Bar-Ilan found not guilty

May 24, 1996

An inquiry into Israel's Bar-Ilan University, established after the assassination of Yitshak Rabin by one of its students, has largely cleared the university of contributing to the political atmosphere on campus in the lead up to the killing.

The controversial 80-page report, published last week by the university's external committee, found the atmosphere on campus "calm, peaceful, moderate and tolerant" and not a "hotbed of political activity, radicalism or extremism," according to university spokesman David Weinberg.

The report, published five months after it was commissioned and after questioning 35 witnesses, investigates the university's activities, dealing at length with the atmosphere on campus, prior to the shooting of the former prime minister last November by Yigael Amir, then a Bar-Ilan law student.

It examines the university's responsibility for political activities on campus, including demonstrations on a nearby bridge, racist posters put up around campus, the role played by some of Amir's colleagues, the status of the Institute for Torah Studies (kollel) and the role played by university lecturers.

The committee, headed by ex-attorney general Yosef Harish, with Haim Kubersky, former director general of the Interior Ministry, and Aharon Kirshenbaum of Tel Aviv University's Law Faculty, "vindicate" Bar-Ilan, saying "there is no basis to the allegations which have been made against Bar-Ilan University that its overall existence constituted a hot-bed, breeding ground or den of incitement . . . for seeds of violent activity". It deems the demonstrations on the bridge to be outside Bar-Ilan's campus and thus a "public domain"; and did not find proof to indict any of Amir's colleagues; nevertheless it criticises the university for not "controlling its political activities".

It advises the university to "control political activities all over campus"; to "patrol the campus to control the political posters that are put up"; to supervise more stringently its organisations abroad (following the publication in the United States after the assassination of brochures carrying pictures of Yigael Amir); and to better integrate the Institute of Torah Studies.

University heads set up the committee to determine whether the campus atmosphere was conductive to violence and could have caused Amir's actions, or whether he acted on his own. Its report categorically describes Amir as a "lone wolf" and concludes that it was a "coincidence that the murderer came out of the student body of Bar-Ilan University".

While many public figures blamed the university, the committee concluded that "there is no other institution that does more than Bar-Ilan to bridge the gap between the secular and religious populations".

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