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Teaching second graders to love the country through death

It’s the little things, the everyday things, that really make you wonder about where this place is headed.

I caught a glimpse of a picture on Facebook yesterday that sent chills down my spine. It was uploaded by Tal Rabinowsky, who in the caption and comments of the picture said that he saw the following text while helping his cousin do his bible homework.

His cousin is in second grade.

The textbook that Tal's kid was reading (photo: Tal Rabinovsky)

My translation:

3. Why was it important for Abraham to buy his own cemetery plot to bury Sarah? Read the following story, it may help you answer the question:

Jacqueline made aliyah (immigrated) from France. She has been living in Jerusalem for 30 years now.

Her son, Elad, was killed in the Lebanon War. After her son was buried, Jacqueline said that only after her son was buried in Israeli soil, did she begin to feel that she belonged to our country and connected to her land.

(Tal’s photo will be discussed tonight on Channel 10’s “Zinor Laila”)

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    1. sh

      This is the history lesson, right?

      Reply to Comment
    2. caden

      Ami, I don’t see anything wrong with this but I can see where you would, and I’m really not being sarcastic. Do parents have any say about lesson plans for particular types of schools in Israel or is it handed down from above.

      Reply to Comment
    3. It illustrates the effect I described as “the abolition of history” when we were talking about the effects of Heinrich Graetz’s treatment of Biblical ‘history’ (Uri Avnery roundly called it ‘myth’) as being on the same plane of discourse as ordinary, profane, political history. In that sense, I think one could call it slightly blasphemous. It would certainly impair the child’s ability to distinguish between Biblical ‘history’ and real history.
      As a religious doctrine, the idea that Jews will be resurrected (at the very least) separately from other human beings, and that burial in the land of Israel, or failing that, burial in clearly separated Jewish cemeteries in the Diaspora, facilitates this separation on the Last Day, is as old as the idea of resurrection itself, however old that is, and however one may feel about it as a doctrine.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Eva Ferrero

      Martyr cult ??

      Reply to Comment
    5. That might be a little too strong. Veneration of war dead is a pretty universal feature of national cultures. It’s tendentious to describe the war dead as ‘martyrs’, because it implies that the war was a religious one, and not all Zionists accept any religious reading of Israeli history, and of those who do, some would deny that the Lebanon war had religious justification. Some might even use the term ‘martyr’ in an inverse sense, as implying that those who died in this war were victims of an unjustified war waged by their own rulers, i.e. martyrs to the iniquity of Israeli policy itself. There’s a terrific lack of specificity about the religious dimension of Israeli history, except among those who hold that every single conflict between Jews and non-Jews is immediately, totally and unqualifiedly a war between good and evil. There’s a moderate religious group which is prepared to distinguish between ‘mitzvah wars’ and other wars, and a moderate secular group, which while being agnostic about formal religion, is prepared to distinguish between wars that are justified in terms of Jewish ethics, and other wars.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Bettina

      @SH : no, it’s not history, it’s bible. Tanach. This is part of the outrage, to mix the political nationalist agenda with biblical stories. The other part is that this text is supposed to be dealt with by 7-8 year old children, now really!

      Reply to Comment
    7. Philos

      F******G awful!!!! :'(

      Reply to Comment
    8. Jeremy

      I would be shocked if I didn’t know anyone who made these silly arrangements. Ahem.

      Reply to Comment
    9. It would be very interesting to see a translation of the education policy guidelines for Bible classes in ordinary mamlachti schools, if there are any. As far as I can make out, there are no positive guidelines, only ad hoc bannings of specific books which cause scandalised reactions. This presumably means books are adopted for classroom use entirely on the basis of the personal preferences of individual teachers and head-teachers. Nurit Peled-Elhanan says roundly about mamlachti education in general:
      “Everything they do, from kindergarten to 12th grade, they are fed in all kinds of ways, through literature and songs and holidays and recreation, with these chauvinistic patriotic notions.”
      It would be impossible to formulate a coherent policy for religious education under current conditions, because it would become a political football between those who insist that the Bible should be taught as literally, historically true, and those who are groping for more subtle explanations of what the nature of the ‘truth’ it contains actually is.

      Reply to Comment
    10. The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace says that, until recently, the Ministry of Education issued an approved list of schoolbooks, but this practice has been stopped on the grounds that Israel is a modern country and does not engage in censorship. The Ministry may disqualify textbooks containing prejudices and stereotypes in response to complaints from the public, a method described as “far more effective than censorship exerted by a civil servant.” I can’t find this document online, so I am quoting Wikipedia on it.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Sergeiy

      Message: “To truly belong here, you must be soldiers, and preferably die in battle, or at least lose a loved one that way”.

      Audience: 7-year-olds.

      Now, if some folks out there think there is nothing wrong with this – it probably says something about their own upbringing…

      Reply to Comment
    12. SH: “This is the history lesson, right?”
      It’s Bible studies.

      Reply to Comment
    13. sh

      Bettina, I saw the history book of a kid who goes to a religious school and it was the same kind of mix (no world history at all). I wondered whether for a state school this is bible and for a religious school this is history.

      Reply to Comment
    14. If I remember correctly, from I’m not sure where, even at university level, departments of ‘history’ and ‘Jewish history’ are separate.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Aviva

      You got that from Sand’s book–the introduction I believe.

      Reply to Comment