Bar-Ilan University allows only Israeli flags to be hung in dorms

The ban on flags by Electra is still in place, just not for Israeli flags • Nesya Liberman: "The general ban on flags violates freedom of expression and should never have been instituted"

 Im Tirtzu student activists are seen waving Israeli flags in protest at Bar-Ilan University. (photo credit: IM TIRTZU)
Im Tirtzu student activists are seen waving Israeli flags in protest at Bar-Ilan University.
(photo credit: IM TIRTZU)

Israeli flags can now be hung anywhere on Bar-Ilan University's campus, overturning Electra, the company in charge of the dormitories, which had previously prohibited it.

In an email sent to students in February, Electra stated that it was now prohibited to hang flags of any kind in the dorms, specifically highlighting Israeli flags.

According to the initial report by Srugim on the subject, the decision was motivated in part by the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when tensions can often flare between Israeli Arabs and Jews. 

However, this soon generated backlash, particularly following the report by Srugim and a demonstration organized by student activists of the right-wing organization Im Tirtzu.

In response, the university's dormitory department has come out and allowed Israeli flags to be hung throughout campus, including student dorms, emailing students accordingly.

"Bar-Ilan University is proud that Israeli flags accompany all its activities throughout the year," the university said in a statement on Twitter. "The notice distributed to residents of the dormitories by the management company was not the opinion of the university."

This was welcome news to Im Tirtzu, with national campus coordinator Shai Rosengarten calling it "an important victory for Zionism."

"Anyone who views the Israeli flag as a provocation does not understand the essence of our existence here," Rosengarten said.

Indeed, Bar-Ilan is known for its religious bend, having the world's largest Jewish studies program. However, it has also been accused of being especially conservative, particularly in its approach to Judaism and traditional Orthodox Jewish values.

However, not everyone at the university is particularly happy with the new announcement, especially since the ban on flags still applies, just not to Israeli flags. Other flags, such as a Palestinian flag, are still banned.

"Im Tirzu is right, the Israeli flag is not a provocation – especially in light of the recent terror attacks. Students have a right to express national solidarity," explained dorm resident and Jewish studies major Nesya Lieberman. 

"But if a student dared to hang a Palestinian flag in the dorms, the Jewish majority on campus would most likely erupt with anger. If our society is really committed to peace with an eventual Palestinian state, that double standard is unacceptable. If Israeli pride isn't a provocation, then Palestinian pride shouldn't be seen as one either. Furthermore, on a more fundamental level, universities should be havens for freedom of expression. The general ban on flags violates this principle and should never have been instituted in the first place."