Israeli parliament votes to ban state and army critics from schools


Israel’s parliament has passed a law that could see groups critical of the armed forces or the state banned from entering schools and speaking to students. Early on Tuesday, legislators passed the law by 43 votes to 24 in a move that its detractors say will stamp out free speech in the educational system.

As an amendment to the country’s education act, the new law grants extensive powers to Naftali Bennett, the education minister and head of the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party. He can decide to ban groups, the bill states, if they “actively promote legal or international political actions to be taken outside Israel against soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces … or against the state of Israel”.

“Anyone who wanders around the world attacking IDF soldiers, will not enter a school,” Bennett said in a statement. However, critics warn the law is so vague that it could apply to any person or body that criticises Israel to a foreign entity or government – for example, an Israeli rights group that submits an unfavourable report to a UN agency. The legislation has been dubbed the “Breaking the Silence” bill, a reference to an anti-occupation Israeli human rights group run by military veterans that collects and publishes testimony on army abuses.(theguardian)…[+]