A kindergarten assistant from Pardes Chana has quit her job after being roiled on social media for tearing down a picture of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from the wall of the kindergarten classroom. Speaking Monday to Reshet Bet, the husband of the assistant, Osnat Hagai, said that she was “exhausted” from the public response to her action, which included sharp criticism for disrespecting the prime minister and attempting “to brainwash children into becoming leftists.” The charge was ridiculous, the husband said, “everything happened when the kids were out of the room,” and it’s unlikely any of them would have even noticed the missing picture.
On Sunday, a viral video message spread quickly on social media networks, showing Hagai tearing down the picture. In a message accompanying the video, she said that “a man who has been indicted for bribery and fraud cannot act as an example to children.” After the video was posted, she was pilloried by thousands of respondents, leading to her resignation, her husband said. Israeli public schools generally have photos of the prime minister and president hanging in classrooms, along with those of other prominent individuals.
The post also garnered negative reactions from official quarters, with the Pardes Chana municipality quick to point out that Hagai had acted on her own, and that she had made “improper use” of an educational facility to spread a political message, against the policies of the Education Ministry. Education Minister Rafi Peretz said that he “considers this a serious matter. Binyamin Netanyahu is the prime minister and he must be treated with dignity and respectfully, even by those who disagree with him. This kind of behavior in an educational facility is unacceptable.”
In Ramat Gan, meanwhile, the city’s deputy mayor, Ro’i Barzilay, came in for his own round of condemnation after he suggested removing Netanyahu’s photo from City Hall. Posting an image of Netanyahu’s photo on social media, he said that if removed, a placard could be placed instead of the photo saying that “good government has been lost, and so has the photo.”
Response was immediate and fierce, with the vast majority of respondents slamming Barzilay for the suggestion. Reactions ranged from those condemning the deputy mayor, telling him that he had not done “even one thousandth of a percent of what Netanyahu has done for this country,” and that he “doesn’t have a right to even look at that picture,” to citizens complaining that he was wasting valuable time – and their tax money – “by engaging in nonsense instead of city business. Remember, we pay one of the highest municipal tax rates in Israel.”
In a statement, the Ramat Gan municipality said that the post was “an unnecessary, disrespectful and ugly provocation. The mayor has pointed this out to the deputy mayor.”