The Humanities Dept. at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem will hold a diploma ceremony Thursday evening , during which, according to Army Radio, Israel’s national anthem Hatikvah will not be played because of, as a department official put it, “consideration for the other side,” meaning Arab students and their families.
Last year the same department also decided not to play the national anthem at the graduation ceremony, a decision that raised great opposition among students and faculty. The Im Tirtzu movement sent a letter to the Humanities Dept. dean demanding that the national anthem be played in the belief that it is of paramount importance that a leading academic body in Israel project that it feels comfortable with the existence of the State of Israel.
Deputy Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi) told Army Radio, “It’s a disgrace. They have forgotten that Israel is first and foremost Jewish and only then a democracy. Perhaps we should cancel the Law of Return as well, because it does not apply to Arabs.”
Ben Dahan then called on his party’s chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett to “intervene in this matter and not let it continue.”
The Hebrew University issued a statement saying “there is no statutory provision and/or directive from the Council for Higher Education regarding the singing of anthems at academic ceremonies, and therefore there is no basis for any complaint against the Hebrew University on this matter.”
In other words, as is typical in such instances, the institute of high learning chose to be right rather than smart. Perhaps the Humanities Dept. will now receive a much needed lesson in humility.