The Israeli education minister’s letter to the graduating class of 2014 is evidence of the fact that Israeli education is little more than an ongoing IDF preparatory course.
By Avner Ben-Amos (translated from Hebrew by Miriam Erez)
A letter to the high school class of 2014 published by Israeli Education Minister Shai Piron in the July 24, 2014 issue of Israel Hayom is a worrying wakeup call. A wakeup call because the education minister presents a worldview that rests on distorted, revisionist history. Worrying because this minister determines, directly or indirectly, how our schoolchildren perceive their reality. Even if only a few of them end up reading the letter, written as a farewell to last year’s graduates, it is quite instructive regarding the minister and his positions, and is therefore worth analyzing.
Let’s begin with the headline. “Only our wars are wars of no choice”, states the minister with undisguised glee. It’s a statement reminiscent of the arbitrary one by Elazar Stern, former chief IDF education officer, that, the IDF is “the world’s most moral army,” after obviously studying, measuring, and comparing all of the world’s armies and determining our ethical ranking among them.
But beyond that, Minister Piron ignores the fact that all of our wars since 1967 – including the most recent one in Gaza – were intended to clinch our control over the occupied territories, all of which make them wars of choice, including the first Lebanon War, whose architect, Menachem Begin, declared it as such. And if we work backward we even find that the 1956 Sinai Campaign was a war of choice that Israel joined together with the declining imperialist powers of France and Britain.
Another wild statement in Piron’s letter is, “We’re the only country that on the day of its founding, did not rejoice in the defeat of its enemies, but rather extended its hand in peace.” Considering that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees expelled by the IDF in 1948 were left on the other side of the border and not permitted to return home, it’s not clear how we extended our hand in peace. This statement also elucidates Piron’s ongoing refusal to allow Arab schools to mention the...Read More