Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Justice for Sapir Reservist

In December, I blogged about the Arab teacher who had kicked out a student from his class who had come in to his class in uniform. Despite the 40 colleagues who rallied for him, justice has been served ...

Israeli Arab lecturer told to say he respects students' right to wear IDF uniform
By Tamara Traubmann, Haaretz Correspondent

An Arab filmmaker must declare that he respects the uniform of the Israel Defense Forces in order to continue working as a lecturer at Sapir College, the institution's president, Prof. Ze'ev Tzahor, has decided.

The decision stemmed from an incident in November, when a student on leave from his annual reserve duty showed up in uniform to Nizar Hassan's class. Hassan asked the student, Eyal Cohen, to leave, and when Cohen refused, the lecturer forbade him to talk for the rest of the class. Hassan said that he refuses to teach soldiers, and therefore, Cohen would only be allowed to talk if he came to class in civilian dress.

The incident aroused an uproar, and Tzahor ordered a disciplinary hearing. Last week, the disciplinary committee, comprised of other lecturers at the college, published its conclusion: that Hassan's behavior "merited the harshest condemnation," and that he should be required to apologize to Cohen. While a lecturer has every right to express political views, the committee wrote, he has no right to try to force them on his students.

Tzahor forwarded these findings to Hassan, but added that in making his apology, the lecturer should "discuss respect for the IDF uniform and the absolute right of any student to enter your class in uniform." He added that he would not accept an apology that did not meet this requirement.

Hassan's attorney, Eti Livni, wrote to Tzahor this week and asked him to withdraw this demand, calling it "humiliating, racist and discriminatory" and accusing him of having "caved in to heavy political pressure," including from the army.

In addition, a group of Sapir students plan to demonstrate against Tzahor's decision Wednesday, saying that no other lecturer has ever been asked to declare his respect for the IDF uniform. Some 20 students have signed a letter saying they would leave the collage if Hassan were fired.

In response, Tzahor said: "I did not intend to humiliate [Hassan] or demand an oath of loyalty to the IDF and its uniform, but for Nizar to write a personal letter to the student in which he declares that he respects the fact that the student was wearing an IDF uniform."

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