Students clash at Hebrew University over memorial to slain soldier

Following the arrest of two brothers from the Bedouin community as suspects in Ron Kokia’s nationalist-motivated murder, pro- and anti-Israel students set up competing tables at Hebrew University.

By: Batya Jerenberg

Student members of pro-Israel NGO Im Tirtzu set up a table at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with the Israeli flag and a memorial candle honoring the memory of Ron Kukia, a 19-year-old soldier killed in Arad last week by Arab terrorists. According to Im Tirtzu, students belonging to Hadash, one of the Arab political parties making up the Joint List, immediately put up a table with the Palestinian flag and political material right next to it, in protest.

In a short video of the event, an Im Tirtzu activist can be heard saying, “Students put here a flag of terror, of Palestine…What a disgrace to the Hebrew University….The minute a soldier is mentioned, they put up the flag in whose name they kill us.”

In reaction to the incident, Im Tirtzu Chairman Matan Peleg said, “Whoever sows incitement reaps violence. When the Hebrew University permits calls on campus to destroy the State of Israel in the name of free speech, it paves the way for more serious acts.” He called for Minister of Education Naftali Bennett to summon the university president for “urgent clarification.”

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Im Tirtzu has protested many times about Hebrew University in recent years, saying it provides a platform to extremist groups that promote BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel in the name of freedom of expression. After a recent conference that featured representatives of the pro-Palestinian Coalition of Women for Peace, Peleg stated, “It is very unfortunate that Hebrew University opts to provide a platform for BDS organizations who are the embodiment of the new anti-Semitism.”

Responding to Monday’s incident, the university put out a statement defending itself from the sharp criticism. “The Hebrew University allows freedom of expression of a variety of opinions and views, provided that the activity does not constitute a violation of the law. The various [student] groups are asked to follow regulations and avoid any act of verbal and physical abuse. The security personnel dispersed the gathering in order to protect students’ and public safety. “