Nizar Hassan, a lecturer at Sapir College who refused to teach a reservist who showed up to his class in an IDF uniform, was asked by the college's administration to apologize to the student in order to avoid the termination of employment at the institution, according to a summary of the council hearing on the case on Thursday.
Only one of the council members was in favor of firing Hassan.
In November of last year, Hassan directed
First Lieutenant (res.) Eyal Cohen, an intelligence officer and a cinematography student in his class, to leave the classroom because he showed up to class in uniform.
During the lecture, Hassan reportedly responded to Cohen saying "yes sir" several times, which Cohen saw as mocking and derisive.
Hassan refused to allow Cohen to respond to his remarks in class and said he would only allow him to do so if he showed up to class without a uniform.
The lecturer's attorney, Etti Livni, said that Hassan had acted in good faith. "In class he only wants to see human beings – not soldiers, not Jews and not Arabs – and he did not intend to disparage. The appearance of a uniform sufficiently scared and intimidated him.
"He sees them as a revelation of violence. Hassan reacted to the student's appearance in uniform through fear," Livni added saying the lecturer believed Cohen was carrying a weapon.
However, council members ruled that they do not accept Livni's and thus Hassan's version of events. "Even though Hassan tried to portray his actions as stemming from pure humanistic motives and values, the council believes this act went beyond (an expression of) his deep reservation to the typical symbol," the council said in the ruling.
The council also determined that Hassan's behavior and remarks to Cohen "were totally unacceptable and deserving of the most severe condemnation. The council decided that Hassan owes the student an apology for hurting him and disparaging him even if he didn't intend to."
It was decided to attach an unequivocal and stark warning that the college would fire the lecturer if he continues to behave in such a manner.
Professor Zeev Zachor, President of Sapir College, sent a letter to Hassan saying: "As a condition of your continued employment, you are requested to apologize to the student for hurting and disparaging him. I will ask to see the apology within a week from the day you receive this letter. In your apology, you must refer to your obligation to be respectful to the IDF uniform and the full right of every student to enter your classroom in uniform."
Professor Zachor added that "I won't accept an apology that is not unequivocal. I won't accept an apology that does not refer to respecting the IDF uniform or that has any haggling political nuances…and obviously until the apology is received you are not permitted to lecture at the college."
As for Cohen, he said he was happy the matter is over with. "These days I am filming a documentary and a feature that will combine certain items from this issue. I asked for an apology from Hassan because he hurt me and all IDF soldiers. I received it and I thank the college for the position they took on the matter, "he said.
The Student Union at Sapir refused to accept the council's decision. "There is no proportionality between the council's conclusions and its decision because what is the apology good for if (Hassan) doesn't change his relations with students?
"Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that students have complained about him and there are some things we will do if the college administration won't, despite our appreciation for the college management," Student Union head David Barnan said.