Knesset Law Prevents Breaking the Silence From Entering Schools

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (The Israel Bible™)

The Knesset ratified the so-called “Breaking the Silence Law” overnight between Monday and Tuesday, giving Education Minister Naftali Bennett the authority to prevent organizations that “act against the IDF” from addressing school groups or entering state-funded schools. The law also instructs state schools to encourage students to enlist in “meaningful” IDF or civilian national service including combat, cyber, combat-support or search-and-rescue units, amongst others. 

Education Minister Bennett praised the vote, saying it is necessary to shield Israeli students from ideas that challenge Israel’s legitimacy. 

“A reality in which organizations that undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel and spread lies about IDF troops will (ultimately) seep down into (the minds of) Israeli students – that ends today. Breaking the Silence long ago crossed the line of legitimate debate when they decided to defame the State of Israel on the international stage. As long as they operate abroad against the State of Israel and the IDF, I will not allow their activities inside the education system,” Bennett said.

“Feel free to operate in the privacy of your own homes. But the education system, which is responsible for crafting future generations, will not give expression to voices like these,” he added. 

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli added “today we put an end to a situation in which Breaking the Silence activists, and others like them, can come into our schools in order to incite against IDF soldiers and officers. The school system is supposed to transmit the values of loving others and the country, and of performing meaningful (military or civilian) national service. Anyone who acts against these basic values will no longer be allowed into Israeli schools. 

“Even more, this law is a public stamp of immorality for Breaking the Silence and its activists,” said Moalem-Refaeli.

Predictably, Breaking the Silence was quick to respond, blasting the law as the latest installation in a series of illiberal laws promoted by the current government.

“After trying to enforce religious practice in the public sphere, now we’ve got the silencing (of opposing voices): Education Minister Naftali Bennett is so afraid of Breaking the Silence that he forced through this ‘law to silence the occupation,’” adding that Bennett wants to set up “illegal settlements” in Israeli classrooms in order to get his message across. 

“[Bennett expressed that message in the media]: It is justified to shoot eight-year-old Palestinian children, but settlers must not be removed from their homes… This attempt to shut Breaking the Silence up will not work. It will not hide the occupation, but it does prove just how shaky Bennett and co. are about their own ideology. The time has come Bennett and co. to internalize that as long as there is an occupation there will also be soldiers to break their silence and will publicize what we have been doing in the territories for the past 51 years. 

“Want to shut us up? End the occupation,” the group said in a statement. 

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