A revolution is brewing at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem – for the first time in several years a distinctly pro-Israel student union has come to power. The upheaval is due to the dedicated efforts of Im Tirtzu ("if you will it"), an on-campus Zionist advocacy group.
“The situation had gotten pretty bad,” Im Tirtzu activist Amit Barak explains. “The Hebrew University student newspaper was attacking the City of David in Jerusalem, we had been labeled as extremists for demonstrating in support of Israeli soldiers, and the student union was prepared to give funding to an Arab student group which undermines the right of Israel to exist.”
“But we succeeded in creating a revolution,” Barak says. “We organized the students, elected a new student union management, and for the first time in years have a pro-Israel student union.”
Im Tirtzu Rally for IDF Soldiers
The new student union leadership was elected in June. In its first meeting on Monday, it voted to define the student union as a Zionist group which defines Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. It also agreed to give more support to students who serve in the IDF reserves and will fund events for Jewish and Israeli holidays.
The previous student union, which was heavily influenced by groups who identify with the extreme left-wing Meretz and the Arab political parties, had agreed to provide funding to the Arab student union, a body which boycotts the regular student union and has elements that reject the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
“They demonstrate for the Palestinian Authority, for Hamas, for a state of all its citizens,” Barak explained. “The Arab student union holds protests which incite against Israel and against IDF soldiers.”
Barak explained that the Arab student union wanted funding from the regular student union, but at the same time Arab students also participated in the regular student union. In essence, the Arab students were trying to double their representation at the university to promote a radical left-wing agenda.
Im Tirtzu joined up with other student groups and ran under a united list, the Forum for Students. The pro-Israeli student group managed to win over the hearts – and the votes – of Hebrew University students and has regained control of the student union.
“Now every student union event will end with HaTikvah (the Israeli anthem),” Barak said. “Incredibly, that wasn’t a given until now, but we’re finally seeing a positive change at Hebrew University.”