Following the massacre of October 7, which profoundly shocked all parts of Israeli society, the academic year is now due to open and many students will come back to classrooms and campuses.

Many Jewish students will come to studies after being involved in the war and in reserve duty; many of them have experienced trauma and loss. Other young people will begin their studies after losing loved ones and suffering trauma as civilians.

Arab students will also be traumatized by the images of the war, compounded by an experience of persecution, silencing, and difficulties due to their identity.

Over the past decade, enormous resources have been invested to encourage the integration of young Arabs in academia. The goal of this process is to address widespread poverty in Arab society, improve the integration of Arab citizens in all sections of society, and encourage growth in the Israeli economy as a whole.

This effort has largely been successful and has led to an impressive rise in the rate of integration of Arab citizens in academia as students, researchers, and faculty members.

To assist this process of integration, practices, procedures, and norms have been developed to shape institutions of higher education as welcoming and inclusive spaces for Arab citizens and others.

At this point, these achievements face tangible threats, including the potential for conflict between Arabs and Jews; the reduction (or abolition) of practices and norms of inclusion; and even the exclusion of Arabs from academia in Israel.

Accordingly, the following are the Abraham Initiatives’ recommendations:

  • Universities should define clear rules of expected conduct for faculty members and students. These rules should be published clearly and, in all languages, to ensure awareness among students. If universities wish to take any sanctions against individuals violating the rules, they must define orderly, transparent, and egalitarian mechanisms to this end. It is recommended that universities call for restraint and for respectful discourse.
  • The security staff on campuses are the main body responsible for maintaining order. Training and emphasizing procedures should be used to ensure an egalitarian and respectful attitude toward all students. Security staff must be thoroughly familiar with the limits of their powers and with student rights.[1]
  • A sense of belonging to the universities can provide a basis for affinity (common denominator) between the groups. Accordingly, it is recommended that this collective sense be encouraged. It is important to emphasize these messages across campuses in a prominent manner.[2]

[1] From the position paper Security Personnel in Diverse Academic Settings.

[2] For further details: Utilizing the Full Potential of the Jewish-Arab Encounter in Academia.

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Silence is Golden