Education Minister bans anti-Israel group from schools, but it gives lecture anyway

“The lecture did take place and the Israeli government will have to contend with our existence until the apartheid regime ends,” B’Tselem tweeted in response.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Education Minister Yoav Galant on Monday ordered education officials to block a European-funded anti-Israel NGO from speaking to high school students after the B’Tselem organization announced that it now views Israel as an “apartheid” state.

“We will not allow organizations that call the State of Israel ‘State of Apartheid’ to lecture to students who are about to be drafted into the IDF,” Galant said in a statement. He “instructed the director general of the ministry and the directors of the districts and divisions to ban the entry of these organizations into the education system.”

According to Galant’s directive, schools must prohibit the entry of organizations “that operate contrary to the purposes of state education, including the portraying the State of Israel in false derogatory terms.”

Despite the ban, B’Tselem CEO Hagai Elad tweeted that he had talked to students at a high school in Haifa and said he would continue to push his message.

“The lecture did take place and the Israeli government will have to contend with our existence until the apartheid regime ends,” B’Tselem tweeted in response.

Last week, B’Tselem issued a press statement accusing Israel of being “an apartheid regime” and the organization “rejects the perception of Israel as a democracy.”

However, while the declaration got wide coverage abroad, it was generally ignored in Israel including by the Hebrew website of the left-wing Haaretz newspaper that didn’t consider the announcement newsworthy, the media watchdog website The 7th Eye reported, noting that in Israel the B’Tselem statement was only covered in English.

“This is fascinating. B’Tselem was once a key part of Israeli discourse. Prime ministers worried about what it would say,” commented Times of Israel political analyst Haviv Rettig Gur. “No longer. It’s now a foreign-funded, foreign-aimed PR operation producing increasingly bombastic reports for progressive CNN journos. Israelis don’t hear it.”

According to the watchdog group NGO Monitor, the bulk of B’Tselem’s funding comes from foreign sources and between 2012-2020 B’Tselem received 46,258,659 shekels ($14.3 million) from foreign governmental bodies. Forced to reveal funding sources by Israeli transparency law, the organization on its own website states that “B’Tselem was 69% funded by foreign state entities in 2019.”

“B’tselem has traded any remaining credibility within Israel for taking center stage in the anti-Israel propaganda arena,” NGO Monitor tweeted last week, adding that their funders have to decide between ending financial support, “or continuing to share responsibility for these attacks.”

“This is no longer the same NGO that once gained respect, even from critics, by championing human rights based on credible research. Today, it is a platform for demonizers … and for promulgating the ‘apartheid’ libel,” NGO Monitor noted.

Eugene Kontorovich, a well-known professor of constitutional and international law at George Mason University, said the apartheid accusation “is not just totally false, it is anti-Semitic.”

“Invoking the heinous crime of apartheid to criticize Israeli policy is a classic anti-Semitic rhetoric: it accuses Jews, uniquely among the peoples of the world, of one of the most heinous crimes, while also judging the Jewish state by a metric not applied to any other country,” wrote Kontorovich, who is a contributor to the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Forum that promotes Israeli democracy.