Palestinian MKs criticise bill requiring universities to fire anti-Zionist lecturers

Palestinian MKs criticise bill requiring universities to fire anti-Zionist lecturers
Palestinian members of Knesset have called the move a crackdown on freedom, saying it applies to those who question or criticise Zionism
2 min read
06 June, 2024
A bill brought to the Israeli Knesset will require universities to fire faculty members without compensation [Getty]

Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset have slammed a new bill which will require universities to fire lecturers who express any form of anti-Zionist sentiment.

Palestinian lawmakers and academics have lashed out at what they called a crackdown on freedom of expression amid Israel's war on Gaza.

The Times of Israel reported that if passed, the bill which was brought to the Knesset on Monday, would require universities to fire the faculty members without any compensation.

The bill also applies to any lecturers who deny Israel's "right to exist" as a "sovereign Jewish nation", incite "terrorism", or express support for a "terrorist organisation" or armed struggle against Israel.

Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of Knesset, denounced the move as a "fascist campaign" and called it an incitement against lecturers and academics who have a different opinion on Israel's war on Gaza.

"This is a cynical exploitation of the students' own funds," he said, praising Israel’s Association of University Heads for coming out against the bill.

The bill’s notes stated that: "The days of the war in which we find ourselves oblige us to [...] balance freedom of expression against the basic principles of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."

"It often seems that this balance is violated by faculty and teaching staff in higher education institutions who express- in words or deeds- support and identification with acts of terrorism," it adds, specifying that higher education must be made free of any statements or actions that "support terrorism in any form" or "deny the existence of the state of Israel".

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The bill was put forward by coalition whip Ofir Katz from the Likud party and was written in cooperation with the National Union for Israeli Students (NUIS), whose chairman also called on lawmakers to support the legislation.

Last month, the Israeli Ministry of Education summoned a Palestinian teacher, Sabreen Masarwa, after she was seen attending a Nakba Day march. She was later suspended and fined.

According to Haaretz, parents at the school accused Masarwa of using inflammatory words against Israel, however, the ministry admitted it did not have any evidence of incitement by Masarwa.