Avi Maoz takes partial control of Israeli education after cabinet approval

The decision, which was part of the coalition agreement between the Likud and Maoz's Noam party, will now be brought before the Knesset.

 MK Avi Maoz attends an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 21, 2021.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
MK Avi Maoz attends an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 21, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Israel's cabinet approved the decision to transfer the Education Ministry unit responsible for external programs to the Prime Minister's Office, where they will be subordinate to Noam leader MK Avi Maoz on Sunday.

The decision, which was part of the coalition agreement between the Likud and Maoz's Noam party, will now be brought before the Knesset, but it does not require the Knesset's approval.

The unit's full name is "The Unit for External Programs and Promoting Partnerships." Its website shows that it currently only has four employees. Due to its small size, the government's decision on Sunday was that the unit's transfer will be coordinated directly between the Prime Minister's Office and the Education Ministry with the approval of the Civil Service Commission, and will not require further government decisions.

The decision last month to put the unit under Maoz created an uproar, as he is anti-LGBTQ+, believes in gender-assigned roles and fights against what he defines as "progressive" ideas such as women serving in combat roles in the IDF.

LGBTQ+ rights organizations, women's rights organizations, parents of school-age children and many other groups and individuals criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for awarding the unit to Maoz. Over 50 local authorities responded by saying that they would not cooperate with Maoz.

  Noam Party leader MK Avi Maoz, December 5, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Noam Party leader MK Avi Maoz, December 5, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Maoz claimed during the coalition negotiations that there were NGOs with hidden progressive agendas who were operating in schools, without transparency by the Education Ministry, and that his goal was to increase transparency. However, the unit he will soon take over said that all of the external programs are listed on its website and that there were none that were hidden from the public.

Education Minister Yoav Kisch said to reporters ahead of Sunday's cabinet meeting that while the aforementioned unit would indeed move to Maoz in the PMO, all of the authorities relating to the Gefen program – which gives principles flexibility in choosing which topics will be taught more than others – would remain under the Education Ministry. This, he said, "put an end to the fake-news campaign."

Yesh Atid MK Yorai Lahav-Herzano, who is gay, wrote on Twitter, "Now it is final: the Likud's ministers led by Netanyahu have given the keys to the education of Israel's students to Avi Maoz, the most homophobic, racist and dangerous politician in the country.

Religious coercion, excluding women and persecuting LGBT people will be carried out in your name. On your watch you gave Maoz governmental tools and hundreds of millions of shekels in order to spread his poisonous worldview. Shame on you."

Yisrael Beytenu MK Sharon Nir, who is a retired IDF Brigadier-General, announced that she would be holding a protest in Modi'in on Tuesday under the slogan," We will not let the darkness win."

"We will not allow women's place in Israeli society to be shaken, we will salute women serving in the IDF and safeguard Israel's Zionist, equal and liberal character!" Nir said.