Haifa U. Students Protest Ban on Israeli Arab MK Who Sailed on Gaza Flotilla

Hanin Zuabi claims the university is using 'Shin Bet tactics' in order to limit Arab student activity.

Balad party supporters at the University of Haifa will hold a rally there today to protest the university's refusal to allow MK Hanin Zuabi of Balad to participate in a student political activity on campus.

Arab MK Hanin Zuabi
Michal Palti

Zuabi became an object of controversy for taking part in the Turkish flotilla aimed at breaking Israel's blockade of Gaza in May, which ended with an Israeli naval raid and on-board skirmish that left nine Turkish citizens dead.

The MK had been scheduled to participate Monday in a student activity focusing on the political situation over the past year, and there is a chance she may show up despite the ban.

"No one can prevent me from going to a university and standing together with my constituency," Zuabi wrote in a letter to Yoav Lavee, the dean of students. "My participation in the event is part of my parliamentary activities, just as my participation in the freedom flotilla constituted a humanitarian, ethical, civic and political obligation of the first order and was part of my parliamentary activities."

Zuabi said the university was using the same tactics as the Shin Bet security service to keep Arab political activity to a minimum.

"The Shin Bet generally uses the argument of 'disturbing the public order' to limit the political and public activity of Arab citizens, and that's what the university is doing, with the goal of limiting Arab student activity," she said.

The Balad campus group asked the university on October 24 for permission to have Zuabi take part in the activity, but got no response until yesterday.

Lavee told the Balad group, which was expecting between 150 and 200 students at the activity, that Zuabi could not come because various groups on campus were planning to use the event as an excuse for exhibiting violent behavior.

Knesset members are explicitly entitled by law to go to any public place in the country, except for national security-related limitations.