Hillel Weiss, a tenured Hebrew literature professor at Bar-Ilan University, submitted a letter of apology Monday to the IDF's chief of General Staff for publicly wishing death on a high-ranking IDF commander. Last week, during the evacuation of two Jewish families from Hebron's Arab market, Weiss stood before a news camera and recounted how he had cursed Col. Yehuda Fuchs, an IDF brigade commander.
Netanyahu: Weiss remarks are 'incitement'
"I told him I hope his mother will be bereaved, his wife will be a widow and his children orphans," Weiss told a Ynet reporter and cameraman.
In his apology letter, Weiss said he was sorry for making the comments.
But in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Weiss lamented threats against him by "left-wing, Labor terrorists." Weiss said these "terrorists" had put pressure on Bar-Ilan University President Moshe Kaveh to extract his apology.
"Kaveh is a lackey of left-wing, establishment interests," said Weiss. "He is a good man but he is a ghetto Jew who is afraid of losing his job."
Weiss's mention of "left-wing terrorists" was a referral to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and MK Matan Vilna'i (Labor), who threatened Friday that the IDF would consider breaking ties with Bar-Ilan University unless Weiss was immediately suspended.
Bar-Ilan University spokesman Shmuel Elgrably said Monday that regardless of Weiss's apology, which was "better late than never" and "really only half an apology," a special committee headed by attorney Ya'acov Ne'eman would investigate whether it was possible to take disciplinary action against Weiss.
Police have also launched an investigation against Weiss on charges of incitement to kill. In addition, a group of about 60 professors and researchers at Bar-Ilan University signed a petition to be published in the news media denouncing Weiss's comments as "reprehensible and repugnant."
"We wanted to make it clear that Weiss's opinions were not typical of Bar-Ilan University," said Aren Maeir, a professor of biblical archaeology. "Maintaining the university's image as a normative, sane institution - which it is - is important to us. We do not want someone who comes forward with offensive statements to be considered typical of Bar-Ilan."
In his written apology, addressed to IDF Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen, Weiss wrote that, "media reports gave the impression that I harbored antipathy for soldiers who risk their lives for the land and the people. I am sorry for stooping to such a level of cursing, and I regret this."
Weiss went on to write that his remarks were taken out of context.
"I had just been forcibly evacuated from my daughter Tehila's residence with my son-in-law, Moshe, and six grandchildren, the oldest six years old, were also forcibly evacuated, for the third time in the past two years," he wrote.
Weiss added that he had no intention of wishing for the death of a Jewish soldier.
"I myself was a paratrooper and a soldier in elite units," Weiss wrote. "I wish all the soldiers and all the people of Israel and all the residents of this country and region complete safety, and not destruction, God-forbid," he concluded. But Weiss said that his political views remained unchanged. "The IDF is not an occupier in its own country and cannot treat its countrymen as enemies. And in any event, I will continue to voice my opinions and fight for them."