Some 60% of the students who attend the college are Arabs. The final decision on the protocol change will be made next week. Meanwhile, the Arab students are determined to fight the decision which they say will hurt Safed's already fragile coexistence.
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"This is a very serious matter which affects the majority of the students in the college," said Alla Abu Bakher, a student at the college. "We have no intention of hurting anyone, but if the State of Israel has chosen to exempt us of military service by law, then the Safed Student Union cannot create its own law."
According to the amendment, only students who served for at least two years in the IDF or did national service or served in some form of civil capacity recognized by the State will be able to apply for the position of union chairman.
Arab Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United List Ta'al) has asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to withdraw the clause. "This is a racist and discriminatory amendment which goes against the law," Tibi claimed. "Most of the students at the college are in fact Arabs which makes the matter even more outrageous."
The Safed Student Union said in response: "The revised protocol was approved by the majority of the union's members which include both Arabs and Jews. The clause is not directed against any particular sector. As students, we expect that the person elected to represent us is an example of the society in which he lives. The Israeli society sees Arabs and Jews living side by side and those who contribute to the community must not be discriminated against."
The union said that in light of comments they have received, the matter will be reexamined at the next Student Union meeting.
The Zefat Academic College said in response," The student union is an independent body that works separately from the college. The college has no influence over decisions made by the union. The college is reviewing the meaning of the protocol and will form a position early next week."
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