Sunday, 26 September 2021

‘Zionists’ teach Zionism

‘Imagine’

Imagine a classroom full of 8-year-olds.  They study a subject called ‘National and Social Upbringing’.  They’re told to open the textbook (printed in 2019) at page 29, which summarises, in just two bullet points, what they have just learned:

  • Jerusalem is an Arab city built by our Arab forefathers thousands of years ago.
  • Jerusalem is a holy city for Muslims and Christians.

In the next classroom, 10-year-old kids are taught Islamic Education.  At page 63, the textbook (also printed in 2019) tells them that

Al Buraq Wall is part of the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Muslims alone have absolute right to it.

‘Al-Buraq Wall’ is what Israelis call the Western Wall.  It used to be called the ‘Wailing Wall’, because it’s there that – for almost two millennia – Jews used to express their sorrow at the loss of the Temple.  But the kids can be forgiven for not knowing that, because Jews are conspicuously absent from their textbooks – until they suddenly appear in the 20th century, first as ‘immigrants’ and then as conquerors, land thieves and blood-thirsty monsters.

A couple of pages further, the same Islamic Education textbook informs the kids that the liberation of Al-Aqsa Mosque is the duty of the entire Nation of Islam; that – as Muslims – they, the kids, must “sacrifice” for its liberation.  The Mosque, is of course forever under attack: the Social Studies textbook for Year 7 claims that, as early as 1969,

the Zionists set the Al-Aqsa Mosque on fire.
Imagine other textbooks, also used in this school: an Arabic Language textbook for 10-year-olds expressing profound admiration for Dalal al-Mughrabi – a terrorist responsible for the death of 38 Israeli civilians, 13 of them children; arithmetics are taught by adding up numbers of “martyrs”.  Physics – by studying the mechanics of slingshots used by heroic youths

to confront the soldiers of the Zionist Occupation and defend themselves from their treacherous bullets.

I wrote ‘imagine’ – but this is no imaginary school.  No, it’s typical of the ‘education system’ controlled by the Palestinian Authority.  The vast majority of Palestinian children in the West Bank attend such schools.  As for the kids of Gaza, they have the ‘benefit’ of a Hamas-designed curriculum.  The same Hamas that produced an animation propaganda movie showing Israeli Jews being forced to board ships under the rifles of victorious Muslim fighters.

Problem and solution

Anyone who dreams of peace between Jews and Arabs will be driven to despair by such ‘education’.  How can Palestinian children be expected to make peace one day with those who they’ve been brainwashed into seeing as murderous monsters, as aliens with no rights and no connection to the land they are constantly ‘trying to steal’?  You’d think that none should be more exercised by this ‘education’ than the self-appointed ‘peace and human rights activists’.

Yet, if we are to judge by a recent opinion piece published in the Jewish Chronicle, the real, pressing problem rests not with Palestinian schools in Gaza and the West Bank, but with Jewish schools in the UK.  The issue, opines Sabrina Miller, is that these latter schools don’t

acknowledge the Palestinian narrative in any meaningful way.

The problem – she claims – is that these Jewish schools don’t allow their students to engage with “Israel-sceptic organisations from an early age”.

That’s why, says Ms. Miller, Jewish youth is unprepared to resist the anti-Israel onslaught they will experience as students on UK university campuses.  That’s why

many university students, frustrated with the mainstream community’s approach to Israel, abandon Zionism entirely.


Let Yachad (one of these “Israel-sceptic organisations”) ‘school’ Jewish children about ‘the conflict’ “from an early age”, says Ms. Miller, and they’ll become better advocates for Israel and lifelong Zionists.

But why?

Ms. Miller is, of course, entitled to her opinion.  And she’s not entirely wrong.  It is true that many British Jewish students feel unprepared for the ‘anti-Zionist’ venom they face on campus.  It is true that, faced with the most outlandish accusations, some are shocked to the point where they feel helpless.

But why should they have to face that venom – and be prepared for it?  Do students of Pakistani descent face a backlash caused by the often unsavory acts of the Government of Pakistan?  Are British students of Indian descent required to either defend or condemn Narendra Modi?  Why is there, in British universities, such an obsessive focus on a conflict thousands of miles away?  One of the many conflicts in today’s world and – in objective terms – by no means the gravest or the bloodiest?  Why were there – at a conference of the British Labour Party – a thousand times more Palestinian flags than Russian, Chinese, Indian, American and British flags, taken together?

So why does Ms. Miller place the onus on Jews and on Jewish schools – i.e. on the victims and their education?  One does not combat domestic abuse by teaching women and girls krav maga; it is the abusers that need to learn a lesson.  If Ms. Miller saw black people being lambasted by racists, would her solution be that schools teach BAME people more biology, the better to confront their detractors, who accuse them of being racially inferior?

‘Palestinian narrative’

But even if Jewish schools wanted to teach “the Palestinian narrative” – what exactly is that narrative?  As the West Bank textbooks prove, Palestinians don’t live in a democratic, liberal society.  Neither the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority, nor Hamas (the local branch of Muslim Brotherhood) tolerate a free press, freedom of speech, freedom of public debate…  They brook no dissent; quite the opposite – both Hamas and the PA actively encourage and reinforce societal taboos that tightly constrain speech and severely punish ‘unorthodox’ expression.  What is “the Palestinian narrative”, then – other than whatever these two dictatorial regimes decide that ‘the masses’ should know, believe and say?  The PLO Negotiations Affair Department unabashedly declare on their website that Jews are “immigrants [who] colonize Palestine at the expense of our rights and aspirations”.  Is this “the Palestinian narrative” that we ‘must’ teach to our children “from an early age”?  Should we also school them in the ravings of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane – just for balance?  Even better: should we teach Mein Kampf in Jewish schools – lest our young people feel ill-equipped to fight fascism and antisemitism?

Is your house flooded?  You clearly need more water!

But Ms. Miller’s reference to “the Palestinian narrative” may really be just an intellectually dishonest euphemism.  What she truly seems to imply is that Jewish youth are not sufficiently exposed to “criticism of Israel”.  Are they not, really??  Anyone familiar with the British media knows that, whenever the word ‘Israel’ is uttered (and it is uttered a lot!), it is usually followed by criticism – varying in nature from unfairly harsh to downright outrageous.  These days, the BBC can’t even do an interview with a Holocaust survivor without mentioning the “occupied Palestinian territories”!



BBC’s Middle East Editor urges Jews and gentiles to explore the dark side of Judaism.

Even the Jewish media is replete with views of ‘Palestinian supporters’: within days of Ms. Miller’s opinion piece, the Jewish Chronicle published an article by British-Palestinian Layla Moran MP – in which she called for boycotting “the illegal settlements”.  For those still naïve about ‘liberal’ (or Liberal) vocabulary, “the” in “the illegal settlements” stands for ‘Israeli’.  After all, there’s nothing illegal about Han Chinese settlers in Tibet and Xinjiang, Moroccan settlers in Western Sahara, Turkish settlers in Cyprus, etc., etc., etc.  Is there??

Yachad applauded Layla Moran's article, which calls for boycott against Israeli settlements.

As for the social media – to which youngsters, Jews and Gentiles alike, tend to be addicted – there the ‘criticism’ is neither unfair nor outrageous, but most often berserk.

During the latest Gaza-Israel bout of violence, my girlfriend’s children (16 and 18-year-olds) were both bombarded with horrific anti-Israel comments on Instagram…

But apparently that’s not enough.  What our youngsters really need is… a bit of Yachad ‘education about the conflict’.

Ms. Miller refers to Yachad as “a Zionist anti-occupation movement”.  On Twitter, Yachad itself professes to be “pro-Israel”.  Well, let me tell you: both descriptions are… how should I put it in polite British terms… ‘a bit’ misleading.  Yachad has mostly ceased describing itself as Zionist – probably because the term is soooo ‘divisive’.  As for “pro-Israel”… I just ploughed through Yachad’s 100 most recent Twitter posts: there are exactly 0 (zero) posts praising the Jewish state, or defending her from her many detractors.  In fact, the most recent tweets endorsed Layla Moran’s call for ‘illegal settlement boycott’ and urged everybody to ‘move beyond’ being ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ Israel…

And more ‘water’ is what they’re getting!

Ms. Miller reports with chagrin that

Petitions have been circulated by parents trying to ban Yachad […] from Jewish secondary schools.  The claim made by those that started the petition is that “Yachad is hostile to Israel”.

Firstly, note that the initial [p]etitions” surreptitiously became just one “petition” – in the space of just a few insincere words.  As far as I’m concerned, Ms. Miller is lying: I am only aware of one “petition” (actually, a complaint to JCoSS – the Jewish Community Secondary School); I was involved in writing it, so I know very well that it did not ask to “ban” Yachad, but to balance its views with those held by other organisations and by the (Zionist) majority of British Jewry.  I.e. to implement the school’s own declared policy of ‘pluralism’ and ‘diversity of opinion’.  And to uphold the law of the land, which prohibits (Art. 406 (1)(b))

the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school.

and requires (Art. 407)

that where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils […] they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views.

As for Yachad being “hostile to Israel” – let me just say that it routinely lobbies the British government to put pressure on the Jewish state, to force her to do things that the vast majority of Israelis believe to be detrimental to their safety and wellbeing.

And yet, Ms. Miller again deceives her readers by implying that Yachad is not ‘educating’ in Jewish schools.  In reality (and, in my view, in violation of the law), Yachad has unmatched involvement in the ‘education about the conflict’ in at least certain Jewish schools.  Here’s what their 2020 Annual Report says:

In January and February 2020, we completed six-part courses for both year 12 and year 13 at JCoSS, with over 30 students participating […] we also delivered sessions for years 7, 8 and 9 at JCoSS, meeting with over 75 students.

Yachad: political activists and ‘educators’

And it is not just JCoSS: as previous annual reports make it clear, Yachad (a political lobby, let’s remember!) is ‘educating’ several other Jewish schools, as well as some non-Jewish ones.

Perhaps Ms Miller’s objection is that Year 7 (11-12 year olds) isn’t sufficiently “early age” to

acknowledge the Palestinian narrative in any meaningful way.

Perhaps we should send Yachad to deliver some ‘National and Social Upbringing’ in kindergartens.  After all, the Palestinians are applying that early-age indoctri… err… ‘education’ method so very successfully!

Houston, we have a problem!

But Ms. Miller assures us that Yachad’s ‘education’ is precisely what’s needed to turn Jewish youngsters into staunch Zionists, able to hold their own on campus.

Except that evidence shows that the exact opposite is true.  Ms. Miller herself is a case in point: having now finally become aware of “the Palestinian narrative” and gained “sympathy for the Palestinian people”, one would expect Ms. Miller to be a passionate defender of Israel.  I therefore undertook an excursion to her Twitter timeline, in search for posts in which she defends the Jewish state against her detractors and combats the many lies that are said about her.  Well, I can only say that I returned from that hopeful excursion with empty hands and a sad heart…

Here’s a bit of intellectual honesty – coming from unusual quarters: Sara Hirschhorn identifies herself as a ‘liberal Zionist’; for years, she partnered with Yachad, for instance speaking together at community events.  But she is also an academic, trained to recognise and analyse reality as it is.  While speaking to a group of Jewish 14 to 18 years olds she was shocked to discover that they were (in her own words)

ashamed to be associated with Zionism.

Contrary to what Yachad and Ms. Miller would probably claim, Dr. Hirschhorn found that

It’s not the settlements, or the occupation. It’s the idea itself. […] the group did not cite the occupation or the settlements as responsible for their distancing — for them, it went far deeper, to the very premise of a self-defining State of the Jews, back to 1948.

No, it’s none of Israel’s purported ‘sins’, but

the post-modernist relativism they’ve grown up within.

The type of relativism – I’d say – that suggests that schools should teach ‘narratives’, rather than history; that opinion matters more than evidence and that there are no facts, just ‘views’.

And who is to blame for what many a Jew would describe as a catastrophe?  Here Dr. Hirschhorn’s honesty manages to shine through her ideological convictions.  Talking to her fellow ‘liberal Zionists’, she resorts to a Hebrew term from Jewish Day of Atonement liturgy (“Ashamnu” – we are guilty) to summarise her findings:

My conclusion? “Ashamnu.” We [liberal Zionists] must atone , for we have failed an entire generation.

She unequivocally assigns the youngster’s estrangement to practices that Yachad and similar ‘liberal’ outfits have been engaging in for years: that of always presenting Israel in harshly negative tones – 100% ‘criticism’, 0% praise.

Above all, we can’t only catalogue the (many) shortcomings — we must constantly and convincingly express what still makes us proud — in spite of it all — in the State of Israel today.  If we can’t do that in a selfie, a tweet, a Facebook post, an op-ed or a face-to-face discussion, we must take a hard look at how we have not only failed ourselves, but our future.

Dr. Hirschhorn is hardly the only one to ring the alarm bell.  So did Jonathan Goldstein, head of the Jewish Leadership Council:

Probably the single largest issue that we have to address now is the disengagement of our youth from […] core Jewish values and from its association with Israel. […] We’ve allowed our own youth to be detached from Israel. We’ve lost the narrative of the nation state. We’ve lost the Zionist narrative. […] We have to accept that we have a major problem globally and we have to take it on.

Note that Mr. Goldstein does not just diagnose estrangement from Israel – but also from Jewishness in general.  The two, as many a study has shown, go hand-in-hand.

In fact, Ms. Miller herself admits that

many university students […] abandon Zionism entirely.

Yet she chooses to blame “the mainstream [Jewish] community” and her ‘solution’ is… more Yachad!

Well, Ms. Miller was clearly right to choose journalism as a career.  That’s a profession in which, admittedly, one can do a lot of harm; but one at least does not get sued for malpractice.  Had she chosen medicine, I imagine her passionately prescribing a bout of chesty cough as a salutary remedy for Covid!

Gewalt, Yid’n!  What do we do?

The solution should be obvious even to ‘liberal Zionists’ like Dr. Hirschhorn, as long as – like her – they’re honest:

We need to reinterpret Zionism as national liberation, while teaching what our tradition offers about moral and political responsibility.

Of course, that wouldn’t be “reinterpretation” – it would be a return to the term’s true meaning.  Zionism has always been a national emancipation movement – which is why, in its modern embodiment, it appeared in a place and time replete with other such movements.

A few of the world’s national liberation movements and the approximate year of their beginning.

Our young people do not need to be taught “the Palestinian narrative” – or any ‘narrative’.  They need to be taught their people’s history.  Including Zionism, Israel and their history.

Do we do this?  Let’s listen to Ms. Miller:

[F]rankly, the ‘Israel education’ I received (if I can even call it an education) was appalling.  In Year 12 we watched Entebbe the movie, had one lecture on the War of Independence and another on Theodore Herzl.

Most Jewish parents send their children to Jewish schools simply because they want them to continue to be Jews.  Zionism should be an essential part of teaching them Jewishness – if nothing else, because without proud, unequivocal Zionism, they (or their own children) will not remain Jews.  If concepts like ‘nation’ and ‘nation state’ are ‘old school’, religion is something that belongs in the Middle Ages and ‘multiculturalism’ is the only alternative to Nazism – what, then, is the meaning of being a Jew?  For Yachad activists, Jewishness is a variety of socialism ‘decorated’ with the occasional Hebrew term and the odd ritual twisted out of context and meaning.  But most Jews don’t want to be socialists and most socialists don’t really like Jews.

It follows that it is not Yachad who should be ‘in charge’ of ‘educating about the conflict’ – it should be people or organisations that are proudly, unequivocally Zionist.  Yachad activists are entitled to their opinions and – as long as they find enough rich donors to fund their socialism – can ply their ideological merchandise like everybody else, in the free market of ideas.

That does not mean that we must teach myths or ‘beautify’ Zionism in any way.  It does not need beautifying.  National emancipation movements are necessary and – overall – good, progressive, desirable phenomena.  They fulfil essentially-human aspirations such as freedom and meaning to life.  But they are not – and never have been – perfect, faultless, ‘sans peur et sans reproche’.  They all caused great elation and also much pain.  They all reached for the skies with hands that were sometimes tainted with blood.  It is only when Jews are involved that some people tend to focus unduly on the imperfections that plague every human endeavour; when they attempt to turn vicissitudes of history into all-encompassing moral indictments.  It is only with Jews that some people want to visit the sins of the fathers on the sons; and to turn back the clock of history in the name of a ‘justice’ never before heard of, let alone practiced.

Indians proudly celebrate their independence – and so they should.  That that independence also involved bloodshed, displacement and suffering is well-known.  That fact shouldn’t be denied or concealed; nor should it be thrown in Indians’ faces at every opportunity; nor should it be used to contest the legitimacy of their country, or their right to enjoy it in peace and develop it as they see fit.

No, we should not (nor do we need to) teach a Zionist ‘narrative’; the truth, with its spots of bright light and oppressive darkness, with its beautiful aspirations and its harsh realities – the naked truth should be good enough.

What our young people need to hear is that truth, neither beautified nor maliciously twisted, but placed in its true context.  Every nation on the face of the earth has done things it should not be proud of; Jews, too – though perhaps less than most.  Yet every nation is proud of its heritage, its history, its culture, its homeland; Jews certainly should be – perhaps more than most.

4 comments:

  1. Another excellent article Noru. Bravo!

    Sydney J. Ashkelon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bonnie Prince Charlie2 October 2021 at 10:53

    An excellent response. Many thanks. Such a shame that we harbour so many Israel-haters in our ranks. They're the intellectual descendents of the Jews who supported the Nazis in Germany and antisemites elsewhere in the 1930s.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very amazing why riots ever happen in Gaza and I ithink only lesson to be learned remember what Christ said about Jerusalem and eastern gate was shut until when they will say blessed be who comes inthe name of the Lord.

    ReplyDelete

 
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