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Analysis: Indoctrination in the Israeli school system

Feb. 14, 2014 3:13 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 19, 2014 11:49 A.M.)
By: Tal G.
Tal G. is a high school teacher in central Israel. His name has been altered to protect his anonymity.

We Israelis are told on a daily basis about the everyday propaganda spewed forth by the Palestinian Authority: Palestinian kids learn to hate Jews, terrorists are glorified, and the land of Israel doesn't appear on geography maps in schools.

Every day for years, our government, helped by the media, has told us, "We have no real partner for peace, just look how they teach their children."

I have been in the Israeli education system as a student for 12 years and I currently work as a teacher in a high school located in the middle of Israel. As such, I am a part of the Israeli educational system.

It is about time to take a deep look at the Israeli educational system and to see how Israeli indoctrination works.

Just this last month, when a teacher in the city of Tivon dared to raise moral questions about the IDF's actions in the occupied territories, a student complained about him and the teacher was forced to face a hearing concerning his future as a teacher at his school.

This student, who dutifully fulfilled the role of "thought police" as depicted in the novel 1984, was subsequently invited to the Israeli Parliament as a guest of honor and was praised by the Israeli Culture minister and the Security minister. Last week, supporters of the student organized an evening honoring her for her courage as a defender of Israel against the "brainwashing" teacher.

These incidents are part of a larger trend of increasing systemic indoctrination in Israeli schools. For example, there is a new educational project targeting Israeli students in high school which is called Masa Israeli ("An Israeli Journey"). More than 15,000 students have participated in this project since 2003, which aims to strengthen the patriotic feelings of the students towards the land of Israel.

Every year, thousands of students from all over Israel are taken on a journey in various locations across the country, including Jewish settlements that are located outside the Israeli border inside the West Bank. No questions about the legitimacy of these settlements are being raised, they are simply depicted as a part of Israel.

This is a disgraceful use of the education system in Israel to indoctrinate students to think that the settlements in the West Bank are legitimate, thus encouraging ignorance about the reality of the region.

Ironically, geography maps of Israel in Israeli classrooms aren't that different from geography maps in Palestine. The Green Line dividing Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights doesn't appear at all, and Palestine just doesn't exist; it's all Israel. Regarding this issue, the Israeli media is no better; maps of Israel rarely include the Green Line and the West Bank is annexed de-facto to Israel.

These maps clearly annex the West Bank to Israel, and depict, for example, the large settlement of Ariel as a part of Israel, even though it is located 20 km beyond the international border deep inside the West Bank. News programs on major TV channels include these maps of Israel in their broadcast segments. Any mention of removing Israeli settlements in the news, meanwhile, is depicted as a concession and not as a acceptance of international law.

Decisions made by the UN security council, meanwhile, are ignored and buried by the Israeli government, the media and the education system. For example, UN resolution 465, which was accepted unanimously by all 15 members of the security council, determined that "all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."

Virtually no student in Israel has ever learned about these UN security council resolutions, or the Geneva conventions, or even saw a map of Israel that clearly showed the Green Line. They have almost never heard about the implications of the Israeli settlements, nor their illegal status under international law.

Students must know the whole truth about the reality they live in, especially due to the fact that most of them will become soldiers in the Israeli military at the end of high school. Instead of endorsing critical thinking and raising moral questions, teachers in Israel are encouraging ignorance and acceptance of the illegal acts being carried out by our government, our army and the Israeli settlement enterprise.

Opinions and right-wing ideology are always being portrayed as facts, while raising moral questions and teaching a different narrative might cost a simple teacher his job.

I find it doubtful that the Palestinian education system has more effects on Palestinian children's hatred toward Israel than do the roadblocks and raids made by Israeli soldiers.

The Israeli system of indoctrination which endorses ignorance and the delegitimization of the Palestinian narrative is manufacturing generations of Israelis who are out of touch with the reality they live in and will continue to fan the flames of the conflict.

The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect Ma'an News Agency's editorial policy.
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