Netanyahu blasts Hebrew U for banning national anthem at graduation ceremony

Netanyahu called the Hebrew University’s decision not to play Hatikvah at a graduation ceremony the “peak of subservience, the opposite of national pride.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision made by Hebrew University’s Faculty of Humanities not to play Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, at a graduation ceremony “embarrassing” and the “peak of subservience, the opposite of national pride.”

Netanyahu made the remarks following a recording obtained by the Im Tirtzu Zionist student organization in which a university worker explained that the faculty’s dean ordered the national anthem off the agenda, so as not to offend Arab students.

“We are proud of our country, our flag, our national anthem, and this only reinforces my opinion to pass the national law that we are leading in order to anchor into law the national symbols that are so dear to us,” added Netanyahu.

He was referring to the Nation-State Law, which declares, “Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it realizes its aspirations for self-determination according to its cultural and historic traditions.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the head of the Council for Higher Education, phoned Hebrew University President Menahem Ben-Sasson and clarified that Hatikvah needs to be played at every state ceremony held at the university.

Bennett added that with regards to non-state ceremonies, “the decision of whether or not to play the anthem cannot be influenced by consideration of whose feelings it hurts, as a symbol of the State of Israel does not constitute any harm.”

Naftali also pointed out that as a state-funded public institution, Hebrew University must “honor the state that stands behind it.”

Ben-Sasson said he would ensure the national anthem is played at state ceremonies, while he would look into this specific event.

In a statement released by Hebrew University, it asserted that “there is no statutory provision and/or guidance from the Council for Higher Education regarding the singing of anthems at academic ceremonies, hence there is no basis for complaints to the university on the subject.”

“At official state ceremonies at Hebrew University, the national anthem is played as usual. At academic ceremonies there is no obligation to play the anthem,” it said.

The university failed to address the hurt feelings of the majority of Jewish students, who will be offended that their national anthem will not be sung during this meaningful event.

Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat said the decision was offensive and “degrades the splendid Zionist heritage of one of the most important institutions in Israel.”

He called on the university to renege on the “stupid” decision and “restore its honor.”

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg noted that “over the past few weeks, we have been witness to a number of anti-Israel events held on Israeli campuses, including events marking Israel’s establishment as a catastrophe.”

“We welcome the mobilization of government officials who are working to stop this absurdity,” Peleg added.

By: Aryeh savir, World Israel News