After stormy debate, bill advances to ban left-wing NGO from schools

The MKs approved the measure 51-17.

January 12, 2017 00:23
3 minute read.
EMPLOYEES WORK at the offices of the Breaking the Silence NGO in Tel Aviv in 2015

EMPLOYEES WORK at the offices of the Breaking the Silence NGO in Tel Aviv in 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Knesset passed on Wednesday in preliminary reading a bill that would allow the education minister to bar leftwing NGO Breaking the Silence from schools.

The MKs approved the measure 51-17.

“It is not an ‘against’ bill,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the chairman of Bayit Yehudi. “It is a bill ‘in favor.’ It is a bill in favor of the State of Israel. It is a bill in favor of the IDF. It promotes genuine education, education for values, for Zionism, for a meaningful service in the IDF.

“This bill represents sane Zionism that protects itself and its military and will not accept those who act as in the Second Temple days, and are asking to burn our food stores and destroy the nation from within. But we learned our lesson: We will not let them destroy our home.”

The bill, submitted by Bayit Yehudi MKs Shuli Moalem-Refaeli and Bezalel Smotrich, and signed by lawmakers from coalition and opposition parties, would add “encouraging significant service in the IDF and protecting the status and honor of the IDF” to the goals of public education as listed in the existing law.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, a cosponsor of the legislation, accused the Left of allying with Palestinian terrorism by spreading lies.

“Last Sunday there was a march in Bethlehem. Its title was ‘A March for Peace.’ ‘Finally,’ one might say, ‘Palestinians are supporting peace.’ But then you look closely and see that they were holding the photo of Dalal Mughrabi who led the deadly terrorist attack on the Coastal Road in the ’70s that killed 35 Israelis,” Lapid said.

“The fact that they call it ‘A March for Peace’ exemplifies the industry of lies,” he said. “In front of the world they talk about peace, but at the same time they idolize violence, incitement and lies.

“This ‘industry of lies’ has partners in Israel. Time after time it has been proven that Breaking the Silence is lying, but its supporters – also in this House – do not care. According to them, Israel is always guilty.

“Time after time we see them sitting in BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement] conferences, helping them spread their lies abroad... Israel is being attacked by terrorists, tunnels are being dug, rockets are being fired at our children, a truck runs over soldiers in Jerusalem, but according to them Israel is always guilty.”

Lapid’s speech caused uproar among Meretz’s lawmakers, who were ejected from the plenum by the speaker one by one.

“We are more patriotic than you,” Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On shouted at Lapid before being sent out.

“This is pure populism.”

MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), who opposed the bill, blamed its supporters for trying to “claim ownership” of the IDF.

“Mr. Education Minister,” he said, “what are you afraid of? That young people will say something that isn’t in the consensus? No one here owns the IDF; you may be confused and think you own it, but I’ve got news for you, the IDF belongs to all of us.

“What you are doing here with this bill is strangling the public discourse in Israel,” Shai said. “It is up to the education minister to open the eyes of the students and expose them to as many ideas and world views as possible.”

Breaking the Silence CEO Yuli Novak posted on her Twitter account a statement following the vote: “The Zionist Union has 24 members of Knesset, but in front of the fascist and violent show of Bennett and Bayit Yehudi only 17 MKs from the opposition took a stand [against the legislation]. Four of them from Meretz. You should be ashamed! “To the MKs from Yesh Atid, I send my condolences that they allowed Yair [Lapid] to turn you into [Bezalel] Smotrich’s and Bayit Hayehudi lap dogs. You can continue to sweat. You want to shut us up? End the occupation. Until then, we are here,” Novak wrote.

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