Education Min. denies Avital fired due to Darwinism remarks

Darvasi: Having Avital in high position does harm to Israel because puts us in un-respectable place, has potential to damage children's education.”

classroom 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
classroom 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
The termination of the Education Ministry’s chief scientist was not related to his personal beliefs and recent statements doubting evolution and global warming, the ministry said on Tuesday. Dr. Gaby Avital’s dismissal “did not have anything to do with his personal beliefs, rather, dealt with his suitability to the post of head scientist, which he held for a trial period,” the ministry said.
Avital, a space and aeronautics specialist who was appointed to the post 10 months ago, has made news for a number of statements made in recent months, including ones doubting Darwin’s theory of evolution, and statements in which he called environmentalism “a messianic religion,” in addition to saying there was no evidence for global warming. In an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday, Avital said he will not contest the ministry’s decision to dismiss him, and stood by his previous statements on evolution.
RELATED:Education Ministry's chief scientist firedEducation Ministry summons principal over textbook“As a human being and as the head scientist I am permitted to express my opinions on matters related to science. In regard to Darwin, I spoke about his background in research. I am certain that man was created by God and there are millions around the world who feel the same as I do,” Avital said.
Avital had also stirred controversy for statements he had made against writers A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman and Amos Oz, who he had accused of harboring anti-Israel sympathies.
Hebrew University geneticist, Ariel Darvasi, praised Avital’s dismissal, telling The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that a man who holds such beliefs “is not at all suited to hold such a position.”
“Everyone is permitted to have their opinion, but someone in a position such as this cannot hold positions that go against the most basic beliefs in science,” Darvasi said, adding that “it was tantamount to the Education Ministry giving the position to a man who doesn’t believe that the Earth is round.”
Darvasi said that in the Israeli academic world “there are no people who share Avital’s beliefs and there is no shortage of religious academics who are critical of him because of these beliefs.
“This is not a matter of academic freedom. There aren’t two different scientific ideas on this matter.” Darvasi added that having a man like Avital hold such an important position “does great damage to the State of Israel because it puts us in a very unrespectable place among the advanced countries of the world, and has the potential to damage the education of our children.”