Hebrew U lecturer apologizes after scolding student for wearing army uniform
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Hebrew U lecturer apologizes after scolding student for wearing army uniform

Dr. Carola Hilfrich contrite after footage shows her saying soldier was ‘naive’ to think she wouldn’t be harassed by another student over her attire

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has apologized for an incident in which a lecturer was captured on video criticizing a student for coming to the classroom in military uniform and telling her that she would be “treated accordingly.”

The soldier had been repeatedly harassed by a fellow student for wearing the IDF uniform during a class taught by Dr. Carola Hilfrich on Tuesday, Hebrew-language media reported.

However, when she complained to Hilfrich after the class, the lecturer placed the blame on the soldier, telling her: “You can’t be naive and be here in uniform and ask to be treated as a civilian.

“You are a soldier in Israel’s military and you will be treated accordingly,” Hilfrich can be heard yelling at her in the corridor in footage captured by a fellow student.

The soldier can be heard responding by saying: “I serve and defend the country. Does it disturb anyone that I sit in class in my uniform?”

“There are people for whom civil society is as important as the army is to you, and you must be tolerant toward their priorities like they accept and confront your priorities,” Hilfrich responded.

The lecturer then told the student to send her a written letter, saying she had “listened enough” and that “you aren’t even respecting my time.”

A student who filmed the angry encounter later told the Ynet website that “I just witnessed the most infuriating incident I’ve seen in all of my many years in the university. Instead of booting the student who had been disrupting the class and insulting the soldier, the lecturer castigated the soldier after class for choosing to come in uniform.”

The incident caused outrage, with students organizing protests on Wednesday and the National Union of Israeli Students saying that “it is shameful to see students humiliated simply for wearing a uniform. We never imagined that the very wearing of an army uniform would be a problem to any of the lecturers.

“It is an unacceptable reality for a student to even have the slight feeling that the campus isn’t a safe space for them,” the union added.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Wikimedia Commons via JTA)

The right-wing Im Tirtzu student organization called the incident “a new low in Israeli academia” and urged Education Minister Naftali Bennett to have Hilfrich fired.

Following the public outrage, the university issued a statement saying both it and Hilfrich were apologizing to the student.

“Following the unfortunate incident regarding soldiers studying in the university, we want to unequivocally clarify the university’s stance on the matter,” it said.

“The Hebrew University is proud to have active servicemen and servicewomen among its students,” it added. “We happily accept them in any attire.

“That has always been the university’s stance, and it’s important to clarify that there was no physical violence as claimed in various reports. The lecturer, as well as the university management, has chosen to publicly apologize to the student.”

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