Nazi salutes cause row at Hebrew U.

Left-wing students display gesture to Zionist activists.

hitler salute nazi 63 (photo credit: )
hitler salute nazi 63
(photo credit: )
A student organization that promotes Zionism on campus is fuming after its members were given the Nazi salute by left-wing students during student elections at the Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus last week. Members of the Im Tirtzu (If You Will It) group said that as they made their rounds on last Tuesday, singing songs and waving the national flag, a member of another student organization - Campus L'kulanu (Campus For All) - approached them and made the stiff-arm Nazi salute as they passed. "We were walking by, singing songs like "Am Yisrael Hai" and "Yerushalaim Shel Zahav," and she stood nearby making the salute," said Amit Barak, the deputy director of Im Tirtzu, who sent a letter concerning the incident to the university's President Menachem Magidor and a number of Knesset members. "Later in the day, another member of their group did the same thing," Barak said. "He approached us and made the salute - it was shocking, and a lot of other students, who aren't members of either organization, were looking on in horror." "Later on, other members of their group also tried to block our path as we were walking," he continued. "It was all very provocative, and I could tell they were trying to provoke a violent reaction." Campus L'kulanu, which is made up of students who support the Meretz and Hadash political parties, among others, did not offer an explanation on Tuesday. One member declined comment, saying he had not been on campus during the incident, while phone calls from The Jerusalem Post to members who were on campus that day were not returned. In a written response, however, a Hebrew University spokeswoman said that one of the students involved had come to the Dean's Office to apologize for the incident. "After receiving the complaint from the Im Tirtzu organization, the student approached the Dean's Office on his own initiative, and asked to apologize. The student claimed that his actions were done as an individual, and he realized it had been a mistake." Barak said neither he nor his organization had been informed of the apology, and rejected the idea that the saluting student was "acting alone." "I remember both of them," he said. "It was a girl first and then the guy who's apparently apologized. She was wearing a Campus L'kulanu shirt while she gave the Nazi salute, I can't remember if he was or not. But it doesn't matter, they obviously weren't acting alone." In his letter to Magidor, Barak also said that regardless of any political point the students may have been trying to make, "the use of Nazi symbols in a place like Israel, where the Holocaust is still a very sensitive issue, offends the feelings of many people and is extremely intolerable." Barak also cited a bill that was proposed in the Knesset in 2007, which would have prohibited the use of Nazi symbols except for educational, historical or other informational purposes, or to protest against the racist nature of Nazism itself. That bill, which was sponsored by then-Labor MK Colette Avital, wasn't approved, but Barak wrote in his letter that to the Campus L'kulanu students, it would make little difference if it had. "I am sure, regardless of the bill or any other bill like it, these students would continue to act in an offensive way that expresses such a lack of values," he wrote. The Hebrew University itself has come under fire in recent days, as its annual Board of Governors meeting has drawn increased criticism from right-wing groups saying professors at the institution are increasingly anti-Israel. An ad sponsored by the group Isracampus that appeared in Monday's Post called on the board of Governors to become aware of "what is really taking place inside the Hebrew University." The ad goes on to say that professors and lecturers at the university "endorse terrorist attacks against Jews, call for international boycotts against Israel, collaborate with anti-Semites and openly call for Israel's destruction," among other allegations. Isracampus did not return e-mails from the Post on Tuesday, but the university addressed the issue in an e-mail. "The university will not respond to baseless claims made by organizations or individuals via paid advertisements that are published in the press," it read. "If the university happens to receive any legitimate complaints, it will handle these accordingly. "The university is very proud to allow freedom of speech on campus - which includes the voicing of opinions from across the political spectrum - as long as it is in accordance with Israeli law."