An Egyptian activist lecturing at Tel Aviv University was heckled by a group of Arab-Israeli students Tuesday evening, who accused him of being a “traitor” and slamming what they described as his pursuit of “normalization with Israel.”
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, one of Egypt's leading human rights and democracy activists and researchers, was lecturing on how to preserve Israeli-Egyptian relations when a group of students suddenly stood up and interrupted him, hurling insults at him as they left the lecture theater.
“Bastard! This kind of normalization in treachery. What you are doing in shameful,” they called out. “This is called normalization and you are a traitor, traitor, traitor! Long live the Palestinian people and long live the people of Egypt.”
Continuing with their barrage of insults, repeatedly screaming “Shame on you, you bastard,” the enraged group told Ibrahim “You gave up on your nationalism, you traitor. You’re working for normalization and are selling out the Egyptian people and the entire Arab world. It’s a disgrace. The people of Egypt renounces you and people like you.”
Speaking to Ynet after the event, one of the students explained why the impassioned rhetoric had reached such heights.
“This stinking researcher came to speak about normalization with Israel. He thinks he is meeting with children. We weren’t prepared to hear him because he describes things in lying manner,” the student explained.
“It is obvious that he received instructions on what to say. He deserves more and if I had the chance I would spit in his face.”
The student added that no lecture, regardless of his origin, could convince his fellow protesters to alter their stance on the conflict.
“The main thing is that we made screams heard and let him and other people like him know that we are proud Palestinians. No one will influence our position,” he said, before listing the his proclaimed grievances against Israel.
“It’s important for him to know that the Israeli government is a occupying government that is attempting to legislate racist laws designed to humiliate the Arab Palestinian population,” he said.
Another student was equally vociferous in his objections to the lecture. “We didn’t hear his lecture. We only entered at the beginning and the moment he started talking we conveyed the appropriate message,” he said.
“An Arab man like him, who gives lectures in Tel Aviv University on things he spoke about, is working for normalization and offending the Palestinian people. How do you give legitimacy to injustice, discrimination, occupation and the denial of our identity?” he asked rhetorically.
The university responded to the incident, promising to look into it further. “We take seriously the disruption of a lecture during an academic event. The university will look into the matter.”
It is not the first time the university has seen a walkout staged by angry Arab students. Two years ago, a group stood up and left in protest a lecture delivered at Haifa University by Dr. Omer Salem, another Egyptian researcher who holds a number of degrees from international universities, including Yale University. Salem too was accused of “cooperating with Zionists.”