Israeli university overturns prohibition on hanging Israeli flags following backlash

A resident of the Bar-Ilan student dormitory told World Israel News that he and others were “disturbed” by the directive.

By World Israel News Staff

Bar-Ilan University issued a statement last week clarifying that Israeli flags can be put up anywhere in the campus after the company managing the university’s dormitories sent a letter to students forbidding it.

The Electra Group company, which manages the dorms of Bar-Ilan University, sent an email at the end of February to students prohibiting them from hanging Israeli flags in the dorms.

“Here are a number of rules regarding hanging flags and other objects out of the window or room of the apartment,” the Electra Group email read. “It is prohibited to hang flags of any kind outside the window (including Israeli flags).”

Notably, the email was sent before Ramadan, when an uptick in Arab violence is expected to take place.

After the email was reported by journalist Amir Ettinger from the Hebrew-language Srugim news outlet, student activists from the pro-Israel Im Tirtzu group organized a demonstration on campus and distributed hundreds of flags in the dorms.

Following the outcry, Bar-Ilan University issued a statement assuring students that there is no such prohibition.

“Following the reports of Amir Ettinger, the university administration would like to clarify: Israeli flags can be hung anywhere on campus, including in the dormitories. Bar-Ilan University is proud that Israeli flags have been accompanying its activities throughout the years. The message distributed to residents of the dormitories by the management company was not the opinion of the university administration.”

Shai Rosengarten, Im Tirtzu’s national campus coordinator, welcomed the university’s announcement.

“This is an important victory for Zionism,” said Rosengarten, “and we are glad that Bar-Ilan University clarified the issue.”

“Anyone who views the Israeli flag as a provocation does not understand the essence of our existence here,” he added.

‘Delicate social fabric’

“These are international dorms where students from different communities and countries live. Our directive that pertains to all flags and symbols is only valid for the dorm area to protect the delicate social fabric in which the students live,” the Electra Group said in a statement.

One might wonder what the company means by protecting the delicate social fabric. World Israel News emailed Electra, asking if it means that students should be careful not to insult others who might be anti-Israel, but received no response.

“The notion that the Israeli flag disrupts the social fabric in Israel is absurd and destructive to the very social fabric that the Electra Group seemingly wants the preserve,” Rosengarten told World Israel News.

A resident of the Bar-Ilan student dormitory said that he and others were disturbed by the directive.

“We didn’t understand why they did it. They didn’t explain why. Some suspected that perhaps Arab students complained; others thought the opposite, that perhaps some [pro-Palestinian] students put up their own flags, prompting the Jewish students to complain,” he told World Israel News.

“So perhaps they didn’t want a messy situation. I think one person went to speak to the administration…but was offered no reason,” he said.

Turgeman and others were “bothered somewhat,” he added, “mainly because some residences had flags of other countries, like Nigeria. I live here two years already and there has never been a problem [with flags], and suddenly we’re told to take them down. It didn’t feel right.”

Asked if it could have been done out of fear of violence ahead of Ramadan, he said, “Could be.”

Bar-Ilan, which according to its website is “the only university in Israel to successfully unite academic excellence and advanced research with Jewish heritage,” is known to have a higher percentage of religious Zionist students than most other universities in the country.

UPDATE: Electra sent the following response on Sunday afternoon.

“The email that was sent to the tenants about two months ago aims to preserve the architectural facade and interior of the building, in which a lot of planning and thought has been invested for the well-being of the students living in it. The email included a number of sections aimed at maintaining the appearance of the project and the quality of life in it”.