Tel Aviv principal breaks law, opens doors to radical anti-Israel group

Israel’s Education Ministry promised to take disciplinary action after an Israeli high school invited a radical anti-Israel group to speak to the students. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A high school principal broke the law Sunday when he invited the head of the extreme leftist organization Breaking the Silence to speak to students as part of an annual commemoration of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s office issued a strongly worded statement.

“The minister sees the principal’s action this morning as an anti-educational act that harms IDF soldiers,” the statement read, and spoke of  “disciplinary procedures” against the school.

The so-called “Breaking the Silence law,” submitted by Bennett’s party, Jewish Home, passed in July. It states that organizations delegitimizing the State of Israel, acting against IDF soldiers and the objectives of the Israeli education system will not be permitted to enter school premises or meet with students.

Breaking the Silence, funded largely by foreign sources, describes its purpose as opposing the so-called “occupation” by publicizing hyper-critical stories about the IDF from mostly anonymous military sources.

Principal Ran Cohen of the Tichonet High School in Tel Aviv responded by saying, “We’re not afraid of having a discussion,” claiming that students were free to choose which lectures to attend.

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Breaking the Silence was not the only group invited. There were also organizations not overtly political, according to Haaretz, such as the Crisis Center for Victims of Sexual Assault, and at least one representative of the right-wing Jewish Voice website, which is associated with residents of the Jewish community of Yitzhar in Samaria.

While BTS spokesman Dean Issacharoff praised Cohen for being the first to invite his organization to speak since the law was passed, he denied Sunday that the law actually applied to his organization.

“We do not promote refusal to serve, we only provide soldiers’ testimonies. And we do not call for soldiers to be tried in international forums or anywhere else,” Issacharoff  maintained.

The law states, however, “The Minister shall prescribe rules for the prevention of an activity in an educational institution of an individual or a body that is not part of the education system whose activity contradicts in a significant and serious manner the objectives of state education.”

And Bennett has argued that the law applies to BTS.

A significant number of parents at the school apparently agree. According to Israel Hayom, the parents declared their intention to disrupt the school’s schedule this week to protest what they called “Principal Cohen’s attempts to mold the political views of his students.”

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