Sophie Hotovely
Sophie Hotovely Screenshot, Channel 20

Parents of pupils in Ashkelon’s School of the Arts are threatening to boycott the start of the school year because of the appointment of a radical leftist principal.

Avital Benshalom was approved as the principal of the school, despite opposition from parents and Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni over reports that she signed a petition calling on soldiers not to serve in Judea and Samaria in 2002.

Members of the parents’ organization threatened to petition the High Court of Justice on the matter. “Until she retracts her words, she is unworthy to head a school in our city,” Shimoni said Sunday.

In a letter to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the parents’ organization said its members would keep their children out of the school indefinitely if Benshalom's appointment is not cancelled.

Sophie Hotovely, the Chairwoman of the Municipal Parents’ Forum, said in a Channel 20 TV interview that the issue “is not one of left or right [political views],” and that the group includes centrists and leftists, as well as nationalists.

"We cannot agree to have a principal, who is an educational figure, call to disobey the laws of the state,” she explained. “How will she be able to stand in front of a classroom and educate the pupils to obey the law and the rules of the school, when she herself has signed a petition to do the opposite?”

The year 2002 was the peak year in the so-called “second Intifada” terror onslaught, in which over 1,100 Israelis were murdered in the course of five years, and 8,000 were injured. That year alone saw 452 Israelis murdered, most of them civilians.