Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Nazi Salutes by Leftists and Arabs at the Hebrew University


Nazi salutes cause row at Hebrew U.

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

"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 it had.

"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

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."

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