Professor Says Leftist 'Terrorists' Made Him Apologize for Comments

Bar-Ilan's Professor Weiss apologized for wishing death on commander during Hebron evacuation.

Professor Hillel Weiss, soon after submitting a written apology for disparaging remarks he made on an Israel Defense Forces commander last week, said on Monday that leftist "terrorist" pressure forced him to do so.

Weiss, a professor at Bar Ilan University, sent a letter apologizing for wishing death on IDF Hebron Brigade Commander Yehuda Fuchs during the forced evacuation of the Hebron wholesale market last week. The apology was addressed to IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Police Commissioner David Cohen.

Soon thereafter, he told Israel Radio that he had been forced to apologize by the president of the university, who in turn was being pressured by "Mapai terrorists."

Mapai was Israel's dominant left-wing party until the 1960s.

Weiss was filmed saying of Colonel Yehuda Fuchs, "I hope his mother will be bereaved, his wife will be a widow and his children orphans."

Moshe Kaveh, president of Bar-Ilan University, said in response that he regrets that "Professor Weiss knows how to curse and not to apologize," and that the two, in fact, had not spoken on the matter.

Earlier Monday, Kaveh had praised the apology, but said that the university would still consider trying Weiss in an internal disciplinary tribunal. Such a measure is rarely taken by universities.

Weiss will come before a committee headed by Professor Yaakov Neeman, chairman of the university's managing committee and a former justice minister, which will determine whether or not to try him.

Weiss, who had refused to apologize until now, wrote in the letter that he is sorry that "he sunk to using curses" and that he "apologizes for what he said in a fit of rage."

Weiss' death wish set off a wave of condemnations as well as calls to have him suspended from the university.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak approached Attorney General Menachem Mazuz last Thursday on the matter, requesting that Mazuz consider legal action. Ashkenazi ordered the chief army prosecutor to discuss the matter with Mazuz as well.

Later Thursday, Judea and Samaria District Police launched a criminal investigation against Weiss over the incident for suspected incitement.

Ashkenazi spoke to both Colonel Fuchs and his wife on the phone and gave them his full support. According to an army official, Ashkenazi told Fuchs that he was disgusted by Weiss' disparaging words.

"His statements were horrific and need condemnation and public denunciation... The university views his actions very gravely, and demands he take responsibility for them," Kaveh said.