Female students at the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University have complained of repeated sexual harassment by Arabs from nearby Isawiya.
Talia Dekel, a student of political science and Middle Eastern studies and an activist in neo-Zionist student movement Im Tirtzu, told Israel National News, “We’ve specifically heard of female students who are being harassed both verbally and sometimes physically on their way to and from the dorms, and in the daytime on Shabbat when there are less people around,” she said. “Usually there is no one there to stop them. It’s just out of luck that nothing serious has happened. I heard of two cases in the last two or three months, of young boys aged 15 or 16 from the nearby village of Isawiya coming up behind girls who went jogging and grabbing them from behind.”
The university acknowledges that a “serious problem” exists and initial steps have been taken by Hebrew U. and the Jerusalem municipality to increase security, including beefed up patrols and the installation of security lighting last week. The Community Administration of French Hill also confirmed the pattern of Arab harassment, both sexual
The university acknowledges that a “serious problem” exists.
The only official body that does not seem to believe that a real problem exists is the police – who say that only three such complaints were filed in the course of the past year.
The Maariv-NRG website reported about the harassment phenomenon Wednesday – a fact that is news in itself, according to Erez Tadmor, Director of Im Tirtzu, which has been gaining strength on Israeli campuses. “Reports about Arab sexual harassment are not considered ‘politically correct’ and are thus not reported until something very serious happens,” Tadmor explained.
A repeated pattern
Shlomo Levi, who headed the Hebrew University’s Student Union until recently, said that the phenomenon is “not marginal or transitory,” but rather “a repeated pattern of harassment and of disruption of the daily routines of the students, on a daily basis.”
“There is no reason why students should feel fear or concern on their way from the university,” he added.
The area which students fear most is Churchill Avenue, which leads to the university, and the nearby parking lots, which are dark and largely deserted at night.
Student fought off attackers
Gili, a student at the Bezalel art academy, recently left the campus at a late evening hour and headed towards her dormitory apartment. When she reached the square next to the English cemetery, she said, she was attacked by two Arab youths who she believes came from Isawiya, but managed to fight them off and escape.
Shachar, a male student at the Faculty of the Humanities, told of suffering an unprovoked attack when he left the faculty at around 10 p.m. one night with a friend. On their way to his car, they passed by three Arab youths who were playing in the parking lot. When they got into the car, a rock smashed through the window and hit Shachar’s friend.
Michal, another humanities student, said that she was followed by a group of Arab youths who whistled at her and offered to “come sleep in bed with us.”
Yochanan Bechler of the French Hill Community Administration said that the problem has existed for years and that not just students are affected. “There were female high school students who also complained of verbal harassment,” he said. “It is all because the neighborhood is very open, so people from the entire area, including eastern Jerusalem, come here to sit in the coffee shops." Bechler said that police are very active in the area, but perhaps not active enoug
“Im Tirtzu has been calling for the establishment of a civilian guard made up of volunteers from the university to escort the girls to and from the dorms."
“Im Tirtzu has been calling for the establishment of a civilian guard in coordination with the police, made up of volunteers from the university to escort the girls to and from the dorms,” Dekel explained.
Dekel added that Im Tirtzu has been accused of raising the issue out of political considerations. “You are not supposed to talk about it,” she explained, “because the [harassers] are coming from a certain sector. People have been saying ‘you are only [talking about] it because they are Arabs.’ I am offended by that,” she said.
Jerusalem Councilor Yakir Segev, who holds the municipality’s Eastern Jerusalem portfolio, said Tuesday that he has succeeded in causing the police and university security to beef up their presence near the university in the evening hours, and that lighting was installed last week along the path next to the cemetery.
“In the future,” he said, “the sidewalks and fences in the area will be set up in a way that ensures safe passage for the female students.”
Hebrew University said that the university management “is aware of the severity of the problem and has met with the student representatives to think of solutions for preventing harassment and helping the female students. At the same time, the university’s security department decided to initiate evening patrols to the deter the harassers and increase the feeling of security.”
The Jerusalem Police said that the police receive “full and good cooperation from the university management and the community administration in the neighborhood… and this activity has brought about meaningful results.”
The police said they received only three complaints regarding harassment in the area over the last year, and the harassers have already been captured.
The woman who was attacked in Jerusalem Tuesday night (Israel news photo -- IsraelNN TV screenshot)
Attack in Jerusalem
An Arab attacked a Jewish woman in central Jerusalem late Tuesday night, but he escaped after she put up a struggle. The woman told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news service that she had returned from a late-night restaurant outing with her friends at 1:30 a.m. and sensed that she was being followed when she was climbing the stairs to her apartment.
As she was closing the door to the apartment, an Arab man tried to force his way in. She struggled with him, sensing that he was about to kill or rape her, and in the end he grabbed only her bag and a necklace and escaped. He was later arrested.