Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the decision not to play the national anthem at the award ceremony for graduates of the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu slams the Hebrew University's contraversial decision

Netanyahu slams the Hebrew University’s contraversial decision Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO/ Channel 2 News

Netanyahu criticized the Hebrew University’s decision, which was first publicized on the Army Radio station earlier today, as “shameful.” He added: “We are proud of our country, our flag, our anthem and it only reinforces my opinion to pass the Nationality Law that we are promoting in order to anchor in law the national symbols that are so dear to us.”

In recordings first revealed on the “Good Morning Israel” radio program, an administrative employee in the Humanities Faculty could be heard explaining that the national anthem would not be played at this evening’s ceremony because of what she called “consideration for the other side,” referring to Arab students and their guests who would be attending the ceremony.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

This move, which caused a similar uproar at the same faculty this time last year, sparked a storm on campus. In an interview with the radio station, Deputy Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (HaBayit Hayehudi) attacked the decision and said that “this is a disgrace.”

“They have forgotten that Israel is first and foremost Jewish and then democratic. Maybe we will cancel the Law of Return, since there is no such law that applies to Arabs,” he said sarcastically. “I hope that Bennett will intervene in the matter and will not let this continue.”

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem responded that “there is no statutory provision and/or instruction from the Council for Higher Education regarding the singing of the anthem at academic ceremonies. Therefore there is no basis for any argument against Hebrew University on the subject.” The university clarified that in national ceremonies, the national anthem will be played as usual, but at academic ceremonies, there is no such obligation.