A seminar held by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) took place Wednesday, despite reports on Tuesday that the seminar that had reportedly been canceled on Tuesday by Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, over allegations that the ACRI supported terrorists and their families.
Specifically, Bennett's decision to cancel the event was announced following a letter signed by the members of 45 bereaved families, objecting to the alleged cooperation between the ministry and the association over its alleged support of terrorists and de-legitimization efforts against the state.
ACRI decided to hold the event without the participation of the Ministry of Education; though a seat was reserved for a representative of the ministry, it remained empty.
ACRI Dir. Gen. Sharon Avraham-Weiss, who spoke at the seminar, thanked those who came and saod that there are those who decided not to come out of fear of retaliation from the heads of the Education Ministry.
During the seminar, Merav Hajaj, whose daughter Shir was murdered in the Jerusalem vehicluar attack in January, spoke out against the ACRI. "I came today to give voice to the bereaved families' cries, which the de-legitimization organizations that protect terrorists in the High Court of Justice do not listen to. The aid you provide terrorists who have murdered our loved ones is a spit in the face of the families," she said.
In response to Hajaj's words, Ruby Demelin, whose son was killed in 2002 during his reserve service, invited Hajaj to a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian bereaved families.
The ACRI issued a statement prior to the seminar, saying that "all are invited to come and express their support. We worked on the conference in full partnership with the Center for Civic Education and the Center for Educational Technology for months, and therefore will not lend a hand to the campaign to delegitimize the civilian organizations that dare to criticize the government's activities.
"We invite you to call upon those who hold their rights in high regard to come and hear about workers' rights and not lend a hand to silencing."
The association's statement came a day after Bennett announced he will "not provide any assistance to an organization wishing to harm the State of Israel" following the bereaved families' letter.
"The Association for Civil Rights is an extremist de-legitimization organization whose many actions against the State of Israel include directly fighting us, bereaved families, while defending the terrorists who murdered our children, parents, brothers, wives and husbands," their request read.
It continued by writing that "unfortunately, the same de-legitimization organizations repeatedly protect these loathsome murderers. It is unthinkable that the Education Ministry would support this organization. Defenders of terrorism must be aggressively fought, not given budgetary support that comes out of all our pockets."
As a result of the letter, Bennett decided to cancel the seminar and have Education Ministry, Dir. Gen. Shmuel Abuhav, look into the allegations.
Sources within the Education Ministry stated that "the education minister will not provide any assistance to an organization wishing to harm the State of Israel. As such, if indeed this will be found to be the case, there will be no more cooperation, ever. Actions of the organization for the benefit of terrorists go against the important and significant values that the education system promotes."