In Israel – the Army has Full Access to Schools

In Israel – the Army has Full Access to Schools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Screaming: An Israeli officer drags five-year-old Wadi’a Maswadeh towards an army vehicle after he threw a stone at soldiers – Five-year-old Palestinian boy dragged away by Israeli soldiers who then bind and blindfold his father because the child threw stones at them 


Contrary to the myths of Israeli hasbara, it is in Israeli schools that the indoctrination of the settler young take place.  Arabs are the baddies in school books.  The terrorist is the Arab.  Army involvement in schools is from kindergarten upwards.  At the same time Israel is doing its best to prevent any independent Palestinian school network in Israel though it has suffered a setback with the attempt to cut the funds of the only independent group of schools, the Christian schools network mainly based around Nazareth.  
Tony Greenstein

Israel’s army and schools work hand in hand, say teachers

Zionist troops attacking Gaza

28
September 2015  Jonathan Cook



Close
ties mean Israeli pupils are being raised to be ‘good soldiers’ rather than
good citizens

Middle
East Eye – 27 September 2015
The
task for Israeli pupils: to foil an imminent terror attack on their school. But
if they are to succeed, they must first find the clues using key words they
have been learning in Arabic.
Arabic
lesson plans for Israel’s Jewish schoolchildren have a strange focus.

Students and teachers create signs on June 30, 2015, to cover the racist graffiti spray painted on the walls of one of Israel’s few mixed schools, the Hand in Hand in Jerusalem, the night before. (Courtesy: Hand in Hand)

Those
matriculating in the language can rarely hold a conversation in Arabic. And
almost none of the hundreds of teachers introducing Jewish children to Israel’s
second language are native speakers, even though one in five of the population
belong to the country’s Palestinian minority.

Israel’s army and schools work hand in hand, say teachers

The
reason, says Yonatan Mendel, a researcher at the Van Leer Institute in
Jerusalem, is that the teaching of Arabic in Israel’s Jewish schools is
determined almost exclusively by the needs of the Israeli army.

Mendel’s
recent research shows that officers from a military intelligence unit called
Telem design much of the Arabic language curriculum. “Its involvement is what
might be termed an ‘open secret’ in Israel,” he told MEE.
“The
military are part and parcel of the education system. The goal of Arabic
teaching is to educate the children to be useful components in the military
system, to train them to become intelligence officers.”

Article: Israel’s army and schools work hand in hand, say teachers | OpEdNews

Telem
is a branch of Unit 8200, dozens of whose officers signed a letter last year revealing that their job was to pry into
Palestinians’ sex lives, money troubles and illnesses. The information helped
with “political persecution”, “recruiting collaborators” and “driving parts of
Palestinian society against itself”,
the officers noted.

Israeli military personnel visit Israeli kindergarten. Israel’s army and schools work hand …

Mendel
said Arabic was taught “without sentiment”, an aim established in the state’s
earliest years.
The
fear was that, if students had a good relationship with the language and saw
Arabs as potential friends, they might cross over to the other side and they
would be of no use to the Israeli security system. That was the reason the
field of Arabic studies was made free of Arabs.”

Officers in classroom
The
teaching of Arabic is only one of the ways the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), as
the Israeli military is known, reaches into Israeli classrooms, teachers and
education experts have told MEE.
And
many fear that the situation will only get worse under the new education
minister, Naftali Bennett, who heads Jewish Home, the settler movement’s
far-right party.
Most
Jewish children in Israel are subject to a military draft when they matriculate
from high school at the age of 17. Boys usually serve three years, and girls
two.
However,
the army and the recent rightwing governments of Benjamin Netanyahu have been
concerned at the growing numbers who seek exemptions, usually on medical,
psychological or religious grounds.

Israeli Defence Forces in schools

Nearly
300 schools have been encouraged to join an IDF-education ministry programme
called “Path of Values”, whose official goal is to “strengthen the ties and
cooperation between schools and the army”.
In
practice, say teachers, it has led to regular visits to schools by army
officers as well as reciprocal field trips to military bases for the children,
as a way to encourage them to enlist when they finish school.
Although
what takes place during visits is rarely publicised, the Israeli media reported in 2011 that on one simulated shooting exercise
children had to fire their weapons at targets wearing a keffiyeh, or
traditional Arab headdress.
“Militarism
is in every aspect of our society, so it is not surprising it is prominent in
schools too,”
said Amit Shilo, an activist with New Profile, an organisation
opposed to the influence of the army on Israeli public life.
“We
are taught violence is the first and best solution to every problem, and that
it is the way to solve our conflict with our neighbours.”

Fear of being sacked
MEE
has had to conceal the identities of the teachers it spoke to, because the
education ministry requires pre-approval of any interviews with the media.
Most
of the teachers were concerned that they might be sacked if they were seen to
be criticising official policy.
All
the teachers noted that schools have come under mounting pressure to actively
participate in the IDF programme.
Each
school is now graded annually by the education ministry not only on its
academic excellence but also on the draft rate among pupils and the percentages
qualifying for elite units, especially in combat or intelligence roles.
Schools
with a high draft rate can qualify for additional funding, said the teachers.
Ofer,
a history teacher in the centre of the country, said: “When it comes to the
older children, you have to accept as a teacher that the army is going to be
inside the school and in your classroom. All the time the students are being
prepared for conscription.
“The
army is treated as something holy. There is no way to speak against the army at
any point.”

Rachel
Erhard, an education professor at Tel Aviv University, recently warned
that Israel’s schools risked becoming like those of Sparta, the city in ancient
Greece that famously trained its children from a young age to be warriors.

Public hounding
There
are additional pressures on principals to participate, note teachers.
Zeev
Dagani, head teacher of a leading Tel Aviv school who opted out of the
programme at its launch in 2010, faced death threats and was called before a parliamentary committee to
explain his actions.
The
public hounding of teachers who oppose the militarisation of Israel’s education
system, or are simply active outside the classroom in opposing the occupation,
has continued.
Adam
Verete, a Jewish philosophy teacher at a school in Tivon, near Haifa, was sacked last year after he hosted a class debate on whether
the IDF could justifiably claim to be the world’s most moral army.
As
the new school year started this month, parents and city mayors launched
high-profile campaigns against two teachers for their anti-occupation views.
Avital
Benshalom, who had just taken up her new post as head of the School of the Arts
in Ashkelon, was forced to issue an apology for signing a petition 13 years ago supporting
soldiers who refused to serve.
Herzl
Schubert, a history teacher, similarly found himself facing a storm of protest after he was filmed taking part in a West Bank
demonstration in support of the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh during the
summer vacation.
Notably,
neither Bennett nor Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intervened to support the
two teachers’ right to free speech.

Racist depictions
Teachers
and education experts who spoke to MEE said such incidents had created a
climate of fear that was intended to intimidate other teachers.
Neve,
a history teacher at a school near Tel Aviv, said: “Teachers are afraid to speak
out. The pressure comes not just from the education ministry but from pupils
and parents too. The principals are terrified something bad will happen to the
school’s reputation.”
The
education ministry declined to respond to the accusations.
Teachers
and education experts point to examples of collusion between schools and the
IDF in all aspects of the education system.
Nurit
Peled-Elhanan, a professor of education at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said
her studies of Israeli textbooks showed depictions of Arabs and Palestinians
were “racist both verbally and visually”.

“They
are necessary to legitimise a Jewish state, the history of massacres of Arabs,
discrimination against Palestinian citizens and a lack of human rights in the
occupation territories,”
she told MEE.

“The
aim is to create good soldiers, those who are prepared to torture and kill and
still think they are doing the best for the nation.”
Separate
studies of maps in textbooks have shown
three-quarters do not indicate the Green Line separating Israel from the
occupied Palestinian territories, suggesting the whole area accords with the
right’s idea of Greater Israel.
Revital,
an Arabic language teacher, said the army’s lesson plans were popular with
pupils. “I don’t approve of them, but the students like them. They celebrate
and laugh when they kill the terrorists.”
Revital
said she had been disciplined for speaking her mind in class and was now much
more cautious.
“You
end up hesitating before saying anything that isn’t what everyone else is
saying. I find myself hesitating a lot more than I did 20 years ago. There is a
lot more fascism and racism around in the wider society,”
she said.

Holocaust studies
Some
of the close ties between the IDF and the education system are well known.
The
education ministry funds several prestigious schools, such as the Reali in
Haifa, whose students combine
education with military training as cadets.
Ofer
said many senior teachers and principals were recruited directly from the army,
when they retired at 45. “They then go on to a second career instilling
‘Zionist values’ into the students,”
he said.
But
the examples of overtly militarised education tend to overshadow the more subtle
engineering of the curriculum of ordinary schools, complain teachers.
There
are particular concerns about the emphasis in the curriculum on the Holocaust,
including a decision last year to extend mandatory Holocaust studies to
all ages, including kindergartens.
Following
objections from the small leftwing Mertz party, the then education minister,
Shai Piron, instructed kindergartens that soldiers should not bring guns into
the classroom to ensure children’s safety.
Meretz
legislator Tamar Zandberg, however, observed that uniformed soldiers should not
be in kindergartens in the first place.
“People
see inserting the army into the educational system as something natural, and
it’s time that the educational system internalized the fact that its place is
to educate to civic values,”
she said.
Neve
said the students no longer learnt about human rights or universal values in
history classes.
“Now
it’s all about Jewish history – and the Holocaust is at the centre of it.
“When
we take the children to the deaths camps in Poland, the message is that
everyone is against the Jews and we have to fight for our survival. They are
filled with fear.
“The
conclusion most draw is that, if we had had an army then, the Holocaust could
have been stopped and the Jewish people saved.”

Atmosphere of fear
The
teachers said an atmosphere of fear and sense of victimhood dominated
classrooms and translated into a young generation even more rightwing than
their parents.
David,
who teaches computer sciences in a Galilee school, said: “You have to watch
yourself because the pupils are getting more nationalistic, more religious all
the time. The society, the media and the education system are all moving to the
right.”

A
2010 survey found
that 56 per cent of Jewish pupils believed their fellow Palestinian citizens
should be stripped of the vote, and 21 per cent thought it was legitimate to
call out “Death to the Arabs”.

Subjects
that have become particularly vulnerable to the promotion of military values,
according to teachers, are Arabic, history and civics.
Naftali
Bennett brought in a new head of civics in July. Asaf Malach is a political ally who believes
the Palestinians should not be allowed a state.
A
history lesson plan proposed last year, shortly after Israel’s 51-day attack on
Gaza that left at least 500 Palestinian children dead, encouraged pupils to be “Jewish fighters”, modelling themselves
on the Biblical figure of Joshua.
But
Revital said most teachers were not concerned by these developments. “Out of
the 100 teachers in my school, maybe two or three think like me. The rest think
it’s important the army are in the school.”

Among
those is Amit, who teaches Judaism in central Israel. He said: “Inviting
soldiers into the classroom is not just about encouraging the students to
enlist but for us to talk about the value of solidarity and the contribution
every person can make to society.

“Our
job is to prepare them for future challenges, and that includes the army. We
can’t ignore the reality that we live in a country where there are soldiers
everywhere.”
Neve,
however, said hopes of ending Israel’s conflicts in the region depended on
bringing a more civilian ethos back into schools.
“If
our students don’t learn about others’ history, about the Palestinians, then
how can they develop empathy for them? Without it, there can be no hope of
peace.”

 

 

 

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