Knesset advances bill banning Breaking the Silence from schools

The bill, in addition to banning organizations which "act against the IDF" also aims to integrate the state's goals for meaningful IDF service into the curriculum.

February 27, 2018 15:00
2 minute read.
A general view shows the plenum during the swearing-in ceremony of the 20th Knesset, the new Israeli

A general view shows the plenum during the swearing-in ceremony of the 20th Knesset, the new Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem March 31, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Knesset has given initial approval to a legislation that would grant the Education Ministry the authority to ban organizations deemed as acting against the Israel Defense Forces from entering schools.

The proposed amendment to the State Education Law, initiated by MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) passed a first reading on Monday by a vote of 35 in favor and 23 opposed.

The bill seeks to grant the education minister “the authority to prohibit individuals or organizations that are not part of the education system from engaging in activities within an education institution when the nature of the activity undermines the goals of the state education system or one that works to harm IDF soldiers who are a consensus in Israeli society.”

It further proposes to add to the goals of the state education system the education for a meaningful service in the IDF or national service.

The bill will mainly target organizations such as Breaking the Silence and other extreme left-wing NGOs and will prevent them from speaking or entering schools.

 “Breaking the Silence and all the organizations like them, their goal is not to reform but to undermine the existence of the State of Israel, to harm IDF soldiers and officers,” said Moalem-Refaeli, in the debate which preceded the vote.

“It is permissible to criticize the army, but anyone who undermines the existence of the State of Israel and libels IDF soldiers to the point where they are persecuted in international courts cannot claim innocence. The misguided attempt to attribute to IDF soldiers the desire to murder children has no place in our schools,” she said.

The opposition slammed the legislation for trying to silence different opinions.

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said that Breaking the Silence is “an organization of soldiers and commanders in the army, some of whom perform reserve duty. The organization calls on the government to change its policy of occupation. These are our boys and girls who you send to protect your settlements at the price of damage to the State of Israel. It is you who is undermining the existence of the State of Israel by turning us into a country that is ruled by settlers, while the Zionist vision is gradually ending. It is our right to bring different opinions to our schools.”

Breaking the Silence also castigated the legislation and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose party initiated the bill.

“For a year and a half Bennett has made infinite failed attempts to prevent us from meeting teenagers from across the country. Those who are harming the IDF are the politicians, like Bennett, who are sending us to control Palestinians, and are silent when settlers attack soldiers and Palestinians as a routine,” Breaking the Silence tweeted in response.

“Naftali, get down from the hills and internalize – the only way to stop us is to end the occupation,” the group tweeted.

The bill is set to go up for a vote in the Knesset Education, Sports and Culture Committee in the near future and then for the second and third (final) readings in the plenum.

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