In wake of the controversy over left-wing teacher Adam Verta, Education Minister Shai Piron has sent a letter to educators urging them to keep in mind the wisdom of occasional silence.
Teacher Adam Verta faced a disciplinary hearing after a student accused him of pushing extreme-left politics in the classroom, including condemnation of the IDF. The committee that questioned Verta decided he would remain at his post.
Teachers have a right to express their views, Piron wrote. However, he continued, “At the same time, teachers must know that sometimes they need to control their urge to speak.
“Speaking out and silence do not contradict each other,” Piron wrote. “A teacher’s wisdom mandates finding a balance between the various situations.
“There are moments where one must not remain silent, and moments where greatness of spirit means choosing one’s words carefully, or sometimes, choosing silence,” he warned.
Piron listed three issues in particular regarding which teachers should be extremely careful before sharing their views with students.
The first, he said, is religion. Teachers must take particular care not to insult a student, or a community, due to their religious beliefs.
The second is Holocaust denial, he continued.
The third issue Piron listed was “undermining the legitimacy of the IDF as the people’s army, which defends our existence in this land, and the state of Israel’s right to exist.”
“Be cautious when it comes to these topics,” he urged teachers. “You can voice criticism when it comes to them, you can comment on them, but they are at the heart of individual and societal identity.”
Regarding Verta in particular, Piron wrote, “Some of the things Verta said were inappropriate. Others were legitimate, even if they were disturbing to many… They were worthy of noting in a civics class, or when a teacher, as part of providing an in-depth education, presents dilemmas and seeks to introduce the student to a variety of opinions and to create a lively, open dialogue.”
Piron added his own statement of support for the IDF. “The IDF is a moral army. The IDF is an army that is facing difficult challenges, and that does everything it can to preserve the divine sanctity of man. Many of Israel’s best have given of their energy, their spirit and their strength to the IDF,” he declared.