Israeli university to give credits to students who work with far-right group

Israeli university to give credits to students who work with far-right group
The university said the right-wing Im Tirtzu meets the criteria required of groups allocated for volunteering.
2 min read
19 November, 2020
Israeli students take part in a tour organised by Im Tirtzu [Getty]
Students at the Israeli Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will be given two academic credits for volunteering with the right-wing group Im Tirtzu.

The controversial NGO is among 30 groups allocated for volunteering by the university, Haaretz reported.

The university said that Im Tirtzu meets the criteria required to be considered a volunteer organisation, including that its activities are not political.

The volunteering scheme comes under a broader Israeli initiative encouraging students to become more active in their communities.

Universities may give students credits for volunteering 30 hours a year for organisations which the law states must not be political or party affiliated.

Im Tirtzu applied to Ben Gurion University of the Negev last year to be included among volunteering organisations but were turned down due to an administrative technicality, Haaretz reported.

This year, the right-wing organisation's application was accepted. The university's legal advisor concluded its recognition would not break the law as the proposed activities were not of a political nature, sources told Haartez.

Im Tirtzu describes itself as an organisation that wants to strengthen "Zionist values" in Israel and combat a "campaign of de-legitimisation of the State of Israel".

Founded in 2006, part of its efforts are directed at confronting left-wing academia. 

In 2019, a website launched by the group said students ought to root out "anti-Zionist" professors within Israel. It also invited students to complain about lecturers who "preach anti-Israel rhetoric".

The right-wing NGO has also campaigned against pro-Palestinian Israeli human rights organisations, such as Zochrot - which is dedicated to raising awareness of the Nakba in Israel - HaMoked, and Peace Now, which it has accused of being "foreign agents".

Im Tirtzu has been described as a "fascist" organisation by some Israeli activists and even by Likud politician Benny Begin.

The group released a report entitled "Nakba Nonsense" in 2011 which called the 1948 forced displacement of more than 700,000 Palestinians during the foundation of the state of Israel a "lie that threatens to drown us like a tsunami".

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