Arab Student Claims She Was Beaten at TAU Demo

A Tel Aviv University student said she was beaten during a protest near the campus against Turkey and in favor of the Israel Defense Forces following the recent Gaza-bound flotilla affair.

The Arab student from Kafr Qasem who says she was attacked
Alon Ron

Fatma Isa, 19, from Kafr Qasem, said that while she was being beaten, "all the protesters stood around and laughed. No one helped me."

Yesterday Isa filed a police complaint about the attack with the assistance of the Tel Aviv Student Union.

The protest, sponsored by the right-wing Im Tirtzu group, began at 2 P.M. on June 2 at the main entrance to the campus in Ramat Aviv. Isa, a first-year student in anthropology and sociology, and a friend, Halima Agbariyeh, a 21-year-old sociology student from Umm al-Fahm, were on their way to class. Isa, a Muslim, wears a head scarf.

"We crossed the road and in seconds we were surrounded," she said yesterday. "I didn't say anything and I wasn't looking for trouble. A protester pushed me and I fell to the ground. No one helped me. I got up and tried to protect myself, but he kept on kicking me."

"I tried to help her," added Agbariyeh. "Because I don't wear a head scarf, the violent protester wasn't sure I was an Arab and therefore didn't attack me, too."

The two women said the attack was over in seconds, and they were not sure whether police or security guards had seen it because they were surrounded at the time by the protesters.

Isa said that when she noticed a protest was under way, she imagined people would make remarks, "but I never thought they would beat me up. I was always told the atmosphere at Tel Aviv University is okay, there's no violence against Arabs."

Calling the alleged attack "a criminal act," student union chairman Shahar Botzer said, "For years we have been proud of the coexistence and the good atmosphere between Jewish and Arab students at the university. To our shock we discover that the scourge of racism and violence is at our door as well."

Tel Aviv University responded: "In light of the submission of a police complaint, we will examine the incident."

Im Tirtzu's reaction: "If the student was indeed attacked, we call on the police to find the attackers and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. If this turns out to be a false complaint, the complainant should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."