TEL AVIV (Jul. 29)
The chairman of the student union at Bar-Ilan University, a religiously oriented school, has called for the new minister of education, Shulamit Aloni, to be banned from campus.
Aloni was invited to address an Israel Student Union conference at the university next month. She is head of the left-wing Meretz bloc and has had many run-ins with the Israeli religious establishment.
But the statement by Uri Flor, the student leader, was denounced by other students on the Bar-Ilan campus, and the National Students Association said Flor should be forced to resign.
Upon learning of the invitation extended to Aloni, Flor had declared that “her foot should not be allowed to touch the floor of the campus.”
Flor said Aloni’s support for the separation of religion and state and her liberal, humanistic approach to Judaism represented only the “extreme fringe of world Jewish thinking, and not the mainstream majority.”
He said Tuesday that if Aloni did not change her opinions, she would not be allowed on campus, even if this meant the student conference would moved to another university.
His statements provoked anger from both religious and secular students in on-campus discussions.
Bar-Ilan University, based in the Ramat Gan suburb of Tel Aviv, is a religiously oriented school that has close ties with the National Religious Party.
The NRP held the education portfolio in the Cabinet until the party went into opposition against the current Labor-led coalition. The majority of the student body is Orthodox.
Aloni’s office said Wednesday that she had so far not received an invitation to attend the Student Union conference at either Bar-Ilan or any other Israeli university.
Aloni, particularly since being named to head the education ministry, has encountered fierce opposition from Orthodox leaders because she is female and because of her speeches against the Orthodox Jewish establishment in Israel.
She has also provoked the wrath of right-wing elements, who have called her a lover of Arabs and the Palestine Liberation Organization.