Suspended by Israeli universities are Palestinian students who fight their battle in the complex Israel-Palestine landscape within the academic turf. Such a situation reflects widespread socio-political tension in the relations between Israelis and Palestine, which have a lot of history. In most cases, education is perceived as a bridge for better understanding and cooperation, but it becomes one of the victims of this fighting. The question is raised as to why education, or rather the pursuit of knowledge in general, should be punished, considering that being Palestinian is not a crime.
Legal Procedures and Social Media Scrutiny
The Israeli universities seem to have punished Palestinian students in the wake of the Hamas massacres as the situation deteriorated further. More than 100 Palestinian students from 25 universities were instructed to stop studying. This has raised the eyebrows of academicians and human rights activists.
A civil rights lawyer at the Adalah Legal Centre for the Advancement of Arab Minority Rights in Israel (called Adi Mansour) notes the evident change in Israeli university behaviour from October 7 onwards. The difference that Mansour indicates is quite drastically different from acceptable legal procedures, and most requested suspensions appear more out of revenge than any legal basis. This raises a lot of doubts about the motives for such measures, especially in this emotionally tense period.
Mansour also points the finger at the use of students’ own Facebook and Twitter postings to bolster claims of anti-Israel feelings. Sometimes, universities refer to Facebook posts that were posted more than ten years ago, demonstrating an extensive and historical review of students’ online behaviour. The divergence from normal judicial procedures points towards a disturbing practice of unconventional control that is not only exerted by academic institutions upon students but also interferes with their constitutional rights.
The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (Brismes), a UK-based organization for Palestinian scholars and their students, has claimed many cases of bullying and verbal abuse through Hebrew social media and Telegram chat groups. This illustrates a more profound problem of stigma that these people face in the academic environment.
Hostilities and Violence within Israeli Universities
Public anger has taken very shocking forms in Israel with the escalation of wild measures within the country’s educational institutions and universities. On October 28, Netanya Academic College was particularly upset when a pack of attackers surrounded a hostel, where they chanted out “The death comes for Arabs”. It evidences an emergence of aggression that appears to be provoked by mounting tension in society.
On October 16, the issue was made worse when the chairman of the National Union of Israeli Students published a letter in support of expelling Palestinian students from educational institutions. Such an aggressive opinion generates enmity between the conflicting parties and adds an extra bone of contention in an already tense setting.
Petitions and faculty dismissals
In addition, a petition signed by more than ten thousand people calls for the immediate dismissal of 25 faculty members at Haifa University. These scholars urged the university to review its decision to suspend the Palestinian students suspected of supporting Hamas because the evidence was not sufficient in line with the university regulations and the relevant civil law.
It is said that at least three scholars, one with an Arab background and two with a Jewish origin, have been dismissed because they expressed sympathy for Gaza victims or condemned Israeli policies. Apart from suspensions, other professors have found themselves in trouble where others receive warnings or are forced to resign. The increasing tendency indicates a significant deterioration in the values of free communication and scholarly speech.
.Concerns and Advocacy from Brismes
The Brismes have written to 26 heads of universities and institutions in Britain, voicing worries over how Palestinians are treated on these campuses. These letters were published to speak for the right to freedom of expression and the obligation to treat Palestinian students with compassion and respect. University presidents, however, are in the majority on negative ground towards these pleas, while others ignore the plea for protective discussions.
However, the situation is becoming worse where, for instance, there is no room for many of the Palestinian academicians to participate freely, openly, and honestly in public discussion. The fear of their job security and personal safety is weighing heavily on them and does not motivate them to articulate sophisticated views about the ongoing war. The fear prevailing among the Palestinians within the academic setting, together with that at home, further aggravates the challenge and gives rise to concern for the possible consequences in such a hostile environment.
Academic Uncertainty Amid Israeli University Shutdowns
Israeli university shutdowns and the delayed start of the semester throw cold water on Palestinians, whose normalcy in academics is now at a very low certainty. As noted by educators like Anat Matar, a senior lecturer at Tel Aviv University, the existing environment of the camps seems to be too fatal to reconsider the problems that might ensue on campuses once they open again. However, Matar’s concerns are not singular ones. They represent a general uncertainty among educators concerning the effectiveness of the current educational situation in coping with today’s difficulties. In addition, the ambiguity over schools’ opening dates worsens the worries, as well as leaves both learners and teachers wondering when and how normalcy will be restored in a teaching environment.
Conclusively, the Israeli university suspensions of Palestinian students are symptomatic of the profoundness and multiplied facades inherent in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The impacts of these interruptions go far beyond the universities and touch the inner beings of these young minds as they struggle to handle such a situation. Denying education to one or another people irrespectively not only violates their fundamental rights but also makes more difficult understanding, discussion, and harmony in a society. It reminds us that peace through negotiation alone does not suffice and should extend beyond political negotiation only to include issues of educational needs, such that everyone’s dreams, including those of refugees, can be realized without the fear of being distinguished.