Ben-Gurion University tried banning memorial for Israeli terror victims, calling it ‘political’

Apparently fearing negative publicity, especially with the attendance of an MK, BGU finally allowed the event to proceed.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A newly sworn-in MK from the Religious Zionism party lit candles on the campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in memory of the victims of the deadly Ariel terror attack on Tuesday, less than a day after the university’s staff had deemed the commemoration a “political provocation.”

Hours after a Palestinian terrorist murdered three Israeli civilians in a stabbing and ramming attack, Im Tirtzu activist and Ben-Gurion University student Clara Bensoussan organized a candlelight vigil to honor the victims.

But university administrators said that Bensoussan’s memorial could not be held on campus, calling it a “political event” that must be cleared with staff at least two days in advance.

After Bensoussan told media about the university’s position, the educational institution released a statement charging that she was attempting to “take advantage of the attack to incite a provocation.”

MK Almog Cohen, of the Otzma Yehudit faction within the Religious Zionism party, joined Bensoussan and supporters at the campus on Wednesday morning. Apparently fearing negative publicity, BGU allowed the event to proceed.

Cohen, who was sworn into the Knesset on Tuesday, said “he took advantage” of his new immunity as an MK and was proud to light candles for “the uplifting of the souls of the martyrs from [yesterday’s] terrible attack in Ariel. May they rest in peace.”

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In a statement Wednesday morning, Bensoussan slammed the university for suggesting that she had an ulterior motive for the vigil and expressed her offense at the claim that demonstrating solidarity for Jewish victims of terror is inherently provocative.

“We cannot be allowed to be slandered by the spokeswomen of the university,” she responded in a statement. “The attempt to claim that I tried to incite provocation, just because I wanted to light candles, indicates an emotional [ignorance]. I immigrated from France, I served in [the Border Police], and I did it proudly for the State of Israel.

“I dreamed of the moment when I could study at an academic institution in Israel without fear of expressing my national identity,” she said.

“It is not clear how, out of all people, the spokeswoman of the university chose to issue a statement that I tried to take advantage of the attack. Those who are afraid of any basic expression of national identification – need to hold themselves accountable.”