Israeli Minister Protests School for Migrants at Expense of Soviet Immigrants

Defense chief Avigdor Lieberman, who was born in the Soviet Union, complains about the plans for the Tel Aviv high school.

The Shevah Mofet high school in Tel Aviv.
Ofer Vaknin

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has protested plans to close a Tel Aviv high school that serves immigrants mainly from the former Soviet Union and replace it with one that serves African asylum seekers.

“I understand there’s a plan to close the Shevah Mofet school, which is the flagship of immigrant absorption, and open a school for refugees’ children in its place,” he said at a cabinet meeting Tuesday, addressing Education Minister Naftali Bennett. “This represents the wrong priorities, and I very much hope you’ll intervene.”

Two other ministers, Miri Regev and Ofer Akunis from Likud, interrupted Lieberman to protest his word choice and express an even harder line on the subject. They said he should have said “infiltrators,” not “refugees.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman visits new IDF recruits, holding a photo of himself on the day he was drafted in the IDF.
Moti Milrod

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that the cabinet would discuss the issue at a future meeting.

Lieberman was born to a Russian-speaking family in Moldova, then a Soviet republic, and immigrated to Israel when he was around 20. His Yisrael Beiteinu party has strong support among immigrants from the Soviet Union.