Salah speaks at Haifa University
Photo: Shay Vaknin
Ben-Ze'ev: No way to prevent speech
Orlev: Lecture should not have occurred
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Haifa University President Aaron Ben-Ze'ev said Wednesday he would recommend the university refrain from inviting back Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, who gave a controversial lecture there last week.
Salah, who spoke before a largely Muslim crowd, said in his speech that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was intending to complete his plan to gain control of the Temple Mount, which he said he had tried to do during his first tenure.
"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," he told the crowd.
Professor Ben-Ze'ev said the university had already begun to probe the incident. "Sheikh Raed Salah is a persona non-grata in Haifa University," he said.
"He was invited to the campus by a student cell called IQRAA. The university, according to the letter of the law, had no way to prevent his appearance as was previously acceptable at other universities."
Salah's arrival at the university was accompanied by stormy protests held by students and faculty who objected to his appearance.
Ben-Ze'ev explained that the protestors had been prevented from entering the lecture hall due to fears that a violent conflict would ensue, and not because they were Jewish, as many had claimed.
"There were many Jews in the hall, and no one prevented Jews from entering because of their religion. The entrance of protestors was indeed prevented, because of the fear that their entry would lead to bloodshed," he said.
The Knesset's Education Committee also discussed the contentious lecture, and Committee Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev said it should never have been permitted.
"We can't give those who deny Israel's existence and have been convicted of severe crimes against the state an academic stage," he said.
Orlev added that Salah and his student hosts had been invited to participate in the debate at the Knesset, but had neglected to appear.