Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush began work Sunday in a new temporary office – in a protest tent outside Maasiyahu Prison in Ramla.
He said his superior, Gideon Sa'ar, had asked him not to make the move, but that he had been adamant to show support for the Emmanuel parents imprisoned there for refusing to send their girls to a school that no longer separates between Sephardim and Ashkenazim.
"The Likud has sentiments for such volatile issues," he said of the education minister's objection. "Sa'ar turned to me this morning and asked, just a moment before I came here, not to go. He very obviously does not agree with me."
Porush explained he would only spend part of the parents' sentence in his makeshift office. "My schedule does not allow me to be here two full weeks," he said.
Porush in protest tent (Photo: Avi Moalem)
The parents have been jailed for refusing to send their girls to school in Emmanuel, as the High Court had ordered. An additional 22 mothers refused arrest, and the court is scheduled to decide their cases Sunday.
"Much of the public does not understand why parents are being sent to jail like this. Are they thieves? Criminals? Murderers? Has anyone thought that maybe these mothers need to breastfeed or give birth?" he wondered.
Porush's affiliates have stressed that the funds required to move his office come from United Torah Judaism and not the Education Ministry. The party is scheduled to have its faction meeting there Monday.
Earlier Sunday MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) visited the parents, and said upon exiting the prison that it was unfortunate for people who had committed no crime to be placed behind bars.
"The High Court decision lacks all common sense, and exists nowhere else in the world. The Education
He said he, as part of the governing coalition, was also to blame, and added that such "anti-haredi" decisions would never have occurred during the previous education minister's term. "Today it is a great stain on Israel," he said of the court's ruling.