Thursday, September 19, 2019

Knesset passes ‘Breaking the Silence’ Law


By Maria Correia - July 24, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [school] [Israeli law] [Breaking the Silence]

Last week the Knesset approved the so-called 'Breaking the Silence’ law authorising the Minister of Education to prohibit 'external elements acting against the goals of education and against the Israel Defence Forces’ (IDF). 

In essence, the law prevents any educational organisations or groups that are against the IDF or Israeli state education from entering schools or meeting students in Israel.
 
The bill was put forward by Naftail Bennet, the Minister of Education himself, and Shuli Mualem-Refaeli who is from the Jewish home party.
 
The Knesset vote came to a 43-24 in favour of the bill.
 
The law also extends to people who are abroad that support any institution that delegitimizes Israel, due to a last-minute reservation to the law presented by MK Amir Ohnana from the Likud Party.
 
Mualem-Refaeli said, once the law was approved: “The reality in which Breaking the Silence activists and similar organizations enter schools in order to incite against IDF soldiers and officers and slander the state ended today.”
 
He added: “The education system is intended to impart values of love for man and the state, and anyone who acts against these founding values, will no longer be entitled to enter the educational institutions in Israel.”
 
The chairman of the Im Tirtzu Zionist Organization Matan Peleg welcomed the passing of the law: “The Knesset has made a very necessary reform today. […] It needs to continue to preserve the Jewish and democratic identity of the State of Israel, nothing more."
 
Liran Barcuh, the chairman of the IDF disabled veteran’s forum, said. “It is inconceivable that anti-Israeli organizations that provoke unrest will enter and corrupt our best youth with lies.”
 
The law additionally calls for national service to be included in the national education system in Israel.
 
The legislation has been met with condemnation both within Israel and abroad. Dov Khenin, a KM from the Joint List party called the law “dangerous and problematic” and emphasized that the “education system is not the property of a minister.”
 
Additionally, the Parents Circle, a group of Palestinian and Israeli families that work together for a resolution in the region, condemned the bill.
 
In a statement, the group said: "Valuable education is an education that exposes kids to a wide range of opinions and positions, encouraging debate rather than dictating views.”
 
“This law does the exact opposite by turning the education minister into a censor […] We hope the law won't be turned into a political instrument to silence organizations and opinions which are part of public discourse and should therefore be part of the conversation in schools," the statement continued.
 
The nickname for the law comes from the 'Breaking the Silence’ organization, which is a non-profit of ex-IDF soldiers that have chosen to speak about their experiences in the military.
 
On their website, it is stated that the organisation aims to expose the reality of everyday life in the occupied territories and to bring an end to the occupation itself.
 
After the bill passed, Breaking the Silence declared in a statement the legislation will not apply to their group as they do not promote indictment towards the IDF in foreign courts.
 
A spokesperson for the organisation called the law alternatively the “Bennett’s Occupation Silencing law”.
 

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