Following a lengthy debate, the Knesset plenum on Monday night approved in its second and third readings an amendment to the State Education Law, proposed by MK Shuli Mualem Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) and a group of Knesset members, barring the activity in an educational institution of external elements acting against the IDF, a.k.a. the Breaking the Silence Law.
The bill passed by a vote of 43 to 24.
The new law adds to the goals of Israel’s public education bringing up school children with the ideal of serving either in the IDF or the National Service. The amended law also calls on the Education Minister to set up rules to prevent the appearance in a public school of a person or an outside entity whose activity significantly contradicts the goals of the public school system, specially entities which seek court proceedings in foreign countries against individuals who have served in the IDF.
The explanatory notes accompanying the bill read: “The education system in Israel is not only a system that aspires for the academic achievements and the grades of its students, but also instills a belief in the values encouraged by the law. This bill seeks to confer upon the Education Minister as the head of the system who bears the responsibility for the well-being of Israeli students, to prohibit individuals or organizations that are not part of the education system from conducting activities within an educational institution, when the nature of their activity undermines the goals of the state education system or works to harm IDF soldiers who are part of the consensus in Israeli society.”
MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union), said from the podium: “This law I against Breaking the Silence law and other leftwing organizations. The ethos of Breaking the Silence does not fit my worldview, and yet it does not frighten me, nor does it bother me to hear other positions. What are you afraid of? The nationalism law (Basic Law proposal: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People – DI) that you promote causes damage to Israel in the world, much more so than the damage you say is caused by representatives of Breaking the Silence. You’re cowards!”
MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) called on other people to break the silence, saying, “Anyone who fears different opinions probably has good reasons for that.”
MK Moalem Refaeli replied from the podium: “Anyone who wants to reform the army does not have to libel it abroad.” Turning to the opposition members, she said, “The fact that you were silent now when the Knesset members of the Joint List slandered the IDF will stand against you in the Knesset Book of Chronicles.”