TV report claims Sara Netanyahu tied to effort

Education minister seen as seeking to oust Yad Vashem head Dani Dayan

Yoav Kisch tells Holocaust museum director he found ‘irregularities’ in museum’s management; Dayan dismisses claim as ‘false,’ threatens to take matter to attorney general

Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan at a book launch event at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, on January 19, 2023.  (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan at a book launch event at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, on January 19, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Education Minister Yoav Kisch is looking to oust Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum director Dani Dayan and replace him with a political ally, Channel 12 reported Wednesday.

The report said Kish is claiming that there are irregularities in the way the national institute is being run.

According to the report, Kisch has been looking to remove Dayan for several months and finally sent him a letter accusing him of mismanagement at the Holocaust museum. Kisch confirmed the report on the letter to the network.

The network also tied Kisch’s move to the Holocaust museum hosting a singer on April’s Holocaust Remembrance Day who has spoken out against the government’s policies.

Dayan refuted Kisch’s allegations and threatened to take the matter to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara.

Dayan further said in a statement to Channel 12 that “Kisch’s claims are partly unfounded, partly delusional and partly simply false.”

According to the network, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kisch hope to replace Dayan with Keren Barak, a former MK for their Likud party.

Dayan, a former head of the Yesha council for West Bank settlers and former Israeli consul-general to New York, previously ran for the Knesset with Gideon Sa’ar’s opposition New Hope party, but failed to win a seat. He was appointed as head of Yad Vashem in 2021 by the previous government under then-prime minister Naftali Bennett.

Education Minister Yoav Kisch in the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on March 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In his letter to Dayan, Kisch raised concerns over three board members, each of whom were appointed by the previous government: former MK Collette Avital, former MK and former education minister Rabbi Shai Piron, and former MK Shuli Moalem.

Kisch claimed that their appointments were never reviewed by the appropriate selection committee and therefore were illegitimate.

Their presence at board meetings, he wrote, “is a serious failure on your part as chairman of Yad Vashem, calling into question the legality of all the decisions made at management meetings since you were appointed to your position.”

Dayan wrote back that meetings were held according to regulations and that since the board members in question had not been ousted, there was no reason to prevent them from attending.

Yad Vashem security guard stands at the empty Hall of Names in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem on April 19, 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Dayan also sneered at Kisch’s plan to thoroughly review the situation in a visit to Yad Vashem next Wednesday, while his office only scheduled half an hour for the trip. Such a review “requires at least three hours,” Dayan wrote.

“In conclusion…your concerns about ‘deficiencies,’ heaven forbid, or ‘improper administration,’ were based on inaccurate information that I am now happy to clarify and refute through this letter. If you still have the slightest concern of improper administration, I would be happy to bring the matter before the attorney general so that she may decide on the issue.”

Channel 12 on Thursday evening alleged Kisch’s effort was connected to a gripe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife has with Dayan.

The unsourced report said Sara Netanyahu was angered that Dayan invited singer Keren Peles to perform at the official ceremony in April marking Holocaust Remembrance Day. Netanyahu reportedly was upset with Peles for her outspoken support for demonstrations against the government and its judicial overhaul plan.

The network noted that Dayan had signed a contract with Peles months before she voiced her opinions on the matter, but that things had nonetheless been frosty between him and the Prime Minister’s Office ever since, leading to the push for his removal.

The premier’s office said the report was false.

An unnamed source close to Dayan told Hebrew media Thursday that Kisch was making a “clumsy” attempt to oust Dayan and replace him with a political appointee.

The source claimed that “because of Dayan’s integrity [Kisch] did not find any fault and latched onto several technical matters” — principally the presence of board members Avital, Piron, and Moalem, the source said.

“It is unfortunate that political appetite is attempting to eat away at this hallowed institution,” the source said.

MK Gideon Sa’ar attends a faction meeting of the National Unity Party at the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Sa’ar posted to X, formerly Twitter, Wednesday that the move to push out Dayan was “illegal, replete with illegitimate interests and above all harms this important and sacred national institution.”

He urged against dragging Yad Vashem into what he called “Netanyahu’s vendetta machine.”

Kisch recently had to backtrack on an attempt to install a political appointee as head of the Israel National Library after a massive outcry that said the move would destroy the independence of the national institution.

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