A stormy debate erupted yesterday (Tuesday) in the Knesset Education Committee when several bereaved families spoke out against academic programs that offer students credits and scholarships for interning in NGOs that defend terrorists in court. The bereaved families waved pictures of their loved ones and demanded to remove these programs from academia.

The committee was convened following the report that academic programs offer students credits and scholarships for interning in foreign government-funded NGOs that engage in a wide array of highly controversial activity. Among these NGOs is “HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual,” which defends terrorists and their families in court. Upon hearing the news, the Forum for Bereaved Families immediately penned a letter to Minister of Education Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) and Chairman of the Education Committee MK Yakov Margi (Shas) urging them to remove these programs from academia.

Devorah Gonen, the mother of Danny Gonen z’l who was murdered by a terrorist while hiking near the village of Dolev in 2015, said: “We feel that our loved ones were murdered a second time. The Council for Higher Education must end this absurdity immediately. This is a dangerous snowball; if today students can intern at organizations that strengthen the murderers of Jews, I fear that the next step will be even worse. It is sad that we have to beg for this. Israeli academia is degrading the murder of our loved ones. The blood of those murdered is crying out from the ground.”

Hadas Mizrahi, who lost her husband Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi z’l in a terror shooting last Passover, said: “Baruch was murdered because he was a citizen of the State of Israel. It is absurd that the Council for Higher Education permits an organization like “HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual” to have a place in academia. What message are we sending to our society? For the murder of Jews we award prizes? For this students receive scholarships? How have we gotten here!?”

A representative from the Council for Higher Education was present at the discussion and said: “The Council rejects all attempts to politicize academia and calls to expose the students to a wide range of opinions. The Chairman of the Council has appointed Professor Asa Kasher to create an ethical code that will examine the connection between politics and academia.”

Doron Mizrahi, father of IDF soldier Ziv Mizrahi z’l, waved a picture of his son to members of the committee and said: “How have we gotten to this situation that we, the bereaved families, need to beg in order to stop this absurdity? It cannot be that our taxes continue to fund organizations that work against Israeli citizens. I demand: help us prevent the next murder.”

Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu movement, which exposed these academic programs to the public, said: “Our hearts are with the bereaved families that fight against those who defend the murderers of their loved ones on a daily basis. Now the families are getting another slap in the face, this time from the Council for Higher Education.”

Peleg continued: “Anti-Zionist political organizations that receive funding from foreign governments have no place in Israeli academia. The fact that one can receive academic credits for interning at organizations like “B’Tselem,” HaMoked,” and “Baladna” is an utter disgrace to academia, and strengthens the delegitimization campaign against Israel from within.”