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Friday, November 06, 2015

Your tax Shekels at work: Hebrew University paying NIS 4,000 per student for Jews and 'Palestinians' to meet in 'warming' sessions

A couple of days ago, I was sent a link to this Facebook page, which invites Jewish and Arab students at Hebrew University to meet socially at the Athens Bar, underneath the Frank Sinatra cafeteria (the site of a 'Palestinian' terror attack in ). The meeting is to take place on November 11 (next Wednesday) and is described as the first in a series of meetings of a group called "As One" which was founded at Tel Aviv University two years ago (the group's full Facebook page is here).

The group was founded to 'break down barriers' between Jews and Arabs, and is described as a forum for Jews and Arabs to meet and discuss their world views. The goal is to create a 'pluralistic, equal and inclusive' student body.

The first meeting will include a 'warming' session in which the group will break off into pairs so that a Jew and an Arab can get to know each other better. The group describes itself as non-political, and is sponsored in cooperation with the Student Union.

But there's more to this than meetings. The notice I pasted above, in Hebrew and Arabic, informs the students that those who attend these 'warming' sessions will each receive a NIS 4,000 (a bit more than $1,000) grant in exchange for attending 84 academic hours' worth of sessions (one three-hour weekly meeting on 28 Tuesdays during the course of the year. The group is limited to 14 students - seven Jews and seven Arabs - and is moderated by a Jewish woman and an Arab woman.

Hebrew University is a public institution, which means that this program is being paid for by the Israeli government, and by you, the Israeli taxpayer (and overseas donor). 

For those of you who wonder why this kind of program is problematic, please consider this article published in the New York Daily News by Dr. Daniel Gordis three weeks ago:
We have a young language instructor at Shalem College in Jerusalem, where I work. She's a religious Muslim who wears a hijab, lives in one of the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and is a graduate student at Hebrew University. She's fun and warm, and a great teacher — the students like her a lot.
Late last spring, when things here were quiet, some of the students mentioned to the department chair that as much as they'd spoken with her over the past couple of years, they'd never discussed politics. They were curious what someone like her thought about the conflict in this region, especially now that she was teaching at an unabashedly Zionist college, had come to know so many Jewish students and had developed such warm relationships with them. How does someone like her see things here? How did she think we would one day be able to settle this conflict?
"So ask her," the department chair said. "As long as you speak to her in Arabic (she's on staff to help our students master the language), you can talk about anything you want."
They did. They told her that since they'd never discussed the "situation" (as we metaphorically call it here in Israel), they were curious how she thought we might someday resolve it.
"It's our land," she responded rather matter-of-factly. Stunned, they weren't sure that they'd heard her correctly. So they waited. But that was all she had to say. "It's our land. You're just here for now."
What upset those students more than anything was not that a Palestinian might believe that the Jews are simply the latest wave of Crusaders in this region, and that we, like the Crusaders of old, will one day be forced out. We all know that there are many Palestinians who believe that.
What upset them was that she — an educated woman, getting a graduate degree (which would never happen in a Muslim country) at a world class university (only Israel has those — none of Israel's neighbors has a single highly rated university) and working at a college filled with Jews who admire her, like her and treat her as they would any other colleague — still believes that when it's all over, the situation will get resolved by our being tossed out of here once again.
Even she , who lives a life filled with opportunities that she would never have in an Arab country, still thinks at the end of the day the Jews are nothing but colonialists. And colonialists, she believes, don't last here. The British got rid of the Ottomans, the Jews got rid of the British — and one day, she believes, the Arabs will get rid of the Jews.
I have three children who have gone or are going through the Israeli university system. I would not be happy about them having 'warming' sessions with Arab students - certainly not in pairs. Yet my government is paying students to do just that.

What could go wrong?

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