Education minister quotes scripture to justify protests

Gideon Sa’ar says tent protests "show the existence of a social conscience"; messages of social justice are interwoven in the words of the prophets.

By JONAH MANDEL
August 2, 2011 02:38
2 minute read.
Gideon Sa’ar speaks

Gideon Sa’ar speech 311. (photo credit: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar praised on Monday the tent protest movement, which “shows the existence of a social conscience,” and hinted through a biblical parallel that his government should find ways to work with, and not against, the protesters and their demands.

“We are living in a maelstrom these days, that necessitates a very balanced attitude,” Sa’ar told attendants at the opening session of the annual Bible-learning conference at Herzog College in Alon Shvut.

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“If you go to the Bible, you can find many parallels as to how to deal with popular protest.”

“In Kings chapter 12 Rehoboam is given two pieces of advice, from the old men and from the youth. Should he, to use the words of Menachem Begin, be beneficial with the people, or harden the burden? Unfortunately, Rehoboam acted on the harder line of advice, that of the children, and said the famous line ‘my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.’ The result of that was the split between the kingdoms of Judea and Israel,” said Sa’ar, whose mother was a bible teacher.

“A double lesson can be learned from this – not only as far as the result, but also with whom one should consult,” said the minister.

Sa’ar addressed the claims against the protesters, as though they represent an indulgent and demanding generation.

“We are a people with two traits, one can be seen with criticism – Israel’s leaders, even Moses, noted it – the fact that we complain. That is of course legitimate,” he said. “The other aspect that characterizes us is the demand for social justice.



“In that aspect, the slogans of the recent days are nothing new, the messages of social justice are interwoven in the words of the prophets. The biblical imperative of justice, the attitude to the poor, the stranger, the orphan and widow – these are fundamental calls for repairing society.

And we should be proud of them,” said Sa’ar.

The minister stressed, however, that “the duty to mend is upon the political leadership, that needs to balance the demands with what can and what cannot be done, and take into account the results of the decisions.”

“Beyond all that can be said about the protest, it shows the existence of a social conscience,” he added.

Hailed as the biggest Bible-learning event in the world, the five-day event will bring together over a hundred leading bible teachers who will present a plethora of scriptural- based lessons to an estimated 10,000 participants.

“We are dealing with the variety of the Bible’s books from a broad perspective, coming from a deep conception of observance taking into account the achievements of science, research and culture, while dealing with the faith-related questions this encounter can provide,” said the event’s director Rami Yanai.

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