Jewish students at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at Haifa University complained over the weekend that Arab students made noise, whistled, shrieked, and laughed all throughout the sounding of the sirens on Yom Hashoa, Holocaust Memorial Day, last Thursday. Army Radio interviewed students from both schools who said that the Arabs talked during the sounding of the sirens, and when they were asked to respect the moment, they began shouting and laughing. The incidents occurred in numerous classrooms and sites on both campuses, the students said.
One Hebrew University student said that he, along with classmates, had gone out into the hallway from their classroom, with all the Jewish students standing at attention with bowed heads. Not only did the Arab students not do so, he said, but “they laughed and shouted in Arabic, and sang songs. Some people tried to quiet them, but they continued. These are not sounds we usually hear at the university. It sounded as if someone planned a provocation,” the student said.
A student at Haifa University told a similar story. “Some of the students went out of class during the siren, while I remained inside with several others. When the sirens sounded the Jewish students stood up while the Arabs talked loudly, joking and laughing. I asked them to be quiet, but they just yelled louder,” she said.
An Arab student at Haifa University who leads the local Hadash (Communist) Party group at the school said that the Arabs were victims of lies. “I am aware of these complaints,” Muhammad Halaila said. “They were designed to incite riots on campus and to hurt the image of the university. These students have an agenda. It is true that some Arab students did not stand up, but there was no laughing and cheering.”
Haifa University said in a statement that “we are not aware of these incidents, and if such incidents did occur we strongly condemn them. The university educates students to have respect for others, and we condemn any attempt to hurt the feelings of others.” Hebrew University responded to the incidents by saying that “we are sorry that there are some students who do not know how to respect the feelings of their fellow students. The university did not receive any official complaints on the matter. If such complaints are received and are found to be correct the university will take disciplinary steps agains the offenders.”