On the morning of October 27th, the Hadash and Balad chapters at Tel-Aviv University held a protest in support of the Lion’s Den terrorist group, recently apprehended in Nablus. This Palestinian militant group has been responsible for the recent shooting attacks in Israel and, after emerging in August of 2022, has become wildly popular among young Palestinians in the West Bank. 

During the protest Hadash and Balad members were seen chanting in support of the Intifada, and called the Lion’s Den members martyrs (Shaheedim). Their chants honored the terrorists and the students declared that they would continue to fight the “occupation”, in their memory. In the past month, the Lions Den has murdered several innocent civilians and killed two young soldiers within the course of one week, in early October. One of these victims was 21 year old First Sergeant Ido Baruch

These students, who are Israelis, fail to understand that defending the Lion’s Den and supporting such violence undermines and delegitimizes the existence of the state of Israel. This kind of activism on a university campus incites violence and supports terrorism.

Hadash, (The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) is a political party, with student run chapters at universities within Israel. In various elections Hadash has run with the Balad party. Both parties advocate for specific reforms. According to the Israel Democracy Institute,  Hadash, champions a two state solution, countries for two peoples exercising democracy and peace. Balad, (The National Democratic Assembly), supports the idea of a “state for all citizens”, and an enhancement of civil rights laws for Israel’s Arab population. Balad works to continually bolster the Arab minority community in Israel. Both platforms use terminology that connotes democracy and civil liberty and yet their party members and their constituents are praising terrorists.  

This protest was inspired by the remarks of Hadash-Ta’al member of Knesset, Aida Touma-Silman.  After the funeral of five killed high-ranking Lions Den members during an IDF raid,  Touma-Silman wrote on her Facebook, two days before the protest, “Nablus bids farewell to our martyrs today.” Touma-Silman is actively glorifying terrorism by making such remarks. These students should be ashamed of their public representatives who support terrorism and bloodshed of other Israelis, their fellow citizens. Instead of agreeing with Aida Touma-Silman, these students should have condemned her hateful rhetoric

Touma-Silman’s statement of alleged martyrdom highlights a common theme that constantly appears in times of terrorism in Israel. Martyrdom is often portrayed as a cultural justification for terrorism. The Palestinian Authority even has a martyrs fund, which pays monthly cash stipends to family members of Shaheedim whose relatives are injured or imprisoned for committing terrorist attacks against Israelis.

Hadash members during the protest claimed that cries of intifada and victory left the city of Nablus and onto them. The 2nd intifada, which began in 2000, was a multi-year wave of Palestinian terror attacks that targeted Jewish civilians in buses, restaurants, and dance clubs. These students were chanting in favor of radical violence by using that phrase. The students also chanted that they will continue the journey of the Shaheed. Has this idea of violent sacrifice and extreme martyrdom escalated to the student body at TAU? Since the start of the Lion’s Den’s popularity, administrators at Tel Aviv University have done little to address student demonstrations in support of its members.

When will President Porat issue a statement or response to the heinous actions of TAU students in support of terrorism?And now the Hadash chapter at TAU is hosting a performance of BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign) supporter, and anti-Israel rapper Tamer Nafar on Tuesday, November 29th. Nafar has in the past been vocal about his support of BDS, and this past summer, his scheduled performance in the city of Acre was canceled due to public protest. Students cannot be expected to feel comfortable to come to a campus and sit with classmates that support terrorists. Free Speech is a right of any individual at a university, but when free speech incites bigotry and violence, that kind of rhetoric cannot be tolerated. 

Miriam Blum is a 2022-2023 CAMERA on Campus Israel Fellow at Tel-Aviv University.

A slightly modified version of this article also appeared in the Algemeiner.

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