Competing accounts of Amira Hass’s departure from Birzeit

According to this report, the journalist Amira Hass was kicked out of a conference at Birzeit University, near Ramallah, because she is a Jewish Israeli.  (Had she been a Palestinian citizen of Israel, it is claimed, this would not have happened.)

“When I registered at the entrance of the conference I wrote next to my name the institution I belong to, Haaretz. For the past two decades, the lecturer said, there has been a law at Birzeit stipulating that Israelis (Jewish Israelis, that is) are not allowed on the university grounds. The students manning the conference registration desk saw that I had written ‘Haaretz,’ realized I was an Israeli, and ran to tell the university authorities. The security department in turn went to the conference organizers, the lecturer said. She and her colleagues were afraid, she told me, that students would break into the conference hall in protest over my presence.”

Although Hass has argued that stone throwing is the  “birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule”, the enormity of being expelled from the conference has put her views on Palestinians under some pressure.

Hass’ article included a hint of some enlightenment. When realizing she had to leave, “I was at that moment reminded of the image that Israelis commonly have of Palestinians: irrational hotheads,” she wrote.

But it seems that the ejection was not in line with Birzeit’s official policy:

Meanwhile, the university published a statement Saturday saying: “The administration has nothing against the presence of the journalist Hass. The university as a national institution differentiates between friends and enemies of the Palestinian people… and works with every person or institution that is against the occupation.”

At the very least it seems that the problem was the fact that Hass was representing an Israeli institution, not her nationality or ethnicity per se, although Hass still identifies a problem here.

The claim that the law applies to me because I am representing an Israeli institution is a shaky one: Palestinian citizens of Israel who teach at Israeli universities are not subject to the same policy. If I had known about the existence of such a law, I wouldn’t have come to the conference. I have other places to invest my subversive energies.

If Hass is correct in still asserting she has been subjected to double standards – will anyone be calling for a boycott of Birzeit? To end on a less snarky note, her expulsion was actively opposed by many (pro)Palestinian voices.

Hat Tip: Harvela