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Letter from the president of Tel Aviv University: Six days to war - a snapshot

All the universities in Israel are dealing this week with students who expressed support for Hamas on social networks and announced that they will act against such students. The president of Tel Aviv University joins the call for universities around the world to punish students and faculty members who expressed support for Hamas

All the universities in Israel are dealing this week with students who expressed support for Hamas on social networks. The president of Tel Aviv University also joins the call for universities around the world to punish students and faculty members who expressed support for Hamas.

Below is the text of the letter from Prof. Ariel Porat, president of Tel Aviv University:

Friends and faculty members, students,

I would like to open my speech by expressing an unbearably heavy sorrow, for the death of over a thousand people, women and children, who were murdered and killed in the horrific crime committed against the Jewish people in their country. I am pained from the bottom of my heart by the death of our students, and the relatives of our faculty members, who were murdered and killed: Dan Ariel (son of Prof. Meir Ariel, engineering), Omri Belkin (law), Yuval Ben Ya'akov (son of Dr. Haim Ben Ya'akov, Foreign Relations Division), Amnon Bezalel (father of Liat Bezalel, Computer Science), Bruna Valano (Communication, Sociology and Anthropology), Roi Negri (Computer Science and Management) and Maya Poder (Cinema). Unfortunately, it is possible that more fallen people will be added to this list, whose victims we have not yet heard about.

May the memory of the fallen be blessed.

Almost a week has passed since the terrible massacre, and the enormous mental burden is only increasing. We bury our dead; We are exposed to more and more evidence of atrocities; Shocked by the fact that even newborn babies were not saved from the cliff of killing; and worry endlessly about the fate of our captives. Indeed, such national and personal torture has never been experienced in the State of Israel, and unfortunately a gentle end point is not in sight.

The university is engaged in aid efforts. We established an emergency fund for financial aid and greatly increased the array of psychological services offered to the university community. The faculties and schools work to establish a personal relationship with our students who live in the south of the country or serve in the security forces. We host in the student dormitories the families of our students from the south who were forced to leave their homes.

In cooperation with the student union, the university is working to recruit female and male faculty members, male and female students, to help volunteer in various ways. The student union, to our great pride, has been active for several days in collecting clothing, food, medical equipment, and other essential items that will help the residents of the south who have become refugees in their country. In the coming days we will try to see if companies and faculty members can help in their area of ​​expertise, for example, in social work, in the various fields of medicine, psychology and law. In fact, volunteer activity has already begun in the schools of dentistry and social work. We check with friends and faculty members and with our students, which of them is interested in hosting residents from the south in their home.

In the midst of the suffering we experience as individuals and as a nation, there are those who dance for blood. In various parts of the world, including on the campuses of respected universities, BDS activity is increasing, which seeks to justify the atrocities perpetrated on us by the Hamas murders. It is difficult to read or view the posts on the various social networks; It is difficult to argue that the heads of certain academic institutions are not doing enough to prevent the abuse of freedom of expression. As we know, freedom of expression is not absolute freedom, it retreats in the face of values ​​of the sanctity of life and personal security, and does not protect expressions of hatred and incitement to acts of murder and violence. I would expect my colleagues, heads of academic institutions in the United States mainly, to behave with students and faculty members who justify the massacre, as they would with those who would justify the terrorist attack of September 11. I would expect them to condemn clearly and decisively and without any reservation the terrible massacre that was carried out here. Some did, but some avoided it.

Against this background, among other things, the university also engages in informational activities. Some of our international students have already mobilized for the cause and are doing holy work. These days, with the help of the student union, we are recruiting male and female student volunteers who will operate on social networks and initiate the terrible lies that are spread on them, and which may also affect an innocent audience who may not understand what Amalek is doing to us.

And finally, expressions of hatred and incitement among us. Unfortunately, there are some of our students who express sympathy and support for the atrocities of Hamas. Their number is extremely small, but this does not reduce the severity of the phenomenon. We will take a hard hand against them, and in cases where we think that a criminal offense has also been committed, we will report it to the police. The treatment will be quick, given the sensitivity of the situation, but we will not violate the rights of any male or female student to a fair investigation of the facts of the case. Precisely in difficult times - and no more difficult than the one we are in now - a society is tested. Democracy and human rights are not suspended in times of war. On the contrary, their importance has even increased.

At the same time, we encounter a phenomenon of serious incitement by extremist elements against students on campus whose only sin is being Arabs. The Hamas killers did not distinguish between Jews and Arabs, and in their heinous terrorist attack, many Israeli Arabs were injured and killed. This phenomenon of incitement against Arabs is limited, but we will not move it to the agenda. Instigators of any kind will not be cleaned. As mentioned, a company is tested in difficult times. Tel Aviv University will be an example in this matter as well.

I wish you better days.

your,

Ariel Porat

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