Less than a week before it was scheduled to take place, far-right Education Minister Naftali Bennett cancelled the participation of his ministry in a seminar on workers’ rights organized in conjunction with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). The seminar was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, November 29, towards commemoration of this year’s International Day of Human Rights, December 10.
Bennett reportedly cancelled participation of his ministry in the event after receiving a letter from a group of bereaved families of fallen Israeli soldiers — working in conjunction with the fascist organization Im Tirtzu. In their letter, the representatives of the families called ACRI “one of the most extreme de-legitimization organizations that, in its activities against the State of Israel, also hurts us, the bereaved families, directly.” Following Bennett’s cancellation ACRI decided to hold the event without the participation of the Ministry of Education; though a seat was reserved for a representative of the ministry, it remained empty.
The director general of ACRI, Attorney Sharon Avraham-Weiss, who spoke at the seminar, thanked those who attended, saying that some who had planned to participate decided not to come out of fear of retaliation from the heads of the Education Ministry. In response to Bennett’s cancellation, ACRI issued the following response: “Our professional partnership with the Education Ministry has lasted 40 years under every education minister. ACRI expresses an even deeper concern from the fact that the current education minister views his role as carrying out the dictates of the extremist group Im Tirzu, which cynically exploits the pain of bereaved families. The decision smells of de-legitimization and persecution of civil society organizations.”