Ashkelon Parents Threaten to Keep Kids Out of School Over New Principal’s Politics

Avital Benshalom, the principle of Ashkelon’s School of the Arts, allegedly called on soldiers not to serve in the territories in a 2002 letter.

Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri
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Itamar Shimoni, mayor of the coastal city of Ashkelon, visits a kindergarten in the city. Nov. 20, 2014.
Itamar Shimoni, mayor of the coastal city of Ashkelon, visits a kindergarten in the city. Nov. 20, 2014. Credit: AP
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

Avital Benshalom was approved as the principal of Ashkelon’s School of the Arts, despite opposition from parents and Mayor Itamar Shimoni over the fact that in 2002 she signed a petition calling on soldiers not to serve in the territories.

Members of a parents’ organization have threatened to keep their children home from Monday, the first day of the new school year, and to petition the High Court of Justice on the matter.

“Until she retracts her words, she is unworthy to head a school in our city,” Shimoni said Sunday.

In a letter to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the parents’ association said its members would keep their children out of the school indefinitely if Benshalom became principal.

The letter expressed the “vehement opposition” by parents of students at the school to the hiring of a principal who signed a petition calling on Israel Defense Forces soldiers to violate the law,” the letter said.

Sophie Hotovely, the chairwoman of the municipal parents’ forum, who has a daughter going into the fourth grade at the school, told Haaretz that the parents are weighing a High Court petition.

“We will continue the struggle and on the first day we will strike the entire school, from first through 12th grades,” Hotovely said.

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