An Arab convicted of attacking his Jewish neighbor is set to address students at Tel Aviv’s prestigious Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium high school on Sunday, according to Jewish advocacy group Btsalmo.
Saleh Diab, an Arab resident of eastern Jerusalem’s Shimon HaTzadik/Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, was invited to the Sept. 3 event by the radical left-wing Youth Against Dictatorship group, which has been rallying teenagers to refuse to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
The event is being held to protest against the government’s judicial reform effort.
“Starting in the afternoon [of Sept. 3], Youth Against Dictatorship activists will take over the Herzliya Gymnasium in Tel Aviv,” the organization announced earlier this week. “Open classes will be held on the subject of activism and social struggles, led by representatives of Breaking the Silence and residents of Sheikh Jarrah.”
Seventeen-year-old Tal Mitnick from Tel Aviv, one of the organizers, was quoted by local media as saying, “We must stop the judicial revolution and we must stop taking part in a military that serves settlements and the occupation.”
A member of Shimon HaTzadik’s “neighborhood committee,” Diab has been arrested numerous times for assaulting Jews, most recently in June on suspicion of attacking Shabbat worshippers with an iron rod. In 2014, he served eight months in prison for aggravated assault on a Jewish neighbor.
Last year, Diab was caught chanting slogans lauding violence, with one video showing him praising Palestinian Udai Tamimi, the Hamas terrorist who shot and killed Military Police Sgt. Noa Lazar, 18.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir previously called Diab “a terrorist responsible for harassing and bullying the Jews of the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood.”
Btsalmo CEO Shai Glick has called on Education Minister Yoav Kisch to cancel the “delusional” on-campus demonstration, adding that the State Education Law mandates schools to prepare pupils for “a meaningful service in the Israel Defense Forces or national service.
“The time has come once and for all to check the delusional behavior of [headmaster] Mr. [Ze’ev] Degani and whether he is fit to lead students,” Glick wrote in a letter copied to a handful of national politicians and local officials.
Responding to a question from Israel National News on Tuesday, the Education Ministry said it would “check the complaints and the facts” and take action “in accordance with the legal means at its disposal.”
Glick told JNS, “There is nothing to check; there’s a terrorist and an organization that calls for refusals [to serve]. Just prohibit this unlawful event from taking place already.”
He added that he was disappointed that Kisch did not personally respond to his missive.
Right-wing politicians and activists similarly decried the failure to take swift action.
“The terrorist Saleh Diab, who served prison time for attacking Jews on nationalistic grounds, was invited to give a speech at the opening day of the Herzliya Gymnasium alongside representatives of Breaking the Silence. Kudos to the ‘right-wing’ government,” Likud Party lawmaker MK Tali Gottlieb sarcastically proclaimed in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
The Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium was founded in 1905 as the first Hebrew high school in what was then Ottoman-controlled Palestine. Its current headmaster, Ze’ev Degani, who has headed the institution for the past 15 years, has clashed with successive right-wing governments in Jerusalem.
In 2016, Degani invited members of Breaking the Silence to speak with students, defying calls from the Education Ministry to cancel the lecture. He also stopped sending delegations from his school on state-sponsored trips to the Auschwitz extermination camp, claiming they contributed to a “process of fascisization taking over politics in this country.”
Herzliya Gymnasium graduate Lt. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, a former IDF chief of staff who went on to become the Jewish state’s foreign minister in a short-lived unity government in 2020-2021, has said that he is “ashamed” of his alma mater.