The expulsion of an Israeli journalist from an academic conference at a Palestinian university has set off a debate over academic freedom in Palestinian higher education, the Associated Press reported. The journalist in question -- Amira Hass -- wrote of being told by professors at Birzeit University that there were university rules barring Israelis like her from being there. Further, Hass wrote that one person told her she should leave for her own safety, and she then did.
The comments from Hass are notable as her journalism regularly documents mistreatment by Israel of Palestinians, and she writes for Haaretz, a leading Israeli newspaper that is regularly criticized by hard-liners for its criticism of the Israeli government. Many in Israel are writing that if someone like Hass is kicked out of an event at Birzeit, then Palestinian universities are judging people by their nationality, not their views. Birzeit issued a statement that it "regrets the lamentable incident involving the apparent exclusion of Hass." The statement explained: "The university community takes pride in observing the academic boycott of Israel. However, this boycott applies to institutions, not individuals, let alone individuals who have distinguished themselves by being on the side of justice and humanity, as has journalist Hass."
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