One of Brian’s Favorite Quotes
Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.”
— Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964)
Opinion: Academic Pluralism?
The Israeli Education Ministry’s initiative, announced in March 2011, to fund educational tours of Hevron, has become the target of harsh criticism from the radical Left.
The program aims to educate students, from both religious and national schools, about their heritage by taking them on tours of the area.
Over 200 teachers signed a petition, refusing to take part in such school trips, declaring that, “introducing the program to schools is a manipulative use of pupils and teachers, who will be forced to become political pawns.” The teachers contend that since they are “dedicated to education, [their] conscience prevents [them] from becoming agents of such a policy.”
Apparently, educational programs that seek to provide an alternative to the anti-Israel and post-Zionist agendas that have become prevalent and popular in educational circles are now considered “manipulative” and coerce teachers into becoming “political pawns.” It seems that learning about Hevron and even considering the fact that the Jewish people have deep historical ties to the area, is simply blasphemous.
Hevron is the city in which the Patriarch Abraham when he came to the Holy Land over 4000 years ago. It was there that he purchased the area of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in order to bury his wife, Sarah. King David ruled in Hevron for seven years until he conquered Jerusalem and made it the City of David. Jews lived in Hevron until 1929, when their Arab neighbors staged a brutal pogrom. The city was restored to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and its Jewish community revived.
The petition continues to state that, “the educational system is under attack by extremist political forces, aiming to trade education for indoctrination. We won’t allow that to happen.”
The above statement is certainly true. The educational system is, in fact, “under attack by extremist political forces, aiming to trade education for indoctrination.” It has been proven, even admitted by the Council for Higher Education, that there is severe bias in certain academic circles and university campuses.
In fact, a report commissioned by the Israeli Council for Higher Education (ICHE) to evaluate the political science and international relations departments at Israeli universities, was published in 2011, and said of Ben Gurion University’s political science department that it is “concerned that the study of politics as a scientific discipline may be impeded by such strong emphasis on political activism”. On August 20, 2011, Prof. Neve Gordon, of Ben Gurion University, published an op-ed in the LA Times supporting a boycott of Israel and calling it an apartheid state.
Radical Leftist factions of society, adhering to an anti-Zionist and post-Zionist ideologies, are a dominant force in the realm of academia limiting, and often silencing, dissenting student opinions. Educators and teachers, at an increasing rate, voice the belief that Zionism is a form of colonialism, that Israel is an apartheid state, and endorse movements like Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), all of which aim at completely de-legitimizing and demonizing Israel in the eyes of the international community.
Haaretz’s Talila Nesher proudly proclaimed that, “for the first time in Israel’s history, more than 200 teachers signed a letter declaring that they would refuse to participate in an Education Ministry program to take pupils on ‘heritage tours’ in Hebron.”
Luckily, though, there are still advocates on behalf of the Jewish people. Education Minister, Gideon Sa’ar rightly stated, “it’s to the discredit of the education system that this hasn’t happened in the last 40 years.”
Academia prides itself on “intellectual pluralism” and “freedom of expression,” only, apparently, not when it comes to teaching about Zionism. If education is meant to broader students’ horizons and expose them to different opinions, views and beliefs, why, then, do teachers, the very individuals who are supposed to espouse such ideals, seek to silence dissenting opinions?