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PACBI-Colleagues back lecturer who threw soldier out of classroom

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Haaretz | December 4, 2007

Colleagues back lecturer who threw soldier out of classroom

Filmmaker Nizar Hassan, who was suspended recently from lecturing at Sapir College near Sderot, pending a disciplinary hearing, after he ordered a student to leave the classroom for wearing an Israeli army uniform and carrying a weapon, received a show of support Monday from his colleagues and censure from Knesset members.

The student was serving as an Israel Defense Forces reservist at the time.

Nearly 40 Jewish and Arab lecturers at Sapir signed a letter to the college's president and disciplinary committee stating that Hassan "is a talented and courageous artist whose only sin was his attempt to maintain universal civic values, and whose action pointed to the serious phenomenon of the great involvement of the army in campus life."

Hassan's disciplinary hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The Knesset Education Committee discussed his case Monday, at the behest of MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) and others, and decided to condemn Hassan "harshly."

"There is a national, civic and moral duty to ensure the honor of army reservists," a committee resolution stated. The committee also requested to be briefed on the results of the disciplinary hearing.

Last month, Eyal Cohen, an intelligence officer in the reserves, came to a film class taught by Hassan while wearing his army uniform. Hassan reportedly told him to leave immediately, saying, "I do not teach soldiers, policemen and officers in uniform."

Cohen did not leave, and Hassan continued to make negative comments about the Israel Defense Forces during the class.

The lecturers' letter defended Hassan, stating: "For an Arab lecturer who does not identify with the Israeli army and who does not share in the naturalness with which many of us accept those who carry arms among us, it is reasonable that he will request that the necessary boundaries between the army and academia be adhered to and to remind us all of how crucial these are."

The letter notes that there were no disciplinary hearings in previous cases when Jewish lecturers removed armed soldiers from lecture halls.

Sapir College has no written disciplinary regulations, and a senior college official told Haaretz that the disciplinary committee will follow "a clear statement by the college president and the academic ethos, according to which you do not bring politics into the classroom, or insult a student."

Hassan's temporary employment contract warns him against mixing ideology and politics in his lessons. This is the only contract at Sapir (or any other institute of higher learning, as far as is known) in which such a clause has been included.

Posted on 05-12-2007

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