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      Freedom-of-Speech Camp Mum on Chief Scientist's Firing

      The firing of Education Ministry's Chief Scientist because of his ideological views has passed without criticism from the "freedom of speech" camp.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 10/7/2010, 3:50 PM / Last Update: 10/7/2010, 3:53 PM

      Channel Ten news

      The dismissal of Dr. Gabi Avital as Chief Scientist in the Education Ministry because of his ideological views has passed fairly quietly. Criticism of his firing has come from the nationalist, right-wing camp, but not from the left-wing circles that generally champion freedom of speech and thought.

      Avital, known for his nationalistic, Jewish-oriented, anti-evolution and anti-green approach, was fired this week by Education Minister Gideon Saar. Avital said he has no intention of protesting the move, as “Saar has every right to fire me.” He protested, however, the calls to have him fired: "Where is the freedom of thought and debate on these important issues?"

      Avital was widely criticized in certain circles in recent months for having said that schoolchildren should be exposed to opinions critical of Darwin's theory of evolution, should be aware of opposition to global warming theories, and the like.


      Minister of Science Dr. Daniel Herskovitz, head of the Jewish Home party, recently came to Avital’s defense when he said that criticism of certain aspects of the theory of evolution was widespread and that there was no reason to fire the kippah (yarmulke)-wearing Chief Scientist.

      Avital was appointed Chief Scientist just ten months ago, and the Education Ministry said the duration since then was a “test period.” Minister Saar met with Avital twice over the past month. Avital told Arutz-7 that he regrets that he would not be able to complete some of the projects he has begun, such as those showing a demographic trend in favor of the Jewish population.

      Dr. Avital recently told a radio interviewer that the nation’s cadre of left-wing writers cause damage to Israel. “Writers are supposed to be part of a country’s spiritual backbone,” Avital said. “They must be those who set the country’s vision and spiritual path. Amazingly, the main leading writers write with estrangement, to the point of automatic solidarity with the country’s enemies. I am referring to A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz – who wrote in Haaretz in favor of the Turkish flotilla ship just one day after the incident happened - David Grossman, and others. What is missing is literature that identifies with Zionism and is guided by love of homeland and the State.”

      Regarding illegal foreign workers and the upcoming deportation of some of their children, Avital said, “Those who say that they should not be deported do not live among them. Let’s see what would they say if their street would become Eritrea. We are not deporting children; we are parting from families whose work permits have expired and who are now returning home. They are not war refugees whom we have to willingly take in.”

      Avital blamed the New Israel Fund and others, “who are funded by Europeans, and simply wish to fan the flames of controversy and foment unrest in Israel, all for the goal of turning Israel into a ‘state of all its citizens’ [as opposed to a Jewish State].”

      Avital has also said that global warming is not a fact, and has in fact been disproven in various studies. “What motivates this ‘green religion’ and its supporters to scare the world into believing that the end is near?” he has asked. “It is reminiscent of the ‘religion of evolution.’”

      He has also said that he sees no reason to recycle materials at three times the price of their original cost.   Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein of Har Nof, Jerusalem, noted on Arutz-7’s Hebrew newsmagazine that no contradiction necessarily exists between Torah and evolution: “I am a student of Rav Kook, who writes that the Torah is not a book of physics or science, and does not provide exact details about how the world and man was created and via which natural laws and principles. Even if it occurred by what is called evolution, G-d created the process, just as He created the Law of Gravity, and there is no contradiction… Some scholars have written that the timeline detailed in Genesis – Day One, Day Two, etc. – refers to time as man understands it, but that in fact, before man was created, these time periods could refer to millions of years…”

      In any event, Rabbi Feuerstein said, “Rabbi Kook said that the deep concept of the theory of evolution is that the world is always advancing and developing, and this corresponds with the Jewish approach that the world is always coming nearer and nearer to perfection.”