New Bezalel Academy of Art institute is a ‘hotbed for anti-Zionism,’ report says

The purpose of the institute is to study Arab art “in the context of Israeli colonialism,” said its head and founder.

By World Israel News Staff 

A new Israeli government-funded institute in the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design is a “hotbed for anti-Zionism,” according to a report issued by the Im Tirtzu watchdog.

The Institute for the Study of Arabic Culture in the Visual Arts, Design and Architecture was established in December 2018 with the goal of “constructing an academic and cultural space focusing on Arab legacy and reform in general, and on the Palestinian culture in particular,” says the watchdog.

However, according to Im Tirtzu, “the true goal of the institute is to encourage Arab students to oppose Israel, to perpetuate the myth of the Nakba, and to undermine coexistence by promoting isolationism.”

Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic and is the term used from a Palestinian perspective to refer to Israel’s independence in May 1948.

Im Tirtzu says that its research found “a number of problematic activities of the institute, including an official Bezalel Academy flyer created for the launch of the institute that accused Israel of “caus[ing] a catastrophe (Nakba) against the Palestinians… who have become against their will citizens in a country that is in a state of war against their own people.”

On its Facebook page, the institute also accused Israel of perpetrating a “continuous Nakba,” Im Tirtzu notes.

The report further cites an interview with the founder and head of the institute, Professor Senan Abdelqader, who is quoted as saying that “one of the goals of the institute is to train our youth to be leaders through their consciousness, so that they can continue with their struggle and resistance against the violations of our rights, traditions, and culture.”

Abdelqader is also accused of saying that the purpose of the institute was to study Arab art “in the context of Israeli colonialism.”

No photo description available.

Im Tirtzu noted that this activity is being done “at the expense of the taxpayer,” as Bezalel Academy receives some NIS 80 million annually in public funds.

Due to the lack of public information regarding the institute’s funding and activities, Im Tirtzu’s legal division is said to have filed a request under the Freedom of Information Law to Bezalel Academy asking for the relevant information.

According to Im Tirtzu, Bezalel replied that despite issuing official publications marking the launch of the institute, there has not yet been a final decision to establish it, rather only to conduct research on the study of Arab culture in the visual arts, design, and architecture.

Bezalel Academy divulged that for this “research,” it received NIS 50,000 from the Israeli government-sponsored “President’s Fund,” another 150,000 from the Israeli government-funded national lottery, and € 10,000 from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Germany which funds a wide array of far-left NGOs in Israel, Im Tirtzu says.

Shortly after the watchdog made its request, the institute’s Facebook page was apparently taken down. It is unclear why it was removed.

“Once again, we are seeing how taxpayer funds are being used to fuel anti-Zionism in Israeli academia,” said Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg.

“Israeli academia has become an incubator for anti-Zionist and post-Zionist ideas,” he charged, stating that “the time has come for the universities to take responsibility and end this academic groupthink that has resulted from academics hiring only those who they agree with.”

Peleg added: “There is no room in Israeli academia, especially in a prestigious institution like Bezalel, for ‘research’ that promotes the same ideas of ‘struggle’ and ‘resistance’ used by Hamas and Hezbollah.”