In a precedent setting decision, the Jerusalem District Court has overruled the Israel Ministry of Education and ordered it to immediately reinstate an Israeli teacher who questioned the manner in which the school system was teaching the controversial “Rabin Legacy” curriculum. The court also ordered that the Ministry to pay the plaintiff 30,000 NIS in compensatory damages in addition to legal and court fees.

The case of veteran educator Yisrael Shiran stems from a memo he wrote to two colleagues in 2000, in which he made a point of deploring and condemning the murder of the former prime minister while asking whether, as a result of the outbreak of violence and the murder of upwards of 1,000 Jews in the post-Oslo years, it wasn’t time to rethink how the “Rabin Legacy” should be discussed in school. The Rabin Legacy curriculum was instituted by the Education Ministry to educate students concerning the contributions that the slain Israeli leader had made to bringing peace to the country. The curriculum has a heavy pro-peace process bias which still offends many opponents of the Oslo Accords.

Then Minister of Tourism, Yuli Tamir, came across the memo and proceeded to make it public. Tamir then launched an aggressive public campaign against Shiran in an effort to destroy his educational career.

At the start of school year 2006-7, Shiran was offered a position at the Moriah Barkai School in Haifa. The school was summarily notified by the Ministry of Education, now headed by Tamir, that they could not hire Shiran. With the help of human rights advocates Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Roi Kochavi of Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, Shiran turned to the court.

After a long and often contentious case, the court decided that the only reason for preventing this “exceptionally successful and beloved educator,” from assuming the new position was a personal vendetta against Shiran by Minister Tamir dating back to the “Rabin Legacy” memo.

“Despite the fact the Ministry of Education is attempting to obfuscate reality,” wrote Judge Heshin in the court decision, “the only plausible reason why Shiran did not get the job is a personal vendetta against him that stems from the Rabin Affair, an affair that was brought before a court of law and put to rest. Thus,” wrote the Court, “should this case too be put to rest.”

Attorney Darshan-Leitner: “This is an important victory for freedom of expression in the workplace. Yisrael Shiran refused to be cowed into accepting that educators must teach the pro-peace camp agenda forced upon them by the Ministry of Education. The effort to force Shiran out of the teaching profession because of his political and professional views has resulted in the Minister’s actions being condemned and the Ministry being fined. By taking the Minister to task personally, the Court has voiced its opposition to Ministry of Education officials who seek to harass or persecute teachers simply because they want to advance their own extremist political agenda. The Court’s decision makes clear that the witch hunt endured by Shiran for seven years must come to an end and he must be immediately reinstated to his teaching post.”