The Hebrew University of Jerusalem hits back at criticism sparked by reports one of its departments would not play the Israeli national anthem at a graduation ceremony later today out of consideration for Arab students.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision “shameful” while Education Minister Naftali Bennett urged the university to honor the state at the ceremony.

In a statement, the Hebrew University says there is no institution-wide policy on playing the anthem at academic events, and the decision to do so rests with the heads of individual departments.

The statement notes there is no legal requirement regarding the playing of the anthem at school events, and says there is “no justification for the sharp criticism” directed at the university.

At official state ceremonies held at the Hebrew University, the statement says the national anthem is played “as usual.”

Much of Israel’s Arab minority feels excluded by the anthem’s emphasis on Jewish historic aspirations for statehood.

— with AP

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