Volunteer Teacher Suspended for Discussing 2005 Gaza Pullout

School rescinds suspension after intervention by Education Ministry.

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A volunteer who teaches at an elementary school was suspended this week after she discussed the 2005 Gaza pullout with children, but was reinstated Thursday after the Education Ministry intervened.

According to the newspaper Maariv, which first reported on the incident, the volunteer at the Yuvalim school in Tzoran near Tel Aviv serves in a project that strives to instill Jewish identity in schoolchildren. She was doing her national civilian service, which many Israelis perform instead of military service.

The volunteer was asked by a kindergarten child why she was wearing an orange shirt; the young woman then gave a short explanation on the evacuation of the Gaza settlements – known as Gush Katif –  in August 2005. She said she was wearing orange because it was the annual commemoration day for the Gush Katif communities.

The director of the national service administration, Sar-Shalom Jerbi, spoke to the volunteer. “She said she didn’t express her political views and didn’t say anything critical of soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces,” Jerbi said. “She claims she said there had once been towns in Gush Katif, and because it was a dangerous place they came to evacuate them.”

The school principal received complaints from parents on the incident and suspended the volunteer. When informed abut the suspension, the head of the Education Ministry’s Central District and the school’s inspector asked the principal to rethink her decision.

On Wednesday the volunteer met with the principal and on Thursday the principal met with members of the school’s parents committee and the parents who complained. It was decided to reinstate the volunteer.

“I asked the girl if she wanted to go back to that school and she said yes,” Jerbi said. “If she hadn’t wanted to return, I wouldn’t have approved another national-service girl for that school. I won’t accept insults to national-service girls. It’s inconceivable that a principal would get rid of a national-service girl for such a thing.”

An anti-disengagement protester being removed from Gush Katif in 2005.Credit: Nir Kafri