Haifa U. Arab students cleared for Nakba Day event
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Haifa U. Arab students cleared for Nakba Day event

Disciplinary committee finds student organizers not guilty of disturbing the peace at gathering that featured ex-terrorist

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Palestinians hold torches marking the 66th anniversary of "Nakba," or “catastrophe” referring to their uprooting in the war over Israel's 1948 creation, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, May 14, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians hold torches marking the 66th anniversary of "Nakba," or “catastrophe” referring to their uprooting in the war over Israel's 1948 creation, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, May 14, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Majdi Mohammed)

The University of Haifa’s disciplinary committee on Tuesday found in favor of three students who were suspended for organizing a campus Nakba Day commemoration that was banned by the university in May.

The university rescinded permission for the event, which was to mark Arab losses in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, several hours before it was scheduled to start, on the grounds that it posed a threat to public safety.

In response, students and lecturers gathered on campus to protest the university’s decision and proceeded to commemorate what Arabs refer to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe.”

The dean suspended and filed disciplinary charges against five student organizers for organizing an illegal campus activity.

The disciplinary committee which reviewed the incident cleared three of the five students of wrongdoing and handed down a conditional sentence for the other two.

The committee sharply criticized the university’s decision to ban the event in an effort to avoid unrest, and to call in police to disperse the students and faculty members who participated.

Political student groups Hadash and Bnei Hakfar, who sponsored the event, also invited Muhammad Kana’ane, who was previously convicted of terrorist activities, to participate in the event.

In their decision, the disciplinary committee stated that it was difficult to establish the university’s claim that the event would disturb the peace, especially in light of the fact that the protest took place without harming the public. However, the committee also stated that the dean was entitled to ban the participation of a controversial figure like Kana’ane at a university event.

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