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Israel academics demand University drops complaint against student who quoted Mahmoud Darwish

August 1, 2022 at 2:56 pm

Late Palestinian poet and journalist Mahmoud Darwish gestures during his show in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, 15 July 2007 [GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]

A group of 120 faculty members at Ben-Gurion University sent a letter to the school’s Chief Administrator demanding the withdrawal of its disciplinary complaint against a Palestinian student using the term ‘martyr’ at a memorial event to mark Nakba Day.

The student, Watan Madi, used the term while quoting Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, during a speech she gave at a student-led Nakba Day ceremony on campus.

The University claimed that it “takes very seriously” the flying of Palestinian flags at the event and the term ‘martyr’ are to be interpreted as support for terrorism.

In their letter to the University’s Chief Administrator, Mira Golomb, the faculty members said that using “the flag-waving as evidence of support for terror is absurd,” following the University’s permission to fly them.

“As the faculty members from the relevant fields can attest, the meaning of the word in Arabic is ‘martyrs’ or ‘fallen’, and not terrorists or suicide bombers. Moreover, the text that Watan Madi read relates specifically to the fallen of the Nakba,” it added.

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“We hope that the University aspires to be an academic home for all students, faculty and employees. Therefore, the University should relate to their cultures, identities and native languages in light of their own viewpoints – and not through the perspective of organisations that undermine the legitimacy of varied viewpoints.”

According to Haaretz, Golomb has not yet responded to the letter and Madi is still required to appear before a disciplinary panel of three judges from the University today.

For Madi, this is just part of the struggle of being a Palestinian woman in Israel, whether on or off campus.

She told Mondoweiss, “This is the same feeling as living in Israel as a Palestinian.”

“To be Arab, Palestinian, and a woman isn’t the best combination in Israel, but this is our right to study in our homeland.”