Cabinet okays far-right MK Maoz as overseer of external programming at schools

In response to openly homophobic politician’s appointment, some 160 academics join registry of lecturers willing to come to schools to speak free of charge

Deputy Minister Avi Maoz seen during a vote in the assembly hall of the Knesset, on December 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Deputy Minister Avi Maoz seen during a vote in the assembly hall of the Knesset, on December 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The cabinet on Sunday approved handing authority over external programming in the education system to MK Avi Maoz of the homophobic Noam faction.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that approval was given to the “transfer of areas of operation and powers from the Education Ministry and the Social Equality Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office in accordance with the coalition agreements,” where they will be run by Maoz.

The transfer, agreed upon in Maoz’s coalition deal with Likud, makes him the overseer of a key component of students’ curriculum. It has raised an outpouring of criticism and concern, with numerous local municipalities saying they will not allow the introduction of anti-LGBTQ or otherwise illiberal content for their schools.

In response to Maoz’s appointment, Haaretz reported that some 160 staff members of various academic institutions had registered with a new database of volunteer lecturers who are willing to appear before schools free of charge, formed in response to the far-right MK’s new powers over which programs are approved for purchase.

The report said 40 school principals had already contacted academics from the list.

Maoz, whose one-man Noam faction was elected as part of an alliance with the far-right Religious Zionism party, campaigned on a platform of intolerance for gays and non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, with billboards describing homosexuality and Reform Judaism as abnormalities. He is considered among the most extreme lawmakers in the government.

Maoz has promised to work to roll back rights for the LGBTQ community and implement rules banning public transportation on Saturday, among other conservative agenda items.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted he would not allow harm to come to LGBTQ rights in Israel.

The National Parents Association has said that “there is no place for illiberal positions in the general education system” and vowed to fight any attempt to introduce such content.

As a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Maoz is also set to be given a new “Jewish identity” office and power over immigration policies.

In December, he sparked outrage by comparing the outgoing government to the Hellenizing Jews cast as the villains of the Hanukkah story, delivering a speech to the Knesset against the “darkness” of progressive values.

“The spirit that the Greeks and the Hellenists tried to instill in the Jewish people is the real darkness,” Maoz said, after singing several lines from the popular Hanukkah song, “We Came to Expel the Darkness.”

“Anyone who tries to harm real Judaism is the darkness,” he said. “Anyone who tries to create a new so-called liberal religion is the darkness. Anyone who — with intentional concealment and obfuscation — tries to brainwash the children of Israel with their agendas, without the knowledge of the parents, is the darkness.”

Maoz also spoke out against the state of schooling, claiming it was “influenced by foreign countries, by foreign funds and organizations and by foreign agendas.”

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