Knesset Roundup | February 4

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Statements by Teachers in the Classroom on Controversial or Topical Issues

Political dialogue within the classroom – a principled discussion following the political expression of a high-school civics teacher

Education, Culture & Sport Committee

Wednesday, 22/01/2014 | Committee Discussion

 

This discussion was added to the education committee’s agenda owing to the scandal surrounding the disciplinary actions taken against a high-school civics teacher in Tivon.
 
ACRI’s Position: Teachers that engage in topical discussions in their classes, enabling the expression of a broad variety of opinions and perspectives, are performing their role as educators admirably, and deserve the support of the Ministry of Education. Educating towards values requires teachers to engage in current events and controversial subjects, this is especially the case seeing as there is no issue in Israel that is not disputed on political, social or ideological grounds. Avoiding dealing with values or current events is in itself a value-based decision – the consequence of which is the acceptance of hegemonic social values.
 
It is a common criticism that the role of teachers is being reduced to that of merely transferring materials in preparation for exams, and that the value of education today is assessed only via grades and scores, all the whilst ignoring the most important aspect – education towards values. It is essential that teachers feel that they can teach in a safe environment where they can raise substantive questions with their students. If not, then they will continue to transmit only examination-based materials, and the school system will forego the vision it once had of being an influential factor in our society.

Raising the Threshold for Knesset Elections

 

Amendment to Basic Law: Government
Amendment to Knesset Elections Law

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee

Monday, 03/02/2014 | Preparation for a Second & Third Reading

 

These bills, known as the ‘governance laws’, seek to alter various aspects of the procedures for national elections and the functioning of the government and the Knesset. The Committee has already discussed most of the components of these bills and will focus this week on the proposal to raise the electoral threshold.
 
During the committee discussion, a vote was adopted separating the election threshold component from the rest of the bill, thus creating two separate bills. As yet, the implications of this decision are unknown. The committee decision may be overturned by a vote by the full Knesset plenum, the government could decide to advance the two separate bills together as a package, or each bill could be subject to separate hearings and a separate vote. While the coalition has not yet reached a final agreement on the level of the new threshold, the bill is likely to be submitted for a final vote in the first two weeks of March.
 
ACRI’s Position: ACRI strongly opposes raising the qualifying threshold as it may damage the representation of minority groups in the Knesset, especially the Arab minority and Ultra-Orthodox Jews. So long as the government advances the idea of raising the electoral threshold, it must at least find tools to ensure the representation of minority groups in the Knesset, such as guaranteeing a certain number of protected Knesset seats or setting a special threshold for minority groups. One example of this kind of tool is the “Serbian Law” which states that political parties recognized by the Central Election Commission as representing minority groups are exempted from the threshold that is set for other political parties.
 
Additional background Information on this issue.
ACRI’s position paper – as sent to Committee Members.

Water Disconnections as a Result of Debt

 

Directives for Private Water Corporations
(Ending or Reducing Water and Sewage Services) – 2013

Economic Affairs Committee

Thursday, 30/01/2014 | Approval of Directive

 

ACRI’s Position: The draft regulations painstakingly formulated by the Water Authority, following multiple drafts and public hearings, constitute a slight improvement to the current situation and to past drafts, especially as it sets, for the first time, a prohibition against disconnecting certain population groups from the water supply. Nevertheless, certain basic principles and balances are absent from the draft guidelines, which together with some fundamental ambiguities, will continue to endanger human rights. ACRI’s position is that it is necessary to prohibit all water disconnections – ensuring a minimum supply of water per person. It is necessary to adopt a policy that recognizes access to water to be a fundamental human right, which would require water debts to be collected through legal or execution proceedings only, and not by cutting off the water supply.
 
According to research conducted by ACRI, many countries and international institutions now define access to water, and the ability to purchase water at a reasonable price, as a basic human right. Many countries have adopted legislation that expressly forbids the disconnection of vulnerable households from the water supply, or have instituted a legal, administrative or de-facto policy prohibiting such actions. In many places a social water policy has been introduced, designed to ensure affordable access to water, even for vulnerable population with less means.
 
To read more on ACRI’s position regarding the right to water, click here.

In the Spotlight:

 

+972

Photo diary: Inside Israel’s ‘Holot’ detention center for asylum seekers

Tuesday, February 4

 
 
“In December 2013 Israel began populating the Holot detention facility for African asylum seekers, first with those who were held in other prisons and gradually with those who were until now living in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. The detainees at Holot are being held there without charge until they can be deported or such a time as their asylum claims are processed, which for many detainees means indefinitely.
 
Ahmad, who asked that we not use his last name in order to protect him from retribution by prison authorities, escaped from Darfur five and a half years ago and has been living in Israel ever since. Like many other asylum seekers, he recently was given a summons to report to Holot. Faced with no other option, Ahmad boarded an immigration police bus and arrived there on Sunday, February 1, 2014.
 
Prison authorities are not allowing photographers or journalists inside the Holot prison facility. The following are photos Ahmad took inside the detention facility. We hope to update this photo blog whenever possible with images — and occasionally text — in order to show what life is like inside Holot.”
 
To view all the photos from Holot in the +972 photo diary, click the link above.

 

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Citizenship and Residency, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Refugees and Asylum-Seekers, Social and Economic Rights

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