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U.S. Arm of Bar-ilan Under Fire for Photos of Rabin’s Assassination


American Friends of Bar-IIan University, still reeling from the shock of finding out the confessed killer of Yitzhak Rabin was one of their students, sustained another public relations nightmare late last week.

Israeli media reported that the university deliberately used promotional material here in New York featuring pictures of the confessed killer, Yigal Amir.

Such a claim was “inconceivable,” said Hedy Shulman, director of public relations for American Friends of Bar-IIan.

Doing that deliberately “would be the equivalent of suicide” for the organization, she said.

Nonetheless, Shulman said she was “horrified” to learn last Friday that pictures of Amir were inadvertently published in a promotional journal distributed at the organization’s dinner on Jan. 21 in New York.

“It was a total, inadvertent catastrophe,” she said. “We are extremely pained and horrified.”

Bar-IIan University President Moshe Kaveh said the inclusion of Amir’s photo was “an egregious error of oversight, not an act of intent or malice.”

Kaveh, who took office Feb. 1, said the brochure had been prepared wholly by American Friends, and that no administration members had seen it before it was distributed at the dinner.

He said that in the wake of the incident, the university would demand to review all promotional literature.

Yehuda HaLevy, the chairman of the American fund-raising arm, left Sunday for Israel to meet with administration officials.

Shulman took pains to explain that the dinner was initially scheduled for Nov. 12, but was postponed out of respect for the memory of the slain prime minister.

The Jan. 21 dinner itself “turned out to be a tribute to Yitzhak Rabin,” she said.

The dinner journal contained photos taken the year before and chosen in October, she said. Sometimes before the dinner, she said, the organization was alerted to the fact that some people thought Amir was pictured in the journal, “but we concluded it wasn’t him,” she said.

“It looked like some of the other Yemenite students,” she said.

“To have this depicted as a deliberate, conscious [effort] to glorify” the killing “goes totally against anything we stand for,” said Shulman.

Shlomo Eckstein, who ended his appointment as university president Jan. 31, said that by an oversight no one checked the pictures after the Rabin assassination.

Eckstein said the chances of Amir being chosen for the brochure was one in 20,000, and of appearing in the journal, after the assassination, was one in a million.

“The absurdity that in a journal dedicated wholly to the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, that the picture of the murderer as one of several students appears in it, is impossible to explain,” he told Israel Radio.

Several Israeli legislators demanded explanations for the oversight. Education Minister Amnon Rubinstein said steps should be taken against those responsible for the brochure.

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