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Arab Students, Objecting to Israelis, Break Up Wayne University Affair

Refusal of the 60-member Arab Student Association at Wayne State University here to take part in a “Middle Eastern Night,” because Israeli students at the university wanted to participate, forced cancellation of the program which had been billed as “an evening of cultural interchange.”

The program, under sponsorship of the International Studart Society at the University, would have been the first of its kind. It was canceled when students from Iran and Afghanistan said it would fail without Arab student support.

Avram Levy, an Israeli student who had been scheduled to serve as chairman for the program, said he would have been willing to go through the event “with or without the Arabs.” The only country which would have been present, however, would have been Israel, making such an event impossible, he agreed.

Samir Zakhem, Lebanese president of the Arab Student Association, said the group does not recognize Israel and would therefore not participate in a program on “political divisions in the Middle East.” Dr. Franklin Wallin of the history department, faculty advisor to the Arab students, said he felt they should not have refused to participate but added that “it is a legal issue which goes pretty deep.”

In a letter to the campus newspaper, the Israeli student said that if the Arab objection was to having an Israeli chairman, “I will resign in favor of someone of their choosing.” The Arab students, however, insisted that it was Israel’s participation, and not the chairman, which was unacceptable.

The Arab students held a meeting at which it was agreed that “a negative approach” to the proposed program was unwise and the suggestion was made that an Arab “counter” activity be organized for the same evening. This idea was dropped when the Arab students were informed that the university would refuse campus facilities for such a program.

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