Photo Credit: American Colony (Jerusalem)
Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium, Tel Aviv circa 1920.

The Principal of the Herzliya Gymnasium in Tel Aviv, Zeev Degani, announced his resignation Sunday morning in protest of the cancellation of an event at the school where high school graduates intended to announce their refusal to enlist in the IDF.

On Saturday night, the school’s executive committee voted against holding the Youth Against Dictatorship event that was scheduled for Sunday, in which some 200 youth from various schools planned to announce their refusal to enlist.


Gymnasia Herzliya (Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium) was the country’s first Hebrew high school, founded in 1905 in Jaffa, and transported in 1909 to a new building on Herzl Street in the Ahuzat Bayit neighborhood (later to be renamed Tel Aviv). The building was designed by Joseph Barsky, inspired by descriptions of Solomon’s Temple. Today, the school is located on Jabotinsky Street, with a gate reminiscent of the facade of the 1909 building.

On Friday, the Education Ministry’s deputy Director-General Meir Shimoni leaned on the school’s management to “reconsider holding the event within the walls of the educational institution as well as the manner of holding the event so that it complies with the law.” He threatened that “failure to observe the law and the guidelines may lead to various measures, including the denial of recognition and budgeting of the educational institution and the denial of the school’s employment permits.”

The executive committee responded to the pressure saying, essentially, we’re folding but it doesn’t mean we agree with you. They wrote: “The gymnasium will also operate in the future – as it has done throughout its years of activity – to allow its students to be exposed to a variety of opinions. This will also be the case with the ‘judicial reform’ and its consequences.”

They stressed that their decision was made “without there being any acknowledgment of the correctness or justice of the arguments detailed in your letter.”

Youth Against Dictatorship on Saturday called their bluff: “The executive committee of the gymnasium folded before the anti-democratic attack that tries to silence our voice – we teenage boys and girls. We will not stop and hold the event tomorrow – whether inside or outside the school. They will not silence our protest against the dictatorship and the occupation.”

About a month ago, the Education Ministry banned the Israeli-Palestinian Family Forum from appearing in the country’s schools, declaring that “any comparison between the bereavement of the families of IDF casualties and victims of terrorism with the bereavement of casualties of IDF defensive actions is not acceptable, does not match the values promoted by the Education Ministry, and constitutes a serious offense to the memory of the IDF fallen and their families.” Sunday’s intervention marks an increased involvement of the ministry in preventing anti-Zionist events in the country’s high schools.

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