"But on the other hand, there's something very discouraging about the whole thing – that the Ort education network, led by its managing director, is accusing me of things I didn’t do."
Verta said he was summoned to a hearing for a directive barring teachers from expressing their opinions in the classroom – a directive Verta insists was not part of the teachers' guidelines.
In the hearing, he said, network officials agreed pluralism must reign the classroom, but that the teachers' personal opinions must be restrained.
According to Verta, the fact that he was bringing his personal viewpoints to the class was what made him a good teacher. "I'm not hiding behind anything. I'm not afraid. I stand in front of my students as a whole human being, with all my mistakes and blunders, and that is a teacher that you can love."
Verta's case became public after one of his students complained that he had said that the IDF was "the most immoral military in the world" and that he was "ashamed" of the Israeli military.
Following the student's complaint, and the publication of the incident, the teacher has been receiving both support – from students, teachers, parents, and politicians – and criticism, including threats.
Despite Ort's decision on Thursday to bring him back to the classroom, the threats continue, the teacher and his family reported. "I can't say it's behind me," he said.
On Thursday, for the first time since the controversy became public, the philosophy teacher taught the students in the presence of whom the comments were uttered.
He asked to talk with Sapir Sabah, the student who filed the complaint against him. "It was important for me to talk with Sapir," he said. "I'm her teacher."
He stressed he did not hold any grudges against her: "I'm not angry with her and I don’t blame her for what she did. I told her that. I think she fulfilled her civic duty.
"If she thinks that her teacher is unfit, she should approach the education minister – that is undoubtedly the right thing to do."
He added that the student's conduct was "more mature than that of the Ort network."
Tzvi Peleg, managing director of the Ort educational network, said in response that Ort was "committed to an open discourse (in the classroom), based on equality, pluralism, and respect for all opinions in the Israeli public, while encouraging critical thinking. Because of that, there is no room for coercion of a personal opinion on someone possessing an opposed opinion, especially when it comes to an authority figure."