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Letter From The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel To the Minister of Education Regarding a Seminar of Zochrot Organization

 

 

12.8.2010

Mr. Gid’on Sa’ar

Minister of Education

 

Dear Sir,

 

Urgent: Seminar and curriculum about the nakba,

developed by Zochrot and intended for kindergartens and young people

 

  1. We ask that you make Zochrot cease the activities it conducts in Israeli schools, and prevent it from holding the seminar it planned for next week, for the following reasons.

  2. According to Zochrot’s (henceforth referred to as “the organization”) internet site, it intends to organize a seminar on 17.8.10 dealing with the following topic: “Can little children be taught about the nakba, and if so, how?” The seminar is devoted to a lesson plan oriented toward children in Israeli kindergartens.1

  3. We fear that the seminar’s title is merely rhetorical, since the organization has, for the past year, at least, been active among pupils in the Israeli school system in connection with a lesson plan it has developed: “How do you say nakba in Hebrew?”2

  4. This lesson plan includes expressions supporting and deeply identifying with Arab views that the establishment of the state of Israel was a disaster for them, nor does it refer to the War of Independence by name, nor by its other name, “the War of Liberation,” but rather, “the 1948 war,” as well as referring to the Arabs as “refugees” expelled from their homes during the war.

  5. We believe there is no justification for including this lesson plan in the educational curriculum of Israeli kindergartens and elementary schools. We ask, therefore, that its inclusion cease completely and immediately.

  6. In addition to the fact that inclusion of this lesson plan is by its very nature unsuitable to the education of pupils in the state of Israel, which is a democratic Jewish state, it should also be noted that the lessons make no attempt to present opinions representing the other side.

  7. Moreover, the intention to teach this lesson plan to young children is particularly disturbing. Children of this age, more than at any other, lack the ability – psychological, emotional and intellectual – to examine matters critically and comparatively. It is therefore particularly unfair to present such material to them, exploiting their youth in order to educate them one-sidedly and, even more seriously, in a manner that contradicts the values of Zionism and Israeliness.

  8. We believe it incontrovertible that this lesson plan presenting a comprehensive curriculum dealing with the nakba and the Arab narrative, that introduces post-Zionist content - to say the least – into the Israeli educational system, including kindergartens, fails to fulfill any of the principal aims of public education.

  9. Public education, whose aim is to train loyal citizens of Israel, and inculcate in them the principles of the Declaration of Independence, cannot allow them to develop sympathy toward those opposing the very establishment of the state of Israel, who believe its creation was a “disaster,” and who commemorate it with a day of mourning, “Nakba Day.” This is part of a criminal vision to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

  10. Educating pupils to loyalty to the state, on the values and principles of the Declaration of Independence and of a democratic Jewish state, assumes that the state exists as a democratic Jewish state. The existence of the state of Israel is, in the words of the Supreme Court, “a fundamental constitutional fact.”

  11. We see no need to elaborate on these comments, which are accepted and well-known, except by extremist, aberrant groups seeking to undermine this Israeli-Zionist consensus.

  12. At the same time, we believe it necessary that severe steps be taken toward these groups, and firmly oppose legitimizing their activities in the Israeli school system.

  13. We must never permit a curriculum that opposes and contradicts our right to live on our land, and our very existence as a democratic Jewish state, to find a place in the educational system.

  14. We therefore believe that because it contradicts these goals, the lesson plan to which we refer – which states, as noted earlier, that its aim is to undermine the basis of Israeli identity – must be totally excluded from every institution that is part of the education system in the state of Israel.

  15. Given what has been said heretofore, we wish to know whether the Ministry of Education has approved the teaching of this controversial lesson plan.

  16. If the required approval was not received (which, as far as we know, is the case), we request that all necessary steps be taken immediately to stop carrying out this activity in the schools, and prevent its implementation, or that of a similar activity, in kindergartens as well.

  17. In addition, we ask that the Ministry examine whether the curriculum at issue is currently being taught, or intended to be taught, in those educational institutions whose staff members – kindergarten teachers and others – plan to participate in the abovementioned seminar.

  18. Moreover, we ask that educators operating within the framework of the Ministry of Education be called upon to refrain from participating in the abovementioned seminar, and that the most serious reservations be expressed regarding its content and aims.

  19. We ask you to take these steps so that, if this curriculum has not been approved, the Ministry of Education express its view unequivocally and make illegitimate its inclusion in educational institutions in the state of Israel.

  20. I would be grateful for your prompt response.

 

 

Sincerely,

Hila Cojen, Attorney

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel

 

1 The invitation to the seminar appears on the organization’s web site: http://zochrot.org/index.php?id=839

2 The study guide appears on the organization’s web site: http://zochrot.org/index/php?id+718

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