Far-right Maoz seeks to end Diaspora donations to pluralistic school education – The Times of Israel
JTA — In 2019, the Noam party drafted an internal report about an alleged plot by foreign forces to take control of the country’s schools in order to teach pluralistic values. At the time the party’s far-right leader, Avi Maoz, was a fringe politician with no authority to carry out the “cleansing” of which he dreamed.
Among the forces allegedly seeking to corrupt Israeli children, Maoz’s report named the European Union and the liberal New Israel Fund, both of which are longtime nemeses of the Israeli right.
But the plot to deny children what Noam considers a proper Jewish education doesn’t stop with the EU and NIF, according to the report. It also blamed many of the mainstream institutions of British and American Jewry, including the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College, the Shalom Hartman Institute think tank, and US donors to Israeli civil society organizations such as the Slifka and Mandel foundations.
“We must protect our people and our state from the infiltration of the alien bodies that arrive from foreign countries, foreign bodies, foreign foundations,” Maoz once said, according to the Haaretz newspaper. “I would be very happy to have sufficient power to be appointed minister of education, to cleanse the entire education system of all foreign influences, and to add Judaism, tradition, heritage, and Zionism to the education system.”
Maoz hasn’t been appointed minister of education, but his dream of banishing these groups came a little closer to reality in December when Benjamin Netanyahu cut a deal with Maoz to form his government. In negotiations, Maoz had secured an appointment as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office under Netanyahu with control over extracurricular content in schools through a new department to be called the Jewish National Identity Authority. A few weeks later, Netanyahu’s cabinet took a critical step toward putting Maoz in charge.
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Amid headlines about Maoz’s ascendance, someone leaked to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth the Noam party’s 2019 education memo along with other internal reports focused on perceived enemies in the military and Justice Ministry, and on LGBTQ individuals in general.
Illustrative: Students arrive at a school in Modiin, central Israel, on January 30, 2022. (Flash90)
While the press referred to the reports as “blacklists,” the backlash to them has become subsumed in a general outcry over the new far-right government, including the anti-gay politics popular among many new members and the plan to strip the judicial branch of some of its powers.
Yet it’s in the area of education that the Noam party has the clearest path forward to accomplishing a specific political goal. And success for Noam could lead to a new type of rift between Israel and American Jews. The organizations he attacks are more than charities for schoolchildren; through their billions of dollars in donations, the institutions of American Jewry made themselves into partners in the very founding and development …….