Freedom of Speech: Israel Isn’t Iran or is it?
It’s in the news, it’s on twitter and even CNN is using Youtube to get their information about the latest and breaking news in Iran as their citizens battle for freedom of speech and right to fair elections continues. But here in Israel news of freedom of speech being denied doesn’t seem to make the headlines around the world, on social media or even in Israel’s own media.
Last week Islamic Movement Northern Branch Leader Sheikh Raed Salah was finally granted permission to speak at Haifa University. Sheikh Salah is an Arab-Israeli and the former mayor of Umm el-Fahm. He was imprisoned for two years in 2003 for raising millions for Hamas and in 2007 he organized riots against an archeological dig and a new pedestrian bridge near the Temple Mount.
Despite his track record Haifa University allowed Sheikh Salah to speak on campus. This sounds like freedom of speech. Point one goes to Israel. But who was allowed to attend the speech, not Jews. In a Jewish State at a Government Educational Institution, Jews were forbidden and denied access to participate in the discussion. Point one removed from Israel and add a negative thousand.
Sheikh Salah told Arab students to sacrifice themselves as shahids in the war against Israel. He claimed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to dig tunnels under the al-Aksa mosque and replace it with a Jewish Temple and added that “We will not compromise on our principles or holy sites. We prefer to die as shahids and will welcome death joyfully.” This prompted chants of “Allahu Akbar (God is Great).
Meanwhile the lecture — if you would like to call it that— went on with cheers as Sheikh Salah’s incited hate, Jewish students gathered outside reciting “this isn’t Teheran.” They were not let in and instead clashed with Israeli police. Apparently freedom of speech is a one-way road.
Let me ask you this: If there had been an Israeli right-wing extremist that wanted to speak on campus would Israel allow him to do so? Would Israel ban Arabs from going? And if so, would that make the news?