Bezalel School of Art located in Jerusalem
Bezalel School of Art located in JerusalemDoron Horowitz/Flash90

A new government-funded institute in the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design is a hotbed for anti-Zionism, according to a new report by the pro-Israel watchdog group Im Tirtzu.

The report examines a year since the founding of Bezalel Academy's "Institute for the Study of Arab Culture in the Visual Arts, Design and Architecture," which was established in December 2018 with the goal of "constructing an academic and cultural space focusing on Arab legacy and reform in general, and on the Palestinian culture in particular."

According to Im Tirtzu, the true goal of the institute is to encourage Arab students to oppose Israel, to perpetuate the myth of "the Nakba" [Catastrophe, in Arabic, referring to the establishment of the State of Israel], and to undermine coexistence by promoting isolationism.

The report cites a number of problematic activities of the institute, including an official Bezalel Academy flyer created for the launch of the institute that accused Israel of "caus[ing] a catastrophe (Nakba) against the Palestinians… who have become against their will citizens in a country that is in a state of war against their own people."

On its Facebook page, the institute also accused Israel of perpetrating a "continuous Nakba."

The report further cites an interview with the founder and head of the institute, Professor Senan Abdelqader, who stated: "One of the goals of the institute is to train our youth to be leaders through their consciousness, so that they can continue with their struggle and resistance against the violations of our rights, traditions, and culture."

Abdelqader also said that the purpose of the institute was to study Arab art "in the context of Israeli colonialism."

Im Tirtzu claimed that this activity is being done "at the expense of the taxpayer," as Bezalel Academy receives some 80 million NIS annually in public funds.

Due to the lack of public information regarding the institute's funding and activities, Im Tirtzu's Legal Division filed a request under the Freedom of Information Law to Bezalel Academy asking for the relevant information.

Bezalel replied that despite issuing official publications marking the launch of the institute, there has not yet been a final decision to establish it, rather only to conduct research on the study of Arab culture in the visual arts, design and architecture.

Bezalel Academy divulged that for this "research" it received 150,000 NIS from the Israeli government-funded national lottery and 10,000 euros from the controversial German Rosa Luxemburg Foundation that funds a wide array of far-left NGOs in Israel.

Shortly after Im Tirtzu's request, the institute's Facebook page was taken down. It is unclear why it was removed.

"Once again, we are seeing how taxpayer funds are being used to fuel anti-Zionism in Israeli academia," said Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg.

"Israeli academia has become an incubator for anti-Zionist and post-Zionist ideas," continued Peleg, "and the time has come for the universities to take responsibility and end this academic groupthink that has resulted from academics hiring only those who they agree with."

Peleg added: "There is no room in Israeli academia, especially in a prestigious institution like Bezalel, for 'research' that promotes the same ideas of 'struggle' and 'resistance' used by Hamas and Hezbollah."