Israeli Minister Axes Workshop With Biggest Civil Rights Group Over Claim It 'Defends Terrorists'

Education Minister Naftali Bennett has canceled the workers' rights event after complaints by parents who have lost children to terror attacks

Yarden Zur
Yarden Zur
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Education Minister Naftali Bennett at a cabinet meeting, November 2017.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett at a cabinet meeting, November 2017.Credit: Emil Salman
Yarden Zur
Yarden Zur

Education Minister Naftali Bennett has canceled a joint workshop with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel after parents who have lost children to terror attacks called ACRI an extremist group “that defends terrorists.” ACRI is the biggest civil rights group in Israel.

The workshop, which was earmarked for teachers who would discuss workers’ rights, was to take place Wednesday in the run-up to International Human Rights Day on December 10. Officials of ACRI, which has been working with the Education Ministry for 40 years, were told of the cancellation by a press release from the right-wing group Im Tirtzu.

In addition to canceling the conference, Bennett instructed his ministry’s director general, Shmuel Abuav, to examine whether to continue cooperating with ACRI.

In a letter to Bennett sent Tuesday by bereaved parents from the Choosing Life forum, the parents wrote: “Only last year the association was involved in representing terrorist Alaa Zayoud, an Israeli citizen from Umm al-Fahm who was convicted of a ramming and stabbing attack at the Gan Shmuel junction in October 2015 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.”

The parents then named five other people that ACRI was allegedly helping represent and added: “Cooperation with an organization that defends terrorists in such a [workshop] is obtuseness at best and taking one side at worst . It’s inconceivable that the Education Ministry would give any backing to such an organization.”

ACRI said it was trying to get the facts from the Education Ministry. “If needed we will take the necessary steps. The professional cooperation between the association and the Education Ministry has continued for 40 years, under all education ministers,” the group said.

“The association is even more deeply concerned about the fact that the current education minister sees his role effectively as an agent of the radical Im Tirtzu movement, which is cynically using the pain of bereaved parents. The decision smacks of delegitimization and the persecution of civil society organizations.”

ACRI said it did not represent terrorists during their criminal proceedings. “The proceedings mentioned are petitions that involved prisoners’ rights and matters of rescinding citizenship and residency,” it said, adding that it once also defended the right of Yigal Amir, who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, to marry.

Bennett, via his office, said that after he received information “about an association that consistently works to defend terrorists who murdered Israelis, I canceled an activity that the Education Ministry was to hold with this group. In addition, I’ve instructed the ministry director general to conduct a thorough examination of the issue. The Education Ministry will not cooperate with organizations that harm IDF soldiers or defend our enemies.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott