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Hebrew U students walk out of Sayed Kashua graduation speech

Hebrew University Jerusalem. Students and family members walked out of the graduation ceremony during the speech of Palestinian author and commentator Sayed Kashua.

Hebrew University Jerusalem. Students and family members walked out of the graduation ceremony during the speech of Palestinian author and commentator Sayed Kashua.

Students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem angrily walked out during a graduation ceremony speech by Palestinian author and commentator Sayed Kashua, claiming he referred to last week's kidnapping of three settlers in an inappropriate way that hurt their feelings.

Students from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and family members walked out of their graduation ceremony last Thursday during the speech of Palestinian author and commentator Sayed Kashua. The students told the Israeli news portal ynet that Kashua referred to last week's kidnapping of three teenage settlers in a manner that hurt their feelings and which was inappropriate for the occasion.

The graduates told Ynet that Sayed, who is renowned for his wit and sense of humour, related that his children want to watch news reports about the kidnapped teens, which bothers him when watching the World Cup games. "Holland gave it to Spain 5-1 and Hamas gave it to Israel 3-0," Sayed is also reported to have said. "My children saw on television how Netanyahu speaks against murderers and terrorists. They asked me who he was talking about, and I replied that he is talking about me and them, my kids".

Several students wrote a letter demanding that Hebrew University apologise for Sayed's appearance at the graduation ceremony.

Professor Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, responded that "Sayed Kashua was invited to speak six months ago. How could I know the kidnapping would occur? I can't argue with the feelings of those who were hurt, but Kashua came to the ceremony and spoke from a place of pain and love. He was very emotional and at the end of his speech he burst out in tears. Concerning the kidnapped youths, Kashua explicitly said it is an inappropriate act. He did not justify it. The man came to speak from a place of love, peace and pain. He has another voice. He is a respected author. True, he is an Arab. But the university is a place to hear opinions. The test for all of us is to listen, even in difficult moments."

Sayed Kashua is an internationally renowned author of several books translated to numerous languages. A Palestinian citizen of Israel born in the city of Tira, Kashua writes satirical columns for the Haaretz newspaper and the Jerusalem weekly Kol Hair.

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