Arab students from Haifa University in northern Israel refused to stand for the Israeli national anthem during a graduation ceremony.
The university held the ceremony on campus Sunday for undergraduate students.
At the end of the graduation ceremony, Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikva” was played and participants asked to rise.
A number of Arab students remained seated, however, and refused to join in singing the anthem.
“The situation was upsetting and inappropriate,” one graduating student told Israel National News. “They are Israeli citizens. Even if they don’t identify with its ideals, they should at least stand to honor the singing of the national anthem of the state they are a part of.”
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party) responded on Twitter to footage of the incident, saying: “This isn’t a matter of semantics, and it isn’t a minor [phenomenon].”
“This is critical for our future. The audacity, the impudence, and the gall of many Israeli Arabs has reached new heights and is turning into an existential threat [to Israel] and security threat to all of us.”
“You cannot eat from the state’s hand and at the same time spit on it. Can’t identify with the country and its anthem? So don't get a college degree at the country’s expense. Go learn in Gaza. We’ll arrange it.”