Tel Aviv U. cancels lecture by convicted terrorist

After protests by MKs, students, administration says address would ‘disrupt the public order’

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Students protest at Tel Aviv University, April 6, 2014. (screenshot: YouTube)
Students protest at Tel Aviv University, April 6, 2014. (screenshot: YouTube)

Amid mounting pressure from right-wing Knesset members and student unions,Tel Aviv University canceled a scheduled lecture by convicted terrorist Mohammed Kanaane Sunday.

Kanaane had been scheduled to speak at the university Monday to mark Land Day, which commemorates Arab protests against Israeli building policy.

The scheduled address drew protests outside the university Sunday and harsh condemnations from right-wing MKs.

“In light of concerns of disrupting the public order, and since the explicit request to have Mohammed Kanaane participate was only recently submitted, without time for evaluation, the university does not approve his participation at the event,” a statement released by the university read.

However,the statement maintained that other Land Day activities will proceed as planned.

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.

On Sunday, some 300 protesters affiliated with the student branches of the Likud, Yesh Atid and Jewish Home parties and the Im Tirtzu movement rallied against Kanaane.

Kanaane was slated to speak at an event run by the Hadash and Balad student unions in commemoration of Land Day.

The school has in the past allowed controversial events to go forward.

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.

The planned address by Kanaane was panned by right-wing Knesset members on Sunday.

Right-wing Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky called for an emergency joint meeting with the Knesset education and finance committees 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.”

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