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Terrorist Prisoners in Israel Appeal to High Court After Being Denied Free College Education

Tiffany Gabbay

When members of the anti-Israel community speak of the “human rights abuses” allegedly being carried out by “Zionist oppressors,” they apparently mean the lack of publicly funded university education afforded to convicted terrorists. For instance, last month a lawsuit was brought to bear by three convicted terrorists who claimed they were being discriminated against by the Israeli High Court’s ruling that violent criminals, including jihadists, are not eligible for subsidized university education. The three inmates asked the High Court to reconsider its ruling Wednesday after prison authorities refused to enroll them in an Open University program and pay their tuition in full.

In Israel, a variety of convicts, depending on the severity of the crimes they committed, are able to enroll in Open University’s distance-learning programs and degree schemes at no cost. The privilege does not extend, however, to those convicted of violent crime or acts of terrorism.

“The Court has ruled in the past and continues to rule that the differences in treatment of criminal and terrorist prisoners is not due to discrimination,” stated three judges presiding over the case.

“We believe the same applies to education.”

The court also has issues to contend with in terms of what to do about a number of convicted terrorists who were already engaged in academic studies prior to the court’s ruling.

The terrorists seeking appeal claim that they should not be treated differently fron non-violent criminals (therein lies the lynchpin of their discrimination claim) and that the new ruling will only worsen the conditions of high-security prisoners.

“Leaving the ruling intact could significantly erode the basic principle of the laws relating to the issue of prisoners, which states that human rights do not end at the gates of the prison,” the terrorists’ lawyers wrote in the appeal. “Previous decisions of the High Court determined that the violation of the rights of a prisoner is permissible only if it is necessary for maintaining public order and security in prison.”

According to Arutz Sheva, in 2010 270 inmates were enrolled in the Open University, 60 of which were classified as high-security prisoners.

Israel’s regard for social justice, even for its hardened, convicted criminals, is a testament to the humanity and dignity that is hallmark of the Jewish State. The issue, of course, is that despite their humane treatment of even those bent on their destruction, much of the world will not give Israelis any credit for such compassion. Rather, much of the world-stage will still treat Israel with disdain and moral equivalence, particularly when it comes to the alleged “plight” of the Palestinians.


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