designed to benefit Jewish school-leavers applying for places in
Israeli higher education at the cost of their Arab counterparts have
been criticised by lawyers and human rights groups.
new initiatives are viewed as part of an ongoing drive by right-wing
politicians in Israel to demand “loyalty” from the country’s large
minority population of Arab citizens.
have termed the measures, including a programme to provide financial
aid exclusively to students who have served in the Israeli army, a form
of “covert discrimination”.
Jews are conscripted into the military, Israel’s Arab citizens are
generally barred from serving.
came to a head last week over reports that Tel Aviv University had
reserved a large number of dormitory places for discharged soldiers,
leaving Arab students facing a severe shortage of university
accommodation in the coming academic year.
addition, only former soldiers will be eligible in future for large
subsidies on tuition fees under an amended law passed last month.
students already face many obstacles to pursuing higher education,
according to the Dirasat policy research centre in Nazareth. These
include psychometric exams -- a combined aptitude and personality test
that has been criticised as culturally biased -- and minimum age
restrictions for courses, typically at age 21, when soldiers finish
their three-year service.
Aviv university’s decision has come under fire because it will put
further pressure on Arab students to forgo higher education.
Arab families live far from Tel Aviv, with limited public transport
connections. High poverty rates also mean few are able to afford private
rooms for their children, and Arab students already complain that
private landlords refuse to rent to them.
comprising only five per cent of the student body at Tel Aviv
university, Arabs won about 40 per cent of dorm places last year, when
rooms were awarded using social and economic criteria, said Mohammed
Awadi, a Tel Aviv student leader.
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
university management has told us that most Arab students will be
rejected because preference will be given to military service,” he said.
“The message is that they would rather have a university without any
Arabs at all.”
Dirasat’s director, said the university’s decision represented
an increasingly hardline attitude from its officials. “What is so
worrying is that a supposedly liberal academic institution -- not the
right-wing government -- is promoting discrimination,” he said.
Joseph Klafter, the university’s president, was reported to be
inspecting course reading lists for signs of what officials called
“post-Zionist bias”, or criticism of Israel’s founding ideology.
Zaher, a lawyer with Adalah, a legal centre in Haifa, said the new
rules on subsidised tuition and student housing were part of the
government’s “loyalty drive”, a programme of reforms that has been
decried for creating an overtly hostile political climate towards the
has been spearheaded by the Yisrael Beitenu party of the
foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, whose election slogan was “No
loyalty, no citizenship”.
of military service as a criterion for awarding student housing was
ruled discriminatory two years ago by Haifa district court. The
government, however, quickly amended the law, allowing universities to
change their rules, as Tel Aviv University has now done.
University, which has the largest Arab student population, also
reserves dorm rooms for former soldiers.
leaders have suggested in the past that the Arab minority can be
encouraged to emigrate by restricting access to higher education. Benny
Elon, a former cabinet minister, notoriously summed up the policy as: “I
will close the universities to you, I will make your lives difficult,
until you want to leave.”
the parliament approved a package of additional financial benefits
to encourage former soldiers to study in “peripheral areas”, including
three colleges in West Bank settlements.
Shalom, an Israeli peace group, warned that the law would push Israel’s
academic system “deeper into complicity with the occupation” and
bolster the movement for an academic boycott of Israel.
Zaher said the government appeared determined to push farther along the
same path. Last month a ministerial committee approved a draft bill
that would allow private businesses to award extra benefits to former
Arabs are a quarter of
the college-age population, they comprise only eight per cent of the
students attending Israeli universities.
Dirasat survey last year showed that half of Arab students -- about
5,400 -- chose to study abroad, mainly in neighbouring Jordan, because
of the difficulties they faced in Israel.
Zaher said that introducing discriminatory measures at universities
would exacerbate already stark socio-economic disparities in Israel.
Poverty rates among Arab families are three times those of the Jewish
than trying to remedy the discrimination by investing extra budgets to
help the Arab community, public and private institutions are being
encouraged to widen the gaps,” she said.
Zaher was due this week to send a letter to the Yehuda Weinstein, the
attorney-general, calling for the government to stop tying basic rights
to military service.
Aviv University, Arab students expressed concern about the new rules.
Abu Hussein, a film studies student from Umm al-Fahm in northern
Israel, said she had been told to vacate her dorm by October, when her
second year begins.
hard to find affordable private rooms in Tel Aviv for anyone but
if you’re an Arab it’s especially difficult,” she said. “A lot of the
landlords are racist and don’t want an Arab in their properties.”
Aviv university was unavailable for comment.
Cook is a
writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are
“Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to
Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine:
Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.