One of the odder things that has been noticeable to many Israelis observing the recent tent protests in Tel Aviv and other cities has been the plethora – and sometimes even the prevalence – of far-out radical left revolutionary symbols, such as the hammers and sickles of the old Soviet Union's flag.
Along with that symbol, one that has gotten even more “air time” - and is often seen in the background in live TV broadcasts of the protests – is the image of Che Guevara, the South American Marxist revolutionary and guerilla leader, whose bearded and bereted image graces posters, signs, and T-shirts.
Of course, Israel is a free, democratic country, and no one would argue with the right of Israelis to believe anything they want, says the New Liberal Movement (NLM), an organization dedicated to spreading the principles of classical liberalism in Israel.
But when it comes to imposing those views on students, and in the country's schools, where students may not have enough information to evaluate the ideology of Che Guevara, the organization draws a line – and on Thursday, the NLM filed a complaint against the administrators of Boyer High School in Jerusalem, who either wittingly or unwittingly gave permission, or condoned after the fact, the hanging of a huge Che poster outside the school, “welcoming” students back to school after summer vacation.
Other, smaller Che posters were hung as well, as were notices calling on students to participate in tent protests demanding more affordable housing and a lower cost of living, and urging them to attend a major protest planned for Saturday night.
In a letter to Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, members of the movement wrote that the posters were there to incite students, and that dozens of parents had complained to them about the way the school's campus was “decorated,” adding that as a result of that influence, one enterprising student had already set up a “protest tent” on the campus. The student's demands were not yet clear, school administrators said.
In the letter, the NLM wrote to Sa'ar that “we are very uncomfortable with the fact that the school administration has apparently given its blessing to this form of protest. The far-left groups that champion a murderer of the caliber of Che Guevara have so few supporters that they could never hope to send one of their candidates to the Knesset. It is unthinkable that they would receive representation at a school, which is supposed to prevent incitement, political and otherwise.
“It appears that the school has been 'taken over' by 'forces of the revolution,' that is, the Communists,” the letter said, adding that it expects action to be taken immediately to restore “freedom of thought.”
The NLM's mission, the organization's website says, is to restore “classical liberalism,” which advocates as little government intervention in the basic freedoms of citizens as possible, with its motto “maximum freedom and minimum forced government action.”
Prominent on the site, for example, is a link to an organization called Anochi, which calls itself the site for “students of the philosophy of Ayn Rand,” a sharp critic of government suppression of individual rights.
It does not need a liberal organization, however, to contend that schools are not the place for extremist or political advertising.