The Education Ministry said Sunday it was searching for students it believes hung an Israeli flag with the writing “Death to leftists” at the site of a Nazi massacre during a school trip to Poland.
Army Radio reported the flag was discovered by students earlier this month as they toured Lopuchowo forest in northeast Poland, where SS soldiers slaughtered over 1,400 Jews from the nearby town of Tykocin in August 1941.
As students came to a memorial site in the forest, where hundreds of Jews were shot in massive execution pits, a number of them found the flag, on which someone had scrawled in Hebrew “Let’s go, moving forward, death to leftists.”
Akiva Azoulay, a teacher who serves as a guide on school trips to Poland, said he was shocked when he saw the flag.
"יאללה המשך, מוות לשמאלנים". על דגל ישראל ביער לופוחובה. תלוי על בורות ההריגה של יהודי טיקוצ'ין. שבת שלום לכולם. pic.twitter.com/xyfegUNMxu
— uricovagerev (@uricovagerev) August 12, 2016
“I didn’t know what to tell my students,” he told Army Radio. “As an educator it bothered me very much.”
Azoulay said trip organizers were looking into the incident. However, he stressed that the incident was “a very extreme, very extraordinary case” and was not characteristic of the trip program as a whole.
Hanan Yechiely, who was one of the group of students that found the flag, said “finding such an inscription — which would be grave without any connection to Poland — hanging over a death pit where people were slaughtered just for belonging to a certain group… for an Israeli to call for death to another group, is an outright repeat of history.
“This is what was done to us and now we’re calling for someone to do it to others,” he added incredulously.
Gil Faran, head of the organization of Poland tour guides, wrote to the Education Ministry that the case “obviously represents a failure to understand the essence of the journey and its goals.”
He demanded an investigation and punishment for the students involved, saying the incident “cannot be allowed to go by without an appropriate response by the Education Ministry.”
The ministry seemed to agree, saying Sunday it was determined to find those involved and take action. The student who wrote the words, the ministry said in a statement, “apparently didn’t fathom the purpose of his being there” in the first place.