War on Coexistence: Why Kisch Banned Israeli-Palestinian Bereavement Support Groups

Israel's Education Minister and Likud member, Yoav Kisch. (Image: via YouTube)

The Israeli Education Ministry yesterday banned the grassroots organization, Parents Circle-Families Forum (PCFF), which comprises bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families, from arranging activities at schools.

The decision was based on new ministry rules issued by Education Minister, Yoav Kisch, following pressure from right-wing groups, which state that school program must not disparage the Israel Defense Forces – the Israeli occupation army – and its soldiers.

As a result of these regulations, the group is now barred from hosting program at schools and receiving funding from the ministry.

According to the Times of Israel, the ministry decision stated:

“Any comparison of the grief over fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terror attacks with the grief over those harmed in defensive IDF activities while protecting the State of Israel is unacceptable and does not fit with the values promoted by the Education Ministry. This does serious harm to the memory of fallen IDF soldiers and terror victims.”

The decision comes after a hearing last month, during which representatives from the PCFF made their case. However, they failed to convince the right-wing Israeli officials.

In response, the PCFF published a statement criticizing the officials of “dictatorship”, where the education minister unilaterally determines what students are not allowed to learn.

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“In a dictatorship, the education minister decides what is forbidden [for students] to know,” PCFF said in a statement.

It added:

“The decision by Yoav Kisch to ban PCFF activities at schools is another act in the coup — suppression of democracy and zero acceptance of other voices,” referencing the government’s judicial overhaul legislation.

“Messianic right-wingers that made the decision not only harmed the memory of the bereaved and the right to mourn, but they seek to perpetuate the bloody conflict between the nations,” the group charged.

Labor MK Naama Lazimi slammed the decision as a “political hit with a clear message – civil society organizations are in the crosshairs.”

She tweeted:

“Anyone who does not fit the values of the fascist government will be tried as an enemy and a traitor. Values of peace and tolerance are already out of the bounds of legitimacy for the government. This government is even trying to regiment bereavement.”

Far-right Israeli lawmakers in June threatened to “blow up” and cut funding to a youth village due to its plans to arrange a joint summer camp for Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones to the occupation.

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The event was to be hosted by the PCFF.

The camp took place without interruptions last week, commemorating its tenth summer.


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