Six of the seven universities, including top officials from the Technion, the Hebrew University, the Feinberg Seminary of the Weizmann Institute, Tel Aviv University, the University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University also protested the army’s criteria for granting permits.
In a letter sent to Defense Minister Ehud Barak on May 12, the universities charged that the criteria for considering granting entry permits to Palestinian students accepted by Israeli universities “constitutes a gross and harmful intervention by military elements in purely academic considerations.”
On the basis of national identity, Palestinian students are still being denied opportunities to pursue educational opportunities in Israel. A blanket ban was widely opposed within Israel and internationally, and was eventually overturned by The Israeli Supreme Court. However, the military continues to arrogate decision-making on who enters Israel to study which subject, with students in some subject areas (particularly physical sciences) subjected to reportedly almost unmeetable criteria.
An update from Gisha, the Israeli legal centre for freedom of movement who petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court, includes the following:
“Prof. Alon Harel of Hebrew University, who asked to join Gisha’s petition along with four other professors, said at the end of the hearing: “We are being forcibly prevented from accepting students who can make a decidedly valuable contribution to higher education in Israel. I call upon the Court and the defense establishment to respect academic freedom – the decision whether or not to accept a student needs to be the exclusive decision of the university, while the military should be limited to performing a security check.”
The Israeli Supreme Court invites Palestinian students who are being prevented from taking up their places at Israeli institutions to pursue their case, whether or not they meet the criteria established by the military, but clearly this hurdle is likely to deter or defeat Palestinian students from taking up their places.
The thing to do is to support the Israeli universities in resisting the imposition of non-security criteria, as described in the piece that David linked to above. And it’s worth reading Jon Pike again on why boycotters are so sluggish about pursuing academic freedom for Israeli academics and for Palestinians who want to study in Israel.