Daily Israel Report

Professors to State: Allow Free College for Terrorists

Dozens of lecturers at the Open University call on the State of Israel to allow terrorists to study in universities while in prison.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/20/2013, 3:32 AM

Prisoners in Ofer jail (archive)
Prisoners in Ofer jail (archive)
Flash 90

Dozens of lecturers from the Open University have signed an ad calling on the State of Israel to allow terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons to study in universities while in prison.

In the ad, which is entitled "Opinion on the studies of security prisoners", the lecturers and a number of employees of the Open University protest the State’s preventing what they term is “the right of inmates to academic studies”.

“We protest the Supreme Court's decision not to require the State to allow Palestinian prisoners to exercise their right to education and go to university,” wrote the signatories.

The signatories are relying on a ruling by former Supreme Court President Justice Aharon Barak, who wrote that “prison walls cannot distinguish between a prisoner and his dignity as a human being.”

The Open University offers extensive distance-learning programs, enabling students to do coursework via the Internet, with scheduled meetings with mentors.

In December, the Supreme Court ruled that terrorist security prisoners were not eligible for free university education in Israeli schools. The permission and assistance extended to prisoners convicted of criminal activities that supplies them with free courses and degree programs at Israel's Open University does not apply to prisoners convicted of terror activities, the court ruled.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by three terrorist prisoners who claimed they were being discriminated against because prison authorities refused to enroll them in an Open University program and pay their tuition.

The three terrorists later asked the Court to hold another discussion over its ruling, claiming that the ruling sharply contradicts the long-standing law which prohibits arbitrary distinction between security and criminal prisoners.

They further claimed that the new ruling states that the conditions of a prisoner can be worsened simply because of he is classified as a security prisoner.

In 2010, the number of inmates enrolled in the Open University stood at 270, of which 60 were classified as criminal prisoners and the rest were security prisoners.

In the past, Israeli prisons provided terrorists with free college education, but the practice was halted recently.