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Daily Israel Report

Academic Freedom or Support for Terror?

Tel Aviv University allows supporters of terrorism to appear via video in “Voices from Gaza” conference.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/16/2010, 11:57 AM / Last Update: 4/16/2010, 12:22 PM

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Taxpayer-supported Tel Aviv University allowed supporters of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah to take part in a video conference Thursday titled Voices from Gaza. Participants included American professors who have voiced support for terrorist groups.

One participant was American professor Sara Roy, who argues that Israel has caused a humanitarian crisis in Gaza without which Hamas would be a pragmatic, moderate group and has accused Israel of intending to “humiliate and dehumanize” Arabs. Another participant was Richard Norton, an academic and author who has called to recognize Hizbullah.

The American side was connected to residents of Gaza, who accused Israel of causing a humanitarian crisis.

The conference was moderated by Professor Uri Hadar, who is known for his radical views, which include support for Israeli spy Tali Fahima and former MK Azmi Bishara, who fled the country when his MK immunity was cancelled and is accused of passing classified information to Hizbullah. Hadar also supports young Israelis who refuse to enlist in the IDF.

The event, first reported by Maariv, aroused anger among supporters of the university and, according to Maariv, among staff members as well.

University officials defended the conference as an expression of academic freedom. “Tel Aviv University takes care to ensure its researchers have independence and academic freedom, in this case as in others,” they said.

University staff also argued that the event should not be considered a conference, as most speakers were appearing by video. “This isn't a conference, it's passively watching a video conference,” they stated. However, there were not rebuttals to the video appearances. TAU researchers did not actively participate in the event, but merely discussed their reactions amongst themselves afterward, they said.