Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, spoke Wednesday afternoon in front of Muslim students at Haifa University and warned them that Benjamin Netanyahu
was intending on completing his plan to gain control of the Temple Mount, which he said the prime minister had tried to do during his first tenure.
Some 150 Jewish students staged a protest in the area, equipped with Israel
flags and drums. "This is not Tehran," they chanted towards Salah.
The Islamic leader, who was invited to speak by the IQRAA students' organization affiliated with his movement, briefed the students on the history of his movement and on the criminal proceedings taken against him and his people several years ago.
He noted that he had rejected the Shin Bet's offers to agree to concessions in Jerusalem. "We love life, our families, our homes and our children, but if they suggest that we give up our principles and holy sites, we would rather die and we will welcome death."
Salah claimed that the government continued constantly to dig tunnels under the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa Mosque, and that Netanyahu was planning to complete during his current term what he did not complete during his first one – "to dig additional tunnels under al-Aqsa and rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mount."
Sheikh with Muslim students (Photo: Shai Vaknin)
The Muslim students responded by chanting, "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). At the same time, Jewish students clashed with the university's security officers. Police forces were also dispatched to the area but were no required to intervene.
The Jewish students were protesting against the event and the fact that the university only allowed Arab students to take part in it. A Haifa University official said that Salah had not been invited by the institution and that there was no legal way to prevent him from coming.
"The university has reservations about Sheikh Raed Salah's remarks, as made in the past, within the walls of other universities as well, but it cannot prevent him from speaking to students. The university hopes that the sheikh will not take advantage of this for incitement but will rather call for peace and coexistence."
University officials noted that they had reservations over the event and that they had managed to prevent Salah from visiting the place for several years, including on the recent Land Day, but that legal advice given to the university recently stated that it could no longer reject students' requests to have the Islamic leader lecture to them.
Addressing the Jewish students' claims, the university officials said that they were banned entry to the event so as not to disrupt public order. "In previous charged events as well, in which (Foreign Minister Avigdor) Lieberman
and (former Defense Minister Shaul) Mofaz
gave lectures, we banned the entry of Arab students," one of the officials said.
The Students' Union said in a statement that it condemned "any racist act which includes hatred and a desire to incite. We hope for coexistence, and such a speech and such a person creates provocations and disrupts the order within the university's walls. We will not sit idly by as such a serious incident takes place in our home."
The Union said its members had only found out about the events on Wednesday because the invitations were written in Arabic. They estimated that had they known about the event earlier, the number of protestors would have been much higher.