Catholic woman to lead prestigious Israel university for first time

Catholic woman to lead prestigious Israel university for first time Professor Mouna Maroun Photo: American Society of the University of Haifa

For the first time, an Arab Christian woman has been elected as the rector of an Israeli university — the University of Haifa. The announcement of Professor Mouna Maroun’s appointment was made earlier in April amid tensions with Iran and while anti-Israel protests were mounting at universities around the world.

Ms Maroun belongs to the Arab minority in Israel, the Christian minority among Arabs, and the Maronite minority among Christians. No other Arab, Christian, or woman has held the position of rector before at the University of Haifa. (In the Israeli system, the rector is the head of the university.)

For this reason, Ms Maroun said in an interview with CNA, “my election is an important message that everything is possible in the Israeli academia. It is a message for the Christian minority that we are rooted here, that we can succeed here; and it is also a message for the young Arab generations: If you have a dream you can really realise it within the Israel society and especially in universities”.

Ms Maroun has embraced that belief as well. “My childhood was around being very active in the Church and studying, knowing that only through studying I could have succeeded in Israel.”

Regarding this prestigious position in academia, she said: “I have always believed that the emancipation of the Arab minority in Israel is through higher education. I don’t believe in politics; I do believe in higher education”.