The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will award two academic credits to students who volunteer with the right-wing movement Im Tirtzu, despite the institution's bylaws that determine that organizations recognized as "partisan" or "political" would not be awarded points for social engagement.
A spokesperson for the university said the movement had no partisan or political affiliation, and that the credits were given after the movement declared that it focuses on social activities for the needy, elderly and disadvantaged in Jerusalem, including Israeli-Arabs.
Meretz leader MK Nitzan Horowitz said in response to the move that, "Im Tirtzu is an extremist right-wing movement, its 'social' activity amounts to incitement against leftists and marking 'traitors from the inside'.
"The Hebrew University's claim that this is a non-political movement is both wrong and detached from reality," he added. "I urge the university management to correct this invalid discrimination and rescind its decision to give benefits to the organization."
In response, Im Tirtzu released the following statement: “As the largest Zionist organization in Israel and the most active student movement on campuses in the country, we call on all students who want to continue to realize the Zionist vision and promote the values of Zionism in the 21st century as well, to join the activities of Im Tirtzu. Now, students can volunteer and help the people of Israel and their future and receive two academic credits. This is good news for Zionist students everywhere.”Im Tirtzu translated as "if you will it." The organization was established in 2006 with the aim of strengthening and promoting "the values of Zionism in Israel" and operates 15 branches in academic institutions in Israel.The movement has gained attention from its clashes with far-Left controversial organizations, such as "Breaking the Silence" and "The New Israel Fund."
In 2010, the group sued five left-wing activists for slander over a Facebook group named "If you want a fascist movement, there's one already." After three years in court, a Jerusalem district Judge threw out a large portion of the claims, explaining that the movement does indeed bear similarities to fascism. However, a few years later the Supreme Court dismissed the Jerusalem court's ruling in favor of Im Tirtzu.
In 2018, Bar Ilan University banned the movement from distributing two booklets named "Nakba Nonsense" and "The Palestinian Refugee Lie," after deeming that their "distribution was prone to cause riots and confrontations between different student groups."
Last May, the group launched a website that listed 85 professors that they claimed supported anti-Israel and anti-Zionist actions, many of which were later accused by other organizations and people of going against the State of Israel. However, the site was met with heavy criticism by the Left, drawing comparisons to fascism and McCarthyism, with one Hebrew U. professor going so far as refusing to teach Im Tirtzu activists, referring to them as "Nazi dogs."