Ben Gurion University (BGU) on Tuesday refused to allow a student light a candle inside the University, in memory of three people killed in a terror attack near the city of Ariel.
On the initiative of the Im Tirtzu organization's Ben Gurion University branch, the student union, and MK Almog Cohen (Otzma Yehudit), an event took place Wednesday, during which candles were lit at Ben Gurion University in memory of those murdered in the terror attacks.
According to Im Tirtzu, after a defamatory and false announcement by Ben Gurion University, many students, Im Tirtzu activists, and its administration employees, together with MK Almog Cohen, came Wednesday morning to honor and commemorate on the university grounds the memory of those murdered in Tuesday's attack in Ariel.
The event was organized by the Im Tirtzu coordinator at the university, Clara Bensoussan, together with the student union on campus.
In a press release, Im Tirtzu said that on Tuesday night, the university management refused to allow the candle-lighting event to take place inside the campus, claiming that it is a "political event that must be coordinated two working days in advance." In addition, the university's spokesmanship issued a false and defamatory statement in which they claimed that an Im Tirtzu activist, an immigrant from France who served in the Border Police, tried to "take advantage of the attack to incite a provocation."
Clara Bensoussan, a student at the university and coordinator of Im Tirtzu on campus, said: "We cannot be allowed to be slandered by the spokeswomen of the university. The attempt to claim that I tried to incite provocation, just because I wanted to light candles, indicates an emotional opacity."
"I immigrated from France, I served in the Border Police, and I did it proudly for the State of Israel. I dreamed of the moment when I could study at an academic institution in Israel without fear of expressing my national identity.
"It is not clear how, out of all people, the spokeswoman of the university chose to issue a statement that I tried to take advantage of the attack. Those who are afraid of any basic expression of national identification - need to hold themselves accountable."
MK Almog Cohen, who initiated the vigil Wednesday morning together with the Im Tirtzu activists and the student union in Ben Gurion, said: "I took advantage of my recent immunity as a MK on my first day in office and lit memorial candles together with the Im Tirtzu movement on the grounds of Ben Gurion University, for the uplifting of the souls of the martyrs from yesterday's terrible attack in Ariel. May they rest in peace."
In a response to Im Tirtzu, Ben Gurion University said: "It is important to us to explain the events as they actually took place: 1. Like all of Israel, we are horrified by the attack which took place this morning, and we share in the sorrow of the families. 2. It is always permitted to light memorial candles in the university and to fly Israeli flags. 3. Events which include the organization of a large number of people, unlike spontaneous candle-lightings, require special organization on our part, and for these events only, we require two days' preparation."
"Regarding yesterday's events: As was stated, the request of a student to light candles does not require any approval at all, unlike an event or demonstration which require approval ahead of time and appropriate preparations. This was also explained orally to the student.
"Unfortunately, it seems that someone wished to arouse a provocation. A mail was sent which created an understanding that they were interested in holding an event - something which is possible to hold only two days after a request is submitted. After they chose to hold a private event outside the campus, they were asked by the security guards to do this on the side so as not to disturb passersby, and that is indeed what they did.
"We are sorry for the cynical and ugly misuse of this horrific terror attack, and especially at an hour when we are all mourning the deaths of innocents. We are aware of the fact that this is a sensitive issue, and we invite responses and the expression of opinions."