On 20 January heads of universities in the occupied territories were summoned by the military authorities to Nablus to meet an "important person." They arrived to find Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, principal architect of the current Israeli policy towards the universities. Rabin, flanked by Coordinator for the Occupied Territories Shlomo Goren and Civil Administration head Ephraim Sneh, told university administrators they must prevent political demonstrations on campus and warned, according to Council of Higher Education head Dr. Anton Sarsour, that "if there was a need to close down the universities, he would." Rabin's tough talk was repeated to the assembled Israeli media, who apparently knew in advance the identity of the "important person" and the time of the meeting.
Penny Johnson is assistant to the public relations director, Birzeit University.