Your letters of support

11Nov08

 

Ali removed by guards (Activestills)

Ali removed by guards (Activestills)

Well, friends, Ali had been to the hearing and is now awaiting its results. The Dean and her deputy received our petitions (links on the right), now boasting a total of nearly 700 signatures altogether. They are now well aware of the reactions the University has generated in Israel and the world over. The answer is supposed to be delivered tomorrow (Wednesday). In the meanwhile, Alis’ eviction is postponed by a day – we hope that this is a good omen…

Since we first came out with the call to help Ali on November 8, the University received many emails in his support. If you click on “Continue reading” link below, you will find select parts from some of the more remarkable ones. You can also read some of the blog posts generated by the campaign in the “Press” section.

Please keep writing to University officials until their decision is finally made public!

Professor Yuri Pines, of the East Asian Studies department at the Hebrew University, is urging his colleagues to behave more sensibly and reminiscences about his own days as a student activist

In my own student years in the 1980’s I was a political activist, considerably more radical than Mr Baher. I was put on discplinary hearings twice- but only following massive and violent protests, which I organized at the Central Forum on Mount Scopus, and/or following assaults on security guards. In those days, when political radicalism on campus was at its peak, the University administration knew how to differentiate its disagreement with our actions from its awareness that freedom of speech on campus is any Univeristy’s most important quality. No one at the time would even have imagined to try me for an action as minor as the one performed by Mr Baher (incidentally, I behaved similarly – albeit perhaps more rudely – to Mr Rabin, who came to the campus as Minister of Defense in May 1989). It’s clear that Mr Baher’s actions posed no actual risk to either students or faculty, and the vindictiveness employed against him appears to be first and foremost as bowing to pressure from the campus security officers, who must’ve been infuriated that Ali “sabotaged” an important visit. However, it should be noted that security officers can not be running our university life. The administration should consider the meaning of its actions and their implications on the reputation of the Hebrew University.

A student from Cambridge, strongly disagrees with Ali’s actions – but nevertheless takes an unflinching stance on his freedom of speech.

As a British Jew and Zionist likely to make ‘aliyah, I urge you to understand that any reaction from Hebrew U is an assault on the freedom of expression that I am so proud of…At 60 years, Israel can afford to ignore Baher’s insult; the Israeli establishment does not need to respond to every verbal challenge to its legitimacy as if it is a threat to the solidity of Israeli society. Eroding the space for dissent, and for personal autonomy, is a far greater threat to its social cohesion and to the values that underlie Israel’s self-respect… Perhaps the most serious problem is what Hebrew U has not done: guarantee the physical integrity and social safety of one of its students, at risk because of his controversial protest.

Mr Michael Napier, of Edinburgh, relates his own handshake incident with Tony Blair – most telling.

I work at a university in Edinburgh, Scotland which was treated to a lightning visit by Tony Blair during 2004. I grasped the great man’s hand as soon as I saw him, slowed him down more than he would have wished, and reminded him that most British people consider him a notorious liar and war criminal. I reminded the accompanying TV cameras that he had willed the killing of many Iraqis and made the world a much more dangerous place for my children and grandchildren. This is my democratic right, a duty even. No one in authority took any disciplinary steps against me, of course. Many colleagues afterwards thanked me.

Ms Eva Ferrero, of Jerusalem, scolds the University for defying the most basic notion of democracy.

I grew up and lived in real democracies, where Universities were independent from any political power in charge and where police was only allowed to enter the compound with the express agreement of the Heads of the University…. To my knowledge there is no law whatsoever that obliges Israeli citizens to shake hands with their elected public representatives, who are, after all, at their service (and NOT the contrary)!!

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One Response to “Your letters of support”


  1. 1 WE WON!! « FreeSpeech ‘08: Support Ali Baher!

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