Democratic Camp chief: Appointment of education minister borders on illegitimate
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Democratic Camp chief: Appointment of education minister borders on illegitimate

Nitzan Horowitz says Rafi Peretz encourages anti-secularism and is ‘unworthy’ of his cabinet post

Democratic Camp leader Nitzan Horowitz, at a press conference in Tel Aviv, August 12, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Democratic Camp leader Nitzan Horowitz, at a press conference in Tel Aviv, August 12, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Democratic Camp party leader Nitzan Horowitz said Thursday that Education Minister Rafi Peretz is not worthy of office and that his installation by the current caretaker government was illegitimate because it was not empowered to appoint new ministers.

Horowitz’s remarks came a day after Channel 13 broadcast controversial excerpts from lectures at a premilitary academy that Peretz founded, which, it said, encouraged a fear of secularism, called for converting the secular to a religious lifestyle, and advised students to avoid military service in order not to be exposed to secular culture.

“First of all, he is not a legitimate minister,” Horowitz told Kan public radio. “He was appointed in a double caretaker government. In such a situation, a prime minister cannot appoint new ministers, so this is an appointment that borders on illegitimacy.”

Horowitz was referring to the current situation in which, after April’s elections failed to produce a coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved parliament for a second time and called fresh elections.

Peretz responded to Horowitz and the television report about the Otzem Pre-Military Torah Academy, declaring that State of Israel founding father and first prime minister David Ben Gurion would be proud that he is serving as education minister. In one of the videos aired by Channel 13, a teacher at the academy criticized the secular Ben Gurion and compared him to an ancient Greek king who tried to stamp out Judaism in the Holy Land.

Education minister Rafi Peretz visits a kindergarten in Givat Shmuel, August 29, 2019. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

“I teach, and taught, Ben Gurion’s approach,” Peretz said in response, during a tour of religious kindergartens in Givat Shmuel. “If Ben Gurion were here today he would be very proud that there is an education minister from religious Zionism who is teaching his approach.

“Our academy teaches love of Israel,” Peretz said and vowed to introduce the academy’s approach to the broader education system. “I despise people who try to put a spanner in the works for cynical, political needs — they won’t succeed.”

“We are under a vicious attack over our values,” Peretz continued, “a well-timed campaign against Judaism and heritage.”

Referring to the television report that claimed the academy encourages students to avoid the army, he said the excerpts were carefully extracted from lectures “and taken out of context and used against us.”

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