28 February 2008


Haifa University to Adalah: The Law Imposes Military Service Requirement for Training Course for Commercial Fleet Officers; We are Not Responsible for It

On 28 January 2008, the University of Haifa and the Marine Education and Training Authority responded to a letter sent by Adalah demanding the cancellation of the military service criterion as an entry condition for its training course for officers for the Israeli Commercial Fleet as it discriminates against Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. The course is scheduled to begin in the 2008-2009 academic year. Graduates of the course receive a bachelor’s degree and are trained to work in the Israeli Commercial Fleet.

Haifa University claimed in its response that the Israeli Shipping Law (1973) stipulates the imposition of this condition, that it is not responsible for the setting this restriction, and that the university’s role is limited to providing academic services. In its response, the Marine Education and Training Authority claimed that neither it nor the university has any part in the setting of this condition, and that the Minister of Transport is authorized to examine each case individually and can exempt those who apply to the course from this condition.

Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher sent the letter to the Dean of Haifa University, the Dean of Students and the Director of the Marine Education and Training Authority on 22 January 2008. In the letter, Adalah argued that the course is designed to train candidates for a civilian profession: “Imposing this criterion as a condition for acceptance to a training course immediately eliminates Arab candidates … the result of introducing this condition is the exclusion of Arab candidates who are suitable for the course, and subsequently the restriction of their entry into the profession of seamanship, solely because they are Arabs.”

Adalah referenced a decision delivered in 2006 by the Haifa District Court on a petition filed by Adalah regarding the use of the criterion of military service in the allocation of student dorms at the University of Haifa. In its decision, the court accepted Adalah’s argument that this criterion must be cancelled and that it discriminates against Arab students.

The introduction of the military service criterion “constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of national belonging, and is in breach of the constitutional rights of Arab candidates who wish to register for the course,” argued Adalah in the letter. The use of the military service condition in this case contradicts the Students’ Rights Law (2007), and violates Arab students’ constitutional right to freedom of occupation, as stipulated in the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation.

Adalah's letter (Hebrew)

The response of Haifa University (Hebrew)

The response of the Marine Education and Training Authority (Hebrew)

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