Academic reinforcement – Dozens of professors from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Wednesday joined some 800 students in a protest march from the university to the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The crowd protested against the entrance of Jewish settlers into the neighborhood, and the eviction of Arab families from their homes.
During the rally, students and professors called out slogans such as "We won’t sit in class while rights are being trampled" and "We won't learn civil rights with racism in Sheikh Jarrah." The protestors waived signs that read "No sanctity in an occupied city" and "Charity begins at home."
Professors join student in protest march (Photo: Guy Asayag)
Dr. David Sarfati, who lectures on genetics, told Ynet that he came to support the struggle of the Arab residents: "I don't agree with evicting families from their homes. They say these houses belong to Jews, and even if it's true – it's still doesn't make it just.
"Sometimes I pass in the area and see an Arab family's tent adjacent to their previous home, and think to myself: 'Do people have no heart?' People lost their ability to view Arabs as humans," he said.
In the name of neighborliness (Photo: Guy Asayag)
Ruth Butler, a professor in the department of education, said she has been active in the struggle for quite some time. "The attempt to expel these families from their homes is wrong on the human and moral level. It's clear that this is also done as a political move, in an attempt to sabotage any opportunity to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians – as it includes the division of Jerusalem," she said.
Close connection to academiaProfessor Tamar Rapoport noted that at least 10 education professors attended the protest. "The announcement about the protest was passed along through the social networks and emails. At the end of the day, teachers are also human, and in this country it's impossible not to take a political stance."
Rapoport clarified that the professors were not there on behalf of the university, but on behalf of themselves. "However," she added, "I believe there is a close connection between the struggle in Sheikh Jarrah and the academia."
Dr. Yuval Harari, Who teaches history at the university, came "in the name of neighborliness," he said. According to Harari, "It's the minimum one can do when the neighbor's house is on fire. As far as the university is concerned, to keep ignoring the situation is like cutting off the branch on which it sits.
"If the neighborhoods around start burning, the future of the university will also be in jeopardy – the students won't want to come here, it will harm the atmosphere on campus, and reflect a dimension of hypocrisy. The ivory tower must remain standing, but if it is too disconnected, its ability to function will be reduced," he said.
Anthropology Professor Yoram Bilu said that throughout his years in the academy, he has never witnessed such a wide scale response and cooperation between versatile groups of lecturers and students. "I came because I felt obliged as a neighbor, and I believe we all share the destiny of this city, which is conjoined."