The Israeli Supreme Court, that toothless wonder when it comes to confronting the national security state, has permitted the state intelligence apparatus to throw up an entirely new set of non-security criteria in order to prevent Palestinians from studying at Israeli universities.
Now, in addition to proving they’re intellectually worthy of academic study, a would-be Palestinian enrollee will have to prove they are not a security risk AND surmount a whole host of non-security barriers including the following:
• Only PhD and Masters students will be considered and only if there is no practical alternative to studying in Israel
• Preference will be given to applicants to programs focusing on regional cooperation or developing coexistence and regional peace. The Education Ministry must testify as to the nature of the program
• Palestinians will not be allowed to study professions that have the potential to be used against Israel.
• The applicant will have to provide the army with a detailed request from a recognized academic institution explaining the grounds on which the institution wants him to study there
• There will be no further examination if the applicant has a security or criminal record.
• The army will take into account the age of the applicant and his personal status.
• The army, at its own discretion, may refuse to consider an applicant even if the student meets the above criteria.
These new and improved regulations (for the intelligence apparatus, that is) are quite astonishing. What they reveal is a nation that has decided that its institutions of higher learning are largely meant to exclude Palestinians. The military gets to determine which professions have the potential to harm Israel. Given that the same military determines that musical instruments are too dangerous to allow into Gaza, you can imagine how this could be interpreted: what, you want to study special education? Forget it. You might brainwash some poor child into becoming a shahid.
You’ll note that preference will be given to those enrolling in programs supporting “regional cooperation or developing coexistence.” Forgive me my cynicism but I’m interpreting “cooperation” a little differently than some might. Shouldn’t we be the least suspicious that “regional cooperation” might mean educating those Palestinians who will give the security services the most bang for their buck when they return to Palestine? Recruiting spies and collaborators? That certainly couldn’t be possible.
Regarding the age and “personal status” criteria, the defense ministry wishes to prevent young, single Palestinians from studying in Israel. If you’re an old geezer, married and with a few kids you’re more likely to pass the test.
The final criteria simply allows the military to reject any candidate for any reason or no reason at all. This is the way things work in the national security state. We do it the way I say because I say. You don’t like it. You can go to hell. Who cares what you bloody simpering leftist dupes think anyway.
Israeli university officials are not pleased. Imagine, they’re under the rather quaint impression that only academic critieria should be used to determine whether a candidate merits admission to a university. Where do they think they are? Harvard? Oxford? We’ve got a garrison state to run here and have no luxury to run things as they do in the effete west:
“We are being forcibly prevented from accepting students who can make a decidedly valuable contribution to higher education in Israel,” Hebrew University Law Prof. Alon Harel said, following the court ruling.
“I call upon the court and the defense establishment to respect academic freedom. The decision whether or not to accept a student must be the exclusive decision of the university, while the military should be limited to performing a security check.”
Six of the seven universities, including top officials from the Technion, the Hebrew University, the Feinberg Seminary of the Weizmann Institute, Tel Aviv University, the University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University also protested the army’s criteria for granting permits.
In a letter sent to Defense Minister Ehud Barak on May 12, the universities charged that the criteria for considering granting entry permits to Palestinian students accepted by Israeli universities “constitutes a gross and harmful intervention by military elements in purely academic considerations.”
But hey, they have nothing to fear–those fearless judges have provided a powerful tool for rejected candidates. They can appeal to the Supreme Court for review. So get this, the Israeli Supreme Court is now in the business of vetting candidates to university.
So say you want to go an Israeli law school. You thought all you had to do was score well on your LSATs, write a good essay, do an internship, and your record would speak for itself. Not so fast. Here’s how I picture a meeting of the Hebrew University admissions committee: in the room are the admissions director, perhaps a representative of the academic department. They’re joined by an IDF intelligence officer smoking one of those big, fat cigars. The academics mull over the candidates and pass the finalists to the Lt. Col. As he’s blowing smoke rings through the air, he gives a thumbs up to a few and thumbs down to all the rest. Then he passes the files back to the academics who dutifully file out of the office and report on who the IDF has chosen for next year’s law school class.
Then maybe they’ll keep a law clerk for a Supreme Court justice in a side room and he’ll get all the dossiers of those who’ve appealed their rejection. He’ll huddle with the justice and together they’ll be final arbiters of who the real bad apples are.
Those few Palestinians who pass the rigors of this test will either be saints, octogenarians, or Shin Bet plants.
The original complainant in this case was Palestinian chemistry grad student, Sawsan Salameh. Though the army originally rejected her as an enrollee, it eventually relented and she currently is pursuing her PhD and doing research at Hadassah Hospital.
Here are the restrictions this dangerous Palestinian woman faces:
…The military permit she received prevents her from going beyond Jerusalem or staying over in Jerusalem; she must be out of the city by 7 p.m. each day.
This means that she cannot attend any lecture that ends later than 5:30, since it takes her one-and-a-half hours to get to her home, which is located north of the city, from the Hadassah-University Medical Center at Ein Kerem, where she is doing the research for her doctorate.
Am I the only one who sees the dark humor in all of this? This is the insanity of Occupation. It beggars common sense and human decency and turns all of us into paupers.
H/t to Adam Horowitz. I’m with Adam concerning the issue of the Israeli academic boycott. Pro-Israel academics puff out their chests with indignation about the violation of basic rights and academic freedom that would be involved in such a boycott. But they fail to realize that an Israeli academic system whose admissions process is essentially gamed by the defense ministry when it comes to Palestinian applicants, is one in which such rights and freedoms have already been corrupted.