Opinion |

Yoav Gallant Does Not Deserve to Be Israel’s Education Minister

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Education Minister Yoav Gallant at a school in Netanya in February.
Education Minister Yoav Gallant at a school in Netanya in February.Credit: Hadas Parush
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The Mexican general Castañetas was a very important man, very great. The Israeli general Yoav Gallant is also a very important man, very great. He also straps on pistoletas when he goes to work at the office, and wears medals across his chest. But as opposed to Gen. Castañetas – the hero of a song by Haim Hefer – the Israeli General Gallant actually took part in wars and battles; it can be said of most of them that it would have been better had they not taken place. They were needless and criminal. The unfortunate Castañetas exploded after eating 20 pheasants and cutlets; the minister of education might explode from his inflated self-importance. Last week he struck again.

The opposition and the media leave Gallant alone. They don’t mock him as they do Miri Regev and Osnat Mark, nor do they revile him as they do Amir Ohana, Miki Zohar and David Amsalem, although the damage he does exceeds theirs. Gallant is an Ashkenazi Jew, a general and “one of us,” so they barely touch him. But the damage he causes is mounting, together with the ridicule raised by his pathetic attempts to be the state’s chief education officer. Now he’s celebrating a shabby victory: the unbelievable High Court of Justice ruling permitting him to temporarily withhold the Israel Prize from Prof. Oded Goldreich over his political opinions. Gallant is now “reexamining” the “sincerity” of Goldreich’s objection to the boycott movement against Israel. Examine how? Is there a sincerity gauge? Will he summon Goldreich to the regime’s thought-crimes investigation branch for interrogation? Today anything is possible.

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The ceremony is over. With his own hands, Gallant destroyed one of the last untouched areas in Israel’s disintegrating reality – the Israel Prize. Its laureates are not laureates unless they immediately forgo the prize in solidarity with their repudiated colleague. The prize’s judges will no longer be judges, since from now on they will take care not to choose a candidate who does not have the regime’s approval. One can no longer be a respected scientist in Israel without the regime’s support. Whom shall we thank? The education minister, who is also behind the government’s resounding failure in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

His appointment was a scandal, Benjamin Netanyahu’s worst. The commander of a military campaign as criminal as Operation Cast Lead cannot be an education minister. With all the needless death and destruction that it wreaked, its commanders belong in The Hague, not in the Education Ministry. Gallant likes wars in the Gaza Strip, he has always provoked and pushed for them. In winter 2017 he “marked” the coming spring as the time for another assault on the battered Strip. Fortunately, no one listened to him. He also likes the term “the head of a snake.” Israel’s schoolchildren would be better off not hearing such language. When Yahya Sinwar was elected head of Hamas in Gaza, Gallant wrote on Facebook, alongside a photo of the man, whose ouster Israel feared a few weeks earlier: “This is what the head of the snake looks like. It’s clear what must be the end of a snake that rears its head.” That’s how the head of an underworld organization talks, and now he’s the education minister. A few months later he had a new “head of a snake” to take out: “The time has come to take out [Syrian President Bashar Assad], it’s as simple as that,” he wrote. “When we finish with him, we’ll get to the head of the snake, which is in Tehran,” he added. First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin. O, the Israeli boastfulness and violence.

“Anyone who does not hold Israel and its laws dear is not deserving of the Israel Prize,” declared the minister who specializes in following the laws of the state in his tastefully designed home, and who is in possession of a gauge to determine who holds the state more dear – a person who preaches murder and destruction, or someone who opposes these things. If I were Goldreich, I would thank Gallant for the honor he bestowed on me and I would tell him: On account of people like you, I have finally been persuaded that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel is just. Change will not come from within Israeli society, but rather only after Israel is punished by the international community and pays the price. The arrogance of the education minister is absolute proof of this.

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