Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Racism in the Jewish State?

I recently came across the following 'internal message' from an educational organization, to all of its teachers that is based in Israel. (I have removed any direct references to the educational organization and its teachers).

It is important to keep in mind, that one can see from the message below how powerful a tool / weapon education can be; how it can be wielded to further particular interests and ideologies. It can be used for both worthy and for less worthy ends. I will leave it to the reader to determine what is happening in this particular instance.
An Awkward Situation – Racism

Dear Teachers,

Yesterday, I was at our Karmiel **** (learning center) in Israel. ****, who is an **** teacher and part-time secretary there, told me that there had been a nasty situation where, after an **** demo, one parent said that she didn't want the children "to learn two new languages only English". She meant when asked that she didn't want Arabic-speaking infants in the group.

In Karmiel, all our groups are multi-racial. It's great, and it's normal. The mother asked if they could have a "private group". **** hadn't given in to this mother, who left taking another 3 parents + children with her. This same mother contacted a different **** teacher who reacted the same way as ****.

I suggested that we offer the parent a private group if she can bring 7 or 8 children to sign up for a year, the price is the same. If there are 6 or under students, the parents will pay extra per month according to the size of the group.

My reasons for suggesting this are the following:

Commercial: it's a business.

Social Education: these kids and parents will meet other races in the LC while waiting for lessons, at the end of year party etc. It is important for social integration.

Emotional education: the children will meet the finer emotions in the content and music of ****. It will influence them and their parents to be more open, less fearful and happier.

English Education: the children will learn another language and open up to world culture and different ways of thinking.

I hope these parents will sign up and will relax to be more accepting and understanding. I don't see that anyone gains anything by rejecting them out-of-hand. I am hoping for a win-win situation.

A few thoughts:

Is this mother a racist for wanting her child, in the Jewish State of Israel, to only have Jewish students in their class?

Would it be considered racism to insist that a Jew only marry another Jew?

Perhaps the whole idea of a Jewish State can be considered racist by the standards of this educational organization?

After all, living in a multi-racial society is "great" and "normal". If only parents like the one mentioned above would be "less fearful", and more "understanding", then perhaps we could finally achieve peace.

Of course, that would mean throwing away all meaningful aspects of one's Jewish identity, both on the individual level, as well as national one, but, hey, it's better than being called a "racist", right?

As I see it, it seems like this mother could teach this educational organization a thing or two... about what it means to be Jewish, and what it means to live in a Jewish State.


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