Zionist youth movement says being forced out of Israeli town on ´ideological´ grounds (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Talila Nesher 06/04/12)
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The Kfar Tavor municipality in the Lower Galilee has ordered the
town´s only youth movement to cease all activities, following advice
from the directors of the local community center. For 20 years the
Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed movement was Kfar Tavor´s only youth group.
However, officials of the community center, which is responsible for
the town´s informal education programs, said it was "dissatisfied"
with the group´s performance.
The youth group, whose name means "working and studying youth,"
claims the decision was made because community center officials were
rebuffed in their efforts to influence the movement´s programming.
The closure will affect 150 children.
A letter the community center sent to local residents said the
decision had been made by the center´s Youth Committee, which felt
the group "wasn´t meeting expectations." But a list of demands the
community center directors had prepared before the decision was made
shows evidence of a struggle the youth movement says was being waged
against the movement on ideological grounds.
For example, the document states that the movement´s activities must
not have "any content that leads to taking any position whatsoever."
Another clause states that "the activities cannot have any political
leanings." The document then states, "This applies equally to
activities about [Yitzhak] Rabin as to activities about Gandhi [the
late right-wing minister Rehavam Ze´evi], and all topics and content
must be approved by the [Youth] Committee, which will also determine
how it will be delivered to the members."
The community center also demanded the right to choose the movement´s
local coordinator, and insisted that the movement´s educational
programming be set together with a local steering committee in
accordance with the needs of the town.
The center, for example, made clear that the movement should not
encourage participating 12th graders to do a year of national service
before enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces.
Ro´i Yesod, the general secretary of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed,
said, "We are witnessing an effort to undermine a youth movement, to
silence it, to prevent it from educating toward critical thinking and
to present ideas and positions." He added that it was intolerable and
dangerous to try to silence a "Zionist, pioneering and recognized
youth movement, whose graduates have a lot of shares in the building
of this country."
In a recorded conversation with the director of the community
center´s Youth Division, Oded Shehori, the director is heard
threatening youth movement members doing national service who had
come to recruit new members in the local school. "You are
trespassing, you came [uninvited]. You´re young guys, before the
army ... don´t get mixed up in crime before you go into the army," he
said. "Within the village, areas on which I pay taxes, you may not
enter. Period. Not within the municipal area of the village."
While the youth movement´s activity is funded by the Education
Ministry, the ministry noted that Kfar Tavor is not a signatory to
the Youth Movement Convention, which codifies the responsibility
local authorities have to youth movements. Consequently, the ministry
has no authority to intervene.
Eli Larom, chairman of the community center´s board, said, "We were
chosen to represent the public, and the community can decide for
itself what it wants. The movement got an opportunity, but it never
took off; there weren´t enough members and the activities were not of
While backing the community center´s decision, Kfar Tavor Mayor Yossi
Dola said that after hearing complaints from youth movement
officials, he would be meeting them again. "Out of respect for the
movement," he said, "I told them I have no problem hearing them
again. They are supposed to come to a meeting in mid-June." (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 06/04/12)
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