Political Activism Returns With Vigor to Bar Ilan

Until recently, any 'scent' of political programming was prohibited at Bar Ilan. Now, students seek to return Jewish, Zionist values.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

debate at Bar Ilan
debate at Bar Ilan
Yoni Kempinski

On Monday, Bar Ilan University held a debate between Naftali Bennett, former director of the Yesha Council and Ashraf Al-Ajrami, former PA Minister of Prisoner Affairs. 

As part of the university’s week of political programming, the adversaries discussed the contentious Israeli-‘Palestinian’ conflict, incitement in Gaza, and the regional implications of the “Arab Spring.”

Since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, it has been prohibited to hold activities on university grounds that had “any scent” of political activism, Liron Politzer, Chair of the Bar Ilan University Student Union, told Arutz 7.

Recently, though, the university has been changing its policy, encouraging students to engage in political activities and discourse.  “We have people from the right and the left,” Politzer said. “We support every activity here. We think the university should be a place where you can have those kind of discussions.”

Akiva Lamm, of the Lavi- Gilad student organization, said the group recently decided to protest the Student Union’s cooperation with the ‘One Voice’ organization leading to their inviting Ashraf Al-Airami to speak at campus.  Ashraf has previously encouraged and provoked the abduction of Israeli soldiers. This is something, even under the guidelines of freedom of speech, that should not be discussed, Lamm asserted.

“We want to bring back the discussion of Zionist and Jewish identity,” he said. Bar Ilan used to pride itself on being an institution founded on Jewish and Zionist values, he continued, but “somewhere along the way” they were lost and “we want to bring that back.”

“I think Israeli society has to make a decision about its fate,” Naftali Bennett told Arutz 7.  “I think the Arabs are irrelevant in this equation because not many people, if any, today believe that there will be a peace arrangement between the ’Palestinians’ and the Israelis.”

“Right now we are in a vacuum,” Bennett continued. “It's time for the national camp to present an initiative… and apply Israeli law on the Israeli parts of Judea and Samaria – the 60% of Judea and Samaria where 100 percent of Jews live, it has to be considered Israel, so it's time to  step up to the plate and demand that. Apply Israeli law on Judea and Samaria.”

Bennett, who was formerly Prime Minister Netanyahu’s chief of staff, said that he is  “profoundly disappointed with Netanyahu regarding his acceptance of a potential Palestinian state west of the Jordan. That would be a disaster- he knows it, I know it, we all know it.”

“He did it under severe pressure from president Obama. The way to overcome it is not to be silent but to step up and begin applying Israeli law in Judea and Samaria,” he asserted.