Middle East Monitor / February 14, 2020
Hebrew University is set to award academic credits to students “who volunteer for the right-wing group Im Tirtzu”, reported Haaretz, “although the university regulations state that such credits are not to be given for work with political groups”.
Since its founding in 2006, Im Tirtzu has become notorious for its right-wing activism and intimidation of academics and organisations it deems to be “left-wing” and “unpatriotic”. The organisation itself says it merely seeks to promote “the values of Zionism in Israel”.
Im Tirtzu now operates 15 branches in “different academic institutions throughout the country”, reported Haaretz, and since 2017, has “operated a phone line to take reports about lecturers”.
Last year, Im Tirtzu started a website “that posted the names and contact information of dozens of lecturers who had expressed left-wing opinions”.
In addition, the organisation’s activists often protest against human rights NGOs, and have attacked Breaking the Silence – a group publishing first-person testimonies of veterans of the Israeli army – as “foreign moles who protect terrorists”.
Hebrew University responded to the news by stating “that the academic credits given for volunteering with Im Tirtzu are not for political activity, but rather for social service, and that such recognition is given to any organisation that meets the minimum requirements”.
Students opposing the move have written to university officials, arguing that “it seems that the university has made a mistake in judgment as to the political identity of Im Tirtzu”.
This is a clearly right-wing organisation whose activities in general are delegitimisation of organisations and individuals whose positions differ [from those of the organisation].
Im Tirtzu responded: “As the largest Zionist organisation 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 [our] activities.”
“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.”