Confrontation as Hebrew University Arab Students Mark 'Nakba'

Arab and Jewish students at Hebrew University squared off against each other when a group of Arab students protested against Israel's creation.

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Nissan Ratzlav-Katz ,

Arab-Israeli students protest the state
Arab-Israeli students protest the state

Arab and Jewish students at Hebrew University squared off against each other on campus this Tuesday, despite the ongoing student boycott of classes, when a group of Arab students staged a march and demonstration condemning the foundation of the State of Israel as "the catastrophe," or "Nakba" in Arabic. This was the ninth year that Arab students at the Jerusalem university have so marked Israel's establishment on May 15 in the civil calendar (Israelis, however, mark Independence Day on the 5th day of the month of Iyar, according to the Jewish calendar).

This year, the Arab students' event was particularly inflammatory, as it fell on the eve of Jerusalem Day, which marks the re-unification of the capital under Israeli sovereignty during the 1967 Six Day War. The Zionist student group called Im Tirtzu ("If You Will It") organized an active patriotic counter-demonstration to greet the Arab student protesters. The Jerusalem police department, which had been warned of potential clashes, deployed a heavy presence at the campus entrance, where it eventually managed to keep the sides separate.

In the morning, dozens of Arab students took an organized trip to the ruins of an abandoned Arab village in the Jerusalem area. Afterwards, when the students returned to Hebrew University for a pre-planned anti-Israel demonstration, they were greeted by an equally large crowd of patriotic Jewish students waving Israeli flags and chanting pro-Israel slogans. Arab students claimed that some of the Jewish students attempted to beat them, leading campus security to separate the two groups and force them off campus grounds.

Outside the school, the pro- and anti-Israel demonstrations continued, with the street, police and physical barriers dividing the two groups from one another.

Arab students chanted pan-Arab and anti-Israel slogans, including the Palestinian Authority anthem Biladi, "Palestine is Arab" and chants linking Beirut, Gaza and Jenin. The Arab demonstrators also denigrated Israel as a "police state," and called for "national unity" over the "Syrian Golan Heights," terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails and what they called "the right of return" for Arab refugees currently outside Israel.

As police reinforced their presence, the Arab demonstrators flashed the "V for Victory" hand gesture and concluded with chants of "Here Palestine was lost and here we will regain it."



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