College Students Burn Tires to Protest Funds for Torah Study

The students are upset that under a proposed law, yeshiva students would get income allowances for studying and not working, while they get no such benefits.

Dozens of students came out to demonstrate and burn tires at Ben-Gurion University, Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University yesterday, to protest the bill that would restore income allowances to yeshiva students.

Tonight, the Jerusalem Students Union is planning another, larger protest in the capital.
The so-called yeshiva bill is intended to restore income allowances for yeshiva students, which were banned by the High Court of Justice several months ago. The court ruled that they were discriminatory.

students - Tomer Appelbaum - November 1 2010
Tomer Appelbaum

The students are upset that yeshiva students would get income allowances for studying and not working, while they get no such benefits.

Hebrew University President Menachem Ben-Sasson and rector Prof. Sarah Stroumsa announced yesterday that classes would end today in the late afternoon so students and faculty could attend the demonstration.

The first protest of the day yesterday was at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, where a small group of students burned tires at the entrance to the campus.

At Tel Aviv University, a few dozen students held a protest at Antin Square. They also burned tires on the roofs of the campus’ main buildings; the tires were quickly extinguished.

Tel Aviv University Student Union chairman Ran Livneh called on students to attend today’s rally in Jerusalem, saying: “This black smoke symbolizes the anger of students over the discrimination inherent in the yeshiva student law. Don’t be indifferent. Get out of your houses and fight discrimination. We also deserve government support, just like the yeshiva students,” he said.

The main demonstration has been called for 7 P.M. at Paris Square near the Prime Minister’s Residence, and will continue with a march to Zion Square in the heart of the capital’s downtown.

A statement released yesterday by Ben-Sasson and Stroumsa said: “The leadership of the Hebrew University shares the concern of students and welcomes the fact that they have been called upon to let their voices be heard. The allocation of government aid to students is inseparably tied to the status of higher education in Israel. Although the Hebrew University does all it can to make things easier for students through stipends and grants, most of our students fund their studies themselves. The government should support learning and knowledge, and no one is more deserving of this support than our students.”

Hundreds of students attended rallies Wednesday, organized by the National Students Union, at universities and colleges throughout the country. Students demonstrated at Ben-Gurion University, Bar Ilan University, the Hebrew University, the Technion and the University of Haifa. In some cases, they also blocked road near the campuses.

Students from several colleges participated in a convoy that drove slowly along the coastal highway, creating traffic jams. At Ben-Gurion University, seven students were arrested. They were questioned by police and released.