A new law that will ban representatives of anti-occupation, army veterans’ group Breaking the Silence from speaking in Israeli schoolsreceived unanimous backing from ministers yesterday.
According to Haaretz newspaper, support for the bill by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation means that the law “has the support of the governing coalition” and “is likely to pass”.
The law, which bars groups that “defame Israeli soldiers” from schools, enjoys “broad support … among coalition and opposition leaders” and is sponsored by YeshAtid chair YairLapid and Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home.
Haaretz states that the “bill would empower the education minister to forbid individuals or organizations from entering schools and conduct any type of activity, if in the opinion of the minister, they undermine the state’s educational goals or are liable to defame Israeli soldiers.”
Bennett is seeking the authority to ban any group whose activities “severely and significantly contravene the goals of state education, or if because of its activities abroad, there is concern that their activity could lead to Israeli soldiers’ prosecution in international courts or foreign countries for actions carried out as part of their [military] duty.”
In addition to banning organisations from schools, the law would amend the State Education Law to include the following among the educational system’s goals: “Educating towards significant service in the Israel Defence Forces, and protecting the status and honour of the IDF in Israeli society.”
Breaking the Silence collects testimonies from soldiers serving in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and highlights instances of human rights abuses by the Israeli army.
The group’s Executive Director Yuli Novak said: “Bennett’s obsession in silencing Breaking the Silence is only increasing the interest on the part of young people in hearing about the occupation from soldiers. The [proposed] law will pass, but it won’t silence us.”