Gallant appoints IDF colleague as Education Ministry director-general

Despite holding interviews with qualified educators, Galant went ahead with appointing Col. (Ret.) Amit Adri. He also appointed Prof. Dan Ariely to lead a volunteer team to advise on education.

Yoav Gallant. (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Yoav Gallant. (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Education Minister Yoav Gallant has appointed an old military colleague of his, Col. (ret.) Amit Adri, to serve as Education Ministry director-general, replacing Shmuel Abuav, the ministry reported last Thursday.
Adri is a newcomer to the world of education. Especially at this time of extreme uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have been possible to appoint a person who came up through the ranks within the field of education and knows more the needs of the office.
Gallant, who has an army background, attempted to pressure the teachers’ union to offer extra working days during the summer vacation without commensurate pay. The union took him to court, where he lost, after being admonished for tardiness and lack of sufficient preparation. The ruling may imply that what might work within a military structure could backfire if used by math and history teachers.
The appointment comes on the heels of Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov leaving the position after being one of the key players in the nation’s response to the first wave of COVID-19.
Like Adri, who doesn’t come from the field of education, Siman Tov lacked any background in health when he took the position, but he had experience at the Finance Ministry. Adri is a logistics man who served under Gallant during Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and as an adviser to him when he was construction minister. More recently, Adri served as Gallant’s chief of staff.
Gallant lauded Adri, saying that during Operation Cast Lead, he made sure the soldiers would “not lack for a single bullet or even one water canteen,” Haaretz reported on Sunday.
This led some to voice concerns that rather than learning from his court defeat against the teachers, Gallant would double down his efforts to reshape the ministry according to his militarily oriented vision.

In response to a query from The Jerusalem Post, the ministry’s spokeswoman said Adri is “a brilliant man, worthy of the position.” While Gallant announced his decision, it is still pending approval by the appropriate authorities, she said.

GALLANT'S DECISION to create an advisory group led by Prof. Dan Arieli, an expert on behavioral economics, could also be seen as sidelining his own ministry.
 
The group is meant to advise on how the ministry can push ahead its September One program, meant to create a flexible structure allowing schools and kindergartens to function in a fluctuating state of pandemic. Other members include Dr. Granit Almog-Bareket, with a 14-year background in education, and Adi Altschuler, a social activist in special education.
 
The decision to select Arieli, a best-selling author and TED speaker, might be seen as an attempt to throw stardust at the face of the many difficulties students, teachers and parents face as Israel becomes, in the words of Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, “a red country” due to its increased number of novel coronavirus-infected patients.
 
Parents, many of whom are facing reduced salaries, unpaid leave and whole careers grinding to a halt, are also grappling with a full summer break without youth-movement activities or even open swimming pools. One case study illustrates how the ministry is failing parents by its decision not to operate the digital summer camps this year, Haaretz reported Monday.
 
The plan for digital camps is one that is already operational and does not require being created from scratch; it already served roughly 5,000 students. The digital summer camps offered high-school students summer lessons on computer programming, animation and robotics free of charge if they commit to them. The reason behind the program cancellation is the ministerial decision not to sponsor digital camps this summer.
 
Haim Bubas, head of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, warned the government on Monday that unless it funds Israel’s youth movements, among them the Hebrew Scouts and Bnei Akiva, schools will not reopen on September 1.
 
Gallant is no longer the minister in charge of youth movements. That responsibility became part of the duties of Higher and Secondary Education Minister Ze’ev Elkin.