Palestinian students detained, suspended from Hebrew University for singing traditional folk songs

Middle East Monitor  /  March 31, 2022

Two Palestinian students were arrested at Hebrew University of Jerusalem by off-duty Israel officers for singing traditional folk songs.

The students, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem aged 19 and 20, were released after six hours of interrogation on “suspicion of conduct that could disturb the peace”, reported Haartez.

Moreover, the students, who were listening and singing along to “Ala Dalouna,” a folk song about the olive harvest and the spring foods of Palestinian farmers, were suspended from campus for six days.

In a statement released yesterday, the Israeli non-profit organization, Ir Amim, said, “Yesterday, at the Hebrew University, two Palestinian students sat on campus and listened to music on the speaker. Suddenly a policeman came to them – who is not on duty, but a student at the University – and transferred them to investigation. The students were released, but received an instruction not to come to the campus in the next few days.”

“Authorities love to flaunt that, over time, the number of Palestinian Jerusalem students studying at the Hebrew University is growing, but the University’s generous response tells a different story,” the organization added.

According to Haaretz, the Israeli soldiers used their mobile phones to photograph the students before driving them to the police and confiscating their phones. The University security guards were aware of the situation, but refused to intervene.

The students were interrogated about their political views, what they think of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and whether they pray and fast during the month of Ramadan.

According to a statement from the Israeli police, the officers who were studying at the University “noticed two students singing a song in Arabic that includes words of support for perpetrating acts of terror”.

“The University should have stood behind its students and not allowed the police to enter the campus, as is customary all over the world,” says Professor Daphna Golan of the University’s Law School.

“Moreover, it should make it clear to policemen who study at the University that they can’t use their position in order to arrest students. Couldn’t they call security? Why was it necessary to arrest them on campus? We have to stop assuming that because we don’t understand the words, it’s a song of incitement.”

Ir Amin also called on the University to stand behind the Palestinian students and announce unanimously that it does not receive unjustified arrests in the area.