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Hebrew University in Jerusalem Denies Freedom of Expression to Chair of Palestinian Student Unionhelp Ali in his brave nonviolent resistance
[HEBREW VERSION: http://www.atzuma.co.il/petition/freespeech2008/1/]
To: Professor Menachem Megidor, President of the Hebrew University
Professor Esther Shami, Dean of Students, Hebrew University
CC: Mr. Shimon Peres, President of the State of IsraelDear Sir and Madame,
In early November, Ali Baher, Chairman of the Arab Students Committee at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was detained for three hours, questioned, summoned to a hearing pending suspension, and evicted from his dorm room - all for refusing to shake hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Ali was studying in the university library when the president walked in and began shaking hands with the students. Ali refused to shake Peres's hand, accusing him of being a "child killer". Ali also reminded the president of the infamous Israeli shelling of a UN compound in Qana, Lebanon, in 1996, under Peres's premiership.
Immediately upon the president's departure, Ali was detained by security guards and questioned for three hours. The next day, his dormitory room on was broken into. After he filed a complaint with the university authorities, he was told that his dorm contract was terminated, and that he was to evict his room by Tuesday, November 11th.
We believe that while Ali's behavior may have been unpleasant, it falls firmly within the idea of free speech and free expression. We believe that the shameful treatment is first and foremost a political persecution, stemming from a desire to silence the leading advocate for the rights of Arab students on campus.
We demand that Ali's student card be restored, his dorms contract reinstated, and all proceedings against him will be stopped. We also demand that the University apologizes to Ali for this gross impingement of his freedom and dignity, and that the incident be struck off from his disciplinary and academic record.
We also demand that the President of Israel - publicly and ostensibly committed to democratic and liberal values - make clear his position on this outrage.
Best wishes and anticipating your swift reply, please sign the petition