Time for a Teacher Revolt

We don't have to hide forbidden books under the desk, we can offer them to the students. Let them read and judge for themselves.

We're being conned: In order to make the dismissal of Adar Cohen, the inspector of civic education in the Education Ministry, appear to be a purely professional matter, ministry Director General Dalit Stauber was sent to wield the knife. So that the minister could say, "Our hands have not shed this blood." That is the way of slayers, to send their "soldiers" to do the deed and keep their own hands clean. In the event of an investigation, they have an alibi.

Cohen had the honor of being fired by the director general of the ministry. I was once sacked from my teaching job in Sderot by a lower-ranking official. I phoned the district administrator and asked her if she wasn't ashamed. But in fact it is easier to be ashamed at home than to face a cabinet ministry who issues orders and expects results, not excuses. My dismissal became complicated and was postponed - it is very difficult to shake off the curse of volunteers. Directors general don't fire off employees without a push from above - Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar pushed out Cohen, former Education Minister Limor Livnat pushed me out.

Sa'ar, who has never taught civics, taught us another lesson this week as a super-teacher: Anyone who doesn't dance to his tune is immediately kicked out of the dance troupe. After burning books, he is now burning people: You don't always need fire in order to burn, sometimes wind is sufficient.

Many books contain errors, and they should be corrected, not shelved. Even inspectors can make mistakes, and they should be called in for a talk, not fired. But the Education Ministry is readying its brooms to sweep out everyone but the Staubers.

One thousand teachers came out to avenge the insult of firing the head of charge of civic studies. The insult was not personal, it was more of an injury to education. May you be blessed, Israeli teachers, your students are proud of you for putting your money where your mouth is. If only the teachers unions would join your protest: They can take a break from worrying about the material awards to fight for the soul of teaching.

One thousand teachers cannot prevail alone. "Only a thousand," says Sa'ar, like a bean-counter in his office, taking comfort in the credit side of the balance sheet: The Im Tirtzu movement and other ultranationalists and their representatives in the Likud Central Committee are rallying to his side. The country's teachers aren't his natural supporters anyway. Do education ministers like educators or even respect their opinions?

And so the time has come for a teachers revolt. When the government is bad we must encourage good citizenship. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself: We don't have to hide forbidden books under the desk, we can offer them to the students. Let them read and judge for themselves. We don't have to bring them to Hebron, like babies captured by settlers. They don't have to celebrate at City of David, courtesy of the Elad organization, to reinforce their standing as good Jews. They don't have to visit the settlement of Ariel, specifically, in order to learn the benefits of higher education. Sa'ar is a man with a single truth, and such truth is a lie.

It is not only teachers who should join the revolt against efforts to shutter the marketplace of ideas and viewpoints and put up in its place one big stall sponsored by vested interests. Although Chief of Staff Benny Gantz is a soldier, every soldier is first of all a citizen. As chief of staff he is subordinate to the authority of the elected leadership, of course, and when issued an order he obeys. But there is another option, that of resigning in advance not in order to cover his own ass but rather as a way of putting forth his own assessment of the situation. There's an idea! Let's see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak go into an Iranian adventure bare-assed.

One chief of staff can be replaced. But there is no way to replace tens of thousands of teachers. And if parents join in, the defeat of the border patrol is guaranteed. Because freedom of education has no government, and no political commissar will determine its borders.