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…Read More... | 5 Comments
If Yair Lapid's party takes over the Education Ministry, it could bring an end to the Greater-Israelization of the country's schools and universities. After 45 years of occupation and no end in sight, it would be better for Israel to have a completely right-wing/ultra-Orthodox government than a right-wing/centrist one with Yair Lapid, Kadima and possible other fig leaves. A purely hardline government would attract more opposition, especially abroad, while a right/center amalgam will fool a lot of people into thinking things aren't so bad. In short, a Bibi/Lapid government is more beneficial to the occupation than a Bibi/Yishai government -…Read More... | 13 Comments
An Israeli youth basketball league limits the number of non-Jewish "foreigners" who can join--excluding children who were born and raised in Israel. If a team goes over the cap, it is barred from district competition. Two Filipino boys play a one-on-one basketball game in South Tel Aviv, an area where many migrant workers and their Israel-born children live. The kids shout at each other in Hebrew as they dribble, shoot, and score. As local as they might seem, these boys are likely to be excluded from a local league due to a little-known policy that prevents many non-Jewish “foreigners” from…Read More... | 29 Comments
In other countries, when you say "education is our future", you usually mean that it will determine the level of prosperity and accomplishment we can hope to achieve. In Israel, the "future" is meant quite literally, in the sense that without education, we would have no future because we would all be dead. How deep is the culture of fear in Israel? Every day seems to bring a fresh piece of evidence indicating it is quite deep indeed. Last week, I was waiting for the bus, when I saw this poster on the bus stop: The picture, taken by me,…Read More... | 10 Comments
Not kidding. According to Haaretz, the Education Ministry has found a particularly macabre way of imbibing our young ones with respect for their heritage: Each junior high to high school students will adopt "a memorial or the tomb of a soldier fallen in the War of Independence." They will be tasked with keeping the tombs clean, and will have to write a report about the dead person or persons buried under or commemorated by their pet cenotaph as part of their matriculation exam. I'm sorry, I have every respect for families who lost their loved ones to the conflict, but…Read More... | 15 Comments
The Headlines: An Ugly Fight over Benefits to Yeshiva Students > The governing coalition is split on the issue of social benefits for Yeshiva students. The ultra-orthodox parties demand their continuation, despite a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary. Other ministers, including in Likud, are strongly opposed. Attempts to include university students in the bill have not taken off, because the criteria (three children, no apartment, no car, no other income) are clearly tailored for the ultra-orthodox community. This blatant discrimination is outrageous, but so is calling an entire community ‘parasites’ and ‘thieves’ on the front page of a national…Read More...
The Headlines: Brutal and Incompetent > The mess over the illegal migrant worker employed by the wife of Defense Minister Barak (Labor) is not going away. The Attorney General turned down her request to pay an administrative fine, and is considering an indictment. The immigration police is scouring the country looking for the worker, while she leisurely interviews for one media organ after another. This is yet more evidence that the immigration police, supposedly set up to deal with illegal migrant workers, is in fact an incompetent, wasteful and vicious body, based on racial-profiling and terrorizing innocents, while victims of…Read More... | 1 Comment
The Headlines: Celebrity Politics > All the newspapers open with the rescue of miners in Chile. > The Israeli media has a love-hate relationship with Iranian President Ahmedinijad. They hate the person, but love to cover him. The reporting on his visit to Lebanon, starting today, is reminiscent of the excitement produced by the visit of a celebrity. The fact that a person we are fascinated with on the television screen is suddenly so physically close (just across the border) is titillating. To the point of hysteria: Yisrael Hayom speculates [Heb] the visit might lead to Hizbulla taking over the…Read More...
The Headlines: The "Jewish state" demand strikes back > Netanyahu offered the Palestinians an extension of the settlement freeze in return for recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Didn’t he offer them citizenship in return for the same thing, just the other day? It seems like yesterday’s bargain was better. The newspapers cover this as a cheap stunt, but give more weight to Netanyahu’s comments emphasizing that the settlements are important, but also that "there are other interests to consider". > Opposition party Kadima, in a counter-stunt, wants [Heb] to enshrine the Declaration of Independence in…Read More...
The Headlines: Heading in the wrong direction, fast > Israelis will soon be allowed to accelerate to 11o kph on some highways. But where will they be going? > One indication could be the government’s endorsement of a law requiring non-Jewish new citizens to declare loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and Democratic” state. Some ministers are already planning a law revoking citizenship from those convicted of “’disloyalty”, or requiring all 16-year olds to sign a loyalty oath, if they want to get their ID cards. On the margins, the bizarre machinations of Defense Minister Ehud Barak over this law…Read More...
The Headlines: Jews and non-Jews > The government is likely to approve today a proposed bill, which will require all new non-Jewish citizens to declare their loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state. Ha’aretz [Heb] and Yedioth focus their criticism today on Ehud Barak, leader of the Labor party, who supports the law despite opposition from all his party’s ministers. The tone of coverage in Ma’ariv and Yisrael Hayom [Heb] is indifferent and supportive, respectively (but not respectfully). > The head of Elad, an organization which promotes the settlement of Jews in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, hit…Read More... | 1 Comment
The Headlines: The Dollar declines, Israeli politics sink even lower > The dollar has sharply declined throughout the world. In Israel, the national bank has been trying to stop this development (which would hurt exports and economic growth) by buying huge amounts of foreign currency. Predictably, it is failing to exclude Israel from the global trend. This is an interesting and important story, but let us put it in perspective: the exchange rate is right now about 5-6% below what it was most of the year, and other currencies (and export markets) are unaffected by this trend. > Defense Minister…Read More...
Headlines: Disloyalty to Judaism and Democracy Netanyahu has decided to support a proposed bill, which would require new citizens to proclaim their allegiance not just to Israel, as they are required to do right now, but specifically to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”. The law would apply only to non-Jews, and all outlets agree that it was specifically tailored to deny citizenship to Palestinians who marry Israeli Arabs, and wish to become citizens. The coverage is largely neutral, though, focusing on coalition intrigue and the impact on the peace talks. Nobody referred to the irony of this proposal:…Read More...
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