MK Itamar Ben-Gvir (Religious Zionist Party) participated in a panel at Blich High School in Ramat Gan on Tuesday, despite opposition from parents and politicians.
Members of Otzma Yehudit, Ben-Gvir’s faction within RZP, gathered outside the school, as did anti-Ben-Gvir protesters from a number of left-wing organizations.
"His arrival is accompanied by encouraging the students to think critically."Blich High School principal
The Otzma Yehudit protesters were led by Ben-Gvir’s No. 3 Almog Cohen, who is seventh on the RZP list. They held signs saying “Death to Terrorists” and “It is time for Ben-Gvir.”
Cohen shouted into a megaphone that the anti Ben-Gvir protesters were “self-hating antisemites.”
At one point, pro-Ben-Gvir students started shouting at the opposite group, “Your village should burn,” a popular racist chant usually directed at Arabs.
Meretz Youth was one of the groups protesting against Ben-Gvir under the slogan: “We are the children that Ben-Gvir will deport.”
“Kahanism and racism are not legitimate opinions in the political system, they are violent views that threaten to destroy Israeli democracy,” Meretz Youth said in a statement earlier on Tuesday. “Ben-Gvir is not legitimate; teenagers do not need to hear terrible racism in their school directed at Arabs, LGBT and leftists.”
“I am full of pride for the high school students at Blich for standing strong against the crazy Left… I will discuss democracy, Zionism, and loving the land and the country. The shouting of the demented Left will not deter me. With God’s help, we will win, form a fully right-wing government and bring sanity back to the country,” Cohen said.
“When [Joint List head] Ayman Odeh, who supports hurting IDF soldiers, comes here it’s okay; when [Meretz MK] Yair Golan criticizes them and when [fellow Meretz MK] Nitzan Horowitz said he thinks Israeli soldiers should be prosecuted at the ICC, it’s all good – but it’s my mouth they want to shut,” he told the students, according to Walla.
“The IDF didn’t enlist you,” one student hollered at him, “you called Baruch Goldstein your hero, a man who murdered 29 people.”
"Kahanism and racism are not legitimate opinions in the political system, they are violent views that threaten to destroy Israeli democracy. Ben Gvir is not legitimate, teenagers do not need to hear terrible racism in their school directed at Arabs, LGBT and leftists."Meretz Youth
Why is Blich at the center of all this?
Blich holds an election panel ahead of every election and invites members of all parties to participate. In a letter to parents sent out on Tuesday, school principal Hilah Romash argued that Ben-Gvir was legally given the green light to run and therefore should be allowed to participate.
“As an educational institution, we are committed to pluralism and freedom of speech, which are core values of democratic governance,” she wrote.
While the opposition to his visit is understood, “ his arrival is accompanied by encouraging the students to think critically. We as an educational institution cannot ignore social-political processes that are occurring in the country. We believe that turning a blind eye to these processes will not help the students cope with the complex Israeli reality,” Romash wrote.
MK Gilad Kariv of Labor also arrived at the school to protest against Ben-Gvir.
‘Those who invite Ben-Gvir to speak to high school students should not be surprised when dozens of them gather next to the gate and yell ‘Your village should burn.’ This is not democratic education; it is moral and educational bankruptcy,” he said.
“The Israeli Right has enough talented speakers, and it is not necessary to invite a man who hung the picture of a murderer and terrorist [Baruch Goldstein] on his wall. This is not the way to encourage active civil engagement among high school students.”
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.