This week, a religious student at Bar Ilan University, after being struck with a bout of insomnia, ventured to the halls of residence’s computer cluster in the early hours of the morning to discover strictly Orthodox men browsing the internet’s more questionable material.
“I was in shock,” she recalled. “I passed them and they just continued surfing pornographic sites as if they were watching the news. These are not people that I know; they are too old to be students, and anyone can enter the university, so they simply took advantage of the situation,” she said.
The university is aware that many Charedim from the nearby predominantly strictly Orthodox town of Bnei Brak take advantage of the room in order to surf the net, as internet access at home is not usually permitted by rabbis. A Bar Ilan spokesperson told Israeli news website ynet: “In coordination with the union, we reached a decision to decrease the amount of hours the offices are open and we were indeed successful in significantly reducing the phenomenon. The university administration is planning on assessing additional steps in completely eliminating the entrance of strangers.” Emblazoned on the front cover of this week’s issue of Felix, the Imperial College London student newspaper, is the story of Zohair Abu Shaban, an electrical-engineering graduate from Gaza University who is, apparently, unable to accept his place at Imperial College for a masters degree owing to being “trapped” within Gaza by an Israeli border patrol.
The piece chronicles Zohair’s failed attempt at crossing both the Erez and Rafah borders of Gaza.
Additionally it claims that “there are an estimated 600 students in Gaza who have been accepted into foreign universities, not taking into account promising students who have been deterred from even applying”.
The article quotes a spokesman from the Israeli Foreign Ministry as saying: “Gaza has become a hostile entity ruled by Hamas, a group that have essentially declared war.”
The Imperial College Jewish Society president Yoni Weiner said: “The Islamic Society wanted to launch a student-union campaign to let Zohair across, but we, and UJS, felt that the best course of action would be to let the university run the campaign”.