Hebrew University Spokespeople dismiss IsraCampus.Org.il’s
claims of Anti-Israel activity from Faculty as “baseless”
salutes cause row at Hebrew U.
Abe Selig, THE
Jun. 10, 2009
A student organization that promotes
Zionism on campus is fuming after its members were given the Nazi
salute by left-wing students during student elections at the Hebrew
University's Mount Scopus campus last week.
Members of the Im Tirtzu (If You
Will It) group said that as they made their rounds on last Tuesday,
singing songs and waving the national flag, a member of another
student organization - Campus L'kulanu (Campus For All) - approached
them and made the stiff-arm Nazi salute as they passed.
"We were walking by, singing songs
like "Am Yisrael Hai" and "Yerushalaim Shel Zahav," and she stood
nearby making the salute," said Amit Barak, the deputy director of
Im Tirtzu, who sent a letter concerning the incident to the
university's President Menachem Magidor and a number of Knesset
"Later in the day, another member of
their group did the same thing," Barak said. "He approached us and
made the salute - it was shocking, and a lot of other students, who
aren't members of either organization, where looking on in horror."
"Later on, other members of their
group also tried to block our path as we were walking," he
continued. "It was all very provocative, and I could tell they were
trying to provoke a violent reaction."
Campus L'kulanu, which is made up of
students who support the Meretz and Hadash political parties, among
others, did not offer an explanation on Tuesday. One member declined
comment, saying he had not been on campus during the incident, while
phone calls from The Jerusalem Post to members who were on
campus that day were not returned.
In a written response, however, a
Hebrew University spokeswoman said that one of the students involved
had come to the Dean's Office to apologize for the incident.
"After receiving the complaint from
the Im Tirtzu organization, the student approached the Dean's Office
on his own initiative, and asked to apologize. The student claimed
that his actions were done as an individual, and he realized it had
been a mistake."
Barak said neither he nor his
organization had been informed of the apology, and rejected the idea
that the saluting student was "acting alone."
"I remember both of them," he said.
"It was a girl first and then the guy who's apparently apologized.
She was wearing a Campus L'kulanu shirt while she gave the Nazi
salute, I can't remember if he was or not. But it doesn't matter,
they obviously weren't acting alone."
In his letter to Magidor, Barak also
said that regardless of any political point the students may have
been trying to make, "the use of Nazi symbols in a place like
Israel, where the Holocaust is still a very sensitive issue, offends
the feelings of many people and is extremely intolerable."
Barak also cited a bill that was
proposed in the Knesset in 2007, which would have prohibited the use
of Nazi symbols except for educational, historical or other
informational purposes, or to protest against the racist nature of
Nazism itself. That bill, which was sponsored by then-Labor MK
Colette Avital, wasn't approved, but Barak wrote in his letter that
to the Campus L'kulanu students, it would make little difference if
"I am sure, regardless of the bill
or any other bill like it, these students would continue to act in
an offensive way that expresses such a lack of values," he wrote.
The Hebrew University itself has
come under fire in recent days, as its annual Board of Governors
meeting has drawn increased criticism from right-wing groups saying
professors at the institution are increasingly anti-Israel.
An ad sponsored by the group
Isracampus that appeared in Monday's Post called on the board
of Governors to become aware of "what is really taking place inside
the Hebrew University."
The ad goes on to say that
professors and lecturers at the university "endorse terrorist
attacks against Jews, call for international boycotts against
Israel, collaborate with anti-Semites and openly call for Israel's
destruction," among other allegations.
Isracampus did not return e-mails
from the Post on Tuesday, but the university addressed the
issue in an e-mail.
"The university will not respond to
baseless claims made by organizations or individuals via paid
advertisements that are published in the press," it read. "If the
university happens to receive any legitimate complaints, it will
handle these accordingly.
"The university is very proud to
allow freedom of speech on campus - which includes the voicing of
opinions from across the political spectrum - as long as it is in
accordance with Israeli law."
Articles appearing on IsraCampus.Org.il are those of the writer and
do not necessarily represent the opinion of IsraCampus.Org.il