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Israel: municipalities protest against education ministry role for far-right MK

Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the Otzma Yehudit Party and right-wing member of Knesset (Israel’s Parliament), visits the Mahane Yehuda Market as part of the election campaign before the elections to be held on the 1st of November in Jerusalem on October 28, 2022. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]
Itamar Ben-Gvir in Jerusalem on October 28, 2022 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

The heads of more than 50 municipalities in Israel have protested against a role belonging to the Ministry of Education being handed to a far-right Knesset Member and his party. According to the Jerusalem Post, the "rebellious" municipalities will self-fund the plans that will be affected by handing the external programme unit to Avi Maoz MK of the far-right Noam Party.

Educational authorities in Israel, parents and gay students in particular fear that anti-discrimination measures will be affected negatively by the shift, boosting prejudice against the LGBTQ community in Israel by giving such power to Maoz. The Noam chairman has often expressed extreme positions regarding LGBTQ and women's rights, and said recently that the advisory unit working for the chief of staff regarding the status of women in the Israeli army should be abolished.

"This is not a minor event," said the head of the education administration in Tel Aviv municipality, Shirley Rimon Bracha. "I suppose we all fear unilateral and extreme political intervention in the content that enters schools."

The 14th Forum for women who head local authorities, sent a letter to incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "We, the members of the 14th Forum of Heads of Local Authorities in Israel, turn to you with great concern following the decision to remove the unit for external programmes from the Education Ministry and transfer it to the Noam Party," they wrote. "In fact, the decision to remove from the Education Ministry a division entrusted with the education of Israeli children and transfer it within a political agreement creates great discomfort, when the education of our children is at stake."

The education system must remain free of political interests and give expression to the variety of opinions and voices that exist in Israeli society, the signatories insisted. "It cannot be divided like a puzzle for the 'need [for] a coalition agreement' of one kind or another."

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