Arab MKs were furious Tuesday after Education Minister Limor Livnat announced that the legacy of assassinated tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi
, who campaigned for the transfer of Arabs out of the Land of Israel
, must be taught in Arab schools.
"Imagine in Germany that they had to teach the Jewish students that it's good to get rid of the Jews," said MK Issam Mahoul, of the Arab-Jewish Hadash party
. "It's insensitive and racist. Gandhi (Ze'evi's nickname) is a man who called for the transfer of Arabs, for the deportation of Arabs. He had a racist program that called for ethnic cleansing and she wants the Arab schools to teach it and give it respect."
Ze'evi was a man who spent his life working for Zionist ideals - love of the land and the language. However, he also created his own twist to the Zionist ideology. He founded the idea of transferring Arabs out of Israel and the territories and pushed for its implementation.
In 2001, while serving as tourism minister, he was assassinated by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
as revenge for the assassination of their leader, Abu Ali Mustafa
, two months before.
In July, a law proposed by MK Aryeh Eldad
of the far-right wing National Union party
was passed to preserve and teach Gandhi's legacy.
The law is not specific about what part of his ideology is to be preserved and if any part should not be.
So MK Muhammad Barakeh of the Hadash party sent the Education Minister Limor Livnat an inquiry asking if Arab schools must teach Gandhi's legacy. On Sunday the answer arrived: yes.
Arab MKs were not surprised by Livnat's decision.
"She has expressed more than once anti-Arab sentiment, actions and policies," said MK Ahmed Tibi, leader of the TAL party. "She said that the education of Arabs in Israel is the responsibility of the deputy minister [who is a Druse.]" But the minister must deal with the education of all the citizens."
Earlier Sunday, Livnat demanded that her director-general, Ronit Tirosh
, make a public statement that she will not be joining Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima party
, after Tirosh had announced that she would. Kadima calls for returning lands Israel conquered in 1967.
"Both actions show the anti-democratic, McCarthyist attitude of this woman," said Mahoul.
One MK said Livnat's decision was a result of her recent political weakness. "She knows that within days, if not hours, she will be kicked out of the Education Ministry forever," said MK Abdulmalik Dahamshe, the head of the United Arab List
"Apparently when a politician sees the ends of his days, he goes crazy. She's now looking for headlines."
All Arab MKs agreed that the decision was an anti-Arab political statement.
"She is trying to express her own radical right-wing views through this decision," said MK Ahmed Tibi of TAL, "that the transfer and hatred of Arabs is legitimate and even appreciated. She is a racist and a failure as Minister of Education."
Education Deputy Minister Majali Wahabe, who Livnat hand-picked for the job, accepted her decision. "Every law that is codified by the Knesset and enters the book of the laws is applicable to all the citizens of Israel. Hence this law is applicable to the Arab schools," Wahabe said in a statement.