Tent council - Nir Keidar - August 2, 2011
Representatives from tent cities across Israel meet in Tel Aviv University, August 2, 2011 Photo by Nir Keidar
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A group of Tel Aviv University students is planning a major demonstration on Wednesday on campus in an effort to revive this summer's nationwide social protest movement and bring it onto the Tel Aviv campus. The protesters' initial demand is for free university tuition through a bachelor's degree.

Organizers are calling their association Operation Sourasky, a reference to the university's Sourasky Library near which the organization's members held discussion groups. "This is a general campaign to get market forces out of academia," said one of the activists in the protest, Rafael Yoha. "It will start at Tel Aviv University and we very much hope it will spread to the other academic institutions in the country."

He called a bachelor's degree essential to making a respectable living in Israel, and said no one should be deprived of earning such a degree for financial reasons. "We are more radical than the summer's social protest," Yoha said, "because we identify the nexus between society and politics."

Yesterday members of the group released a public appeal claiming that education is being privatized and asserting that "knowledge is always such that it serves a specific business sector," saying that its value is always gauged in relation to "the economic benefit and the aggression that the economic-political structure seeks to preserve for itself."

The protest comes against the backdrop of an effort by the university's security department to enlist the help of faculty members to identify students who appeared on a YouTube video. The students were expected to stage a protest on campus. University President Joseph Klafter then denounced the move by the security department and said it would be investigated. Prior to Klafter's statement, however, the university had explained the security department's action in a statement to Haaretz as a response to information about activists' intentions to "illegally fortify themselves in the [Sourasky] central library."

In the aftermath of the controversy, one of the national leaders of the social protest movement, Stav Shaffir, announced her support for the demand for free university education toward a bachelor's degree, saying that her own colleagues had made tuition-free education a priority demand.