights organization focusing on Israel’s Arab citizens, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

The students were to have been suspended pending the results of a disciplinary process, which the students will still undergo. The university has also started a mediation process with the students in question.

The disciplinary panel said in its original ruling that the presence of students accused of incitement could cause damage to the campus atmosphere after university rector Guy Alroey said that their continued presence could cause “extreme situations.”

The students in response said the suspension would negatively impact their education, and that the university did not specify what damage their presence would cause to campus life.

Alroey told the Haaretz daily that students shared photos of the Hamas onslaught on their accounts, captioning them with “good morning” and “they deserve it.” Witnesses present at the initial disciplinary hearing said Alroey controversially showed seven minutes of disturbing footage from the October 7 massacres, intending to justify the swift suspension of the students.

The decision to reverse the suspension will avoid causing the students “major damage” in their academic careers, and “we hope that the mediation procedure will indeed lead to an understanding between the two” sides, commented Adi Mansour, Adalah Center attorney, Haaretz reported.

Mansour added that the case has “greatly contributed to difficult feelings among students and faculty members, as the current climate at the university harms the safety of Arab students.”

In a similar situation, administrators at Ben-Gurion University said Sunday that they would seek suspension of a student accused of writing inflammatory posts after October 7. The university’s own disciplinary committee had initially given the student a reprimand and 40 hours of community service.

The student’s identity and the exact details of the posting are confidential, but it was an “inappropriate and disturbing reaction to the massacre,” according to a university statement.

Although the student took down the post and sent a letter of apology, the university will seek suspension, a university spokesperson told the Times of Israel.

“Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s administration strongly condemns the way the student addressed the October 7 massacre on social media. There is no room here for narratives or context — Hamas and its collaborators perpetrated murder and crimes against humanity. Any other way to present the events of that day is a lie and there is no place for the propagation of ‘fake news’ by anyone in the university community. The university will not tolerate any form of support for terrorism, the horrific murders of October 7, or racism, and will deal with any instances to the fullest,” the administration said in its statement.

During the October 7 massacre, thousands of Hamas-led terrorists rampaged through southern communities, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping some 240 people others to Gaza.

Out of the hundreds of disciplinary processes that have been launched against students, mostly Arab, for allegedly supporting terror, rulings have so far been issued in 65 cases, according to data from Adalah. Only 12 of those have ended in the expulsion of a student.

About half of the rulings have found the students innocent, six students were given an “educational punishment” — such as writing an apology letter or performing community service, and 14 processes have ended in temporary suspensions, according to the group.

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