Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trouble with the children of Israel

During the years when peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were a live hope, I recall periodic bloodcurdling stories about the indoctrination of children on the West Bank, inciting hatred of Israel and antisemitism.  A far-from-disinterested but well documented precis (dated 2001) is here.

Now comes disturbing news from the other side of the divide -- not of systematic indoctrination, but of a progressive hardening of attitudes after decades of war. From the Jerusalem Post:
A new Ma’agar Mohot poll has produced somewhat disturbing findings regarding the attitudes of Jewish Israeli schoolchildren about Arab Israelis.

According to the poll, taken among 536 15-18-year-olds, 50 percent of Jewish Israeli schoolchildren believe that Arab Israelis should not be granted rights equal to their Jewish counterparts.

Furthermore, 56 percent of Jewish Israeli schoolchildren surveyed said Arab Israelis should be prevented from running for Knesset, while 50% of the Jewish youngsters who defined themselves as religious said they believe the “Death to Arabs” slogan was legitimate.

The Minister for Minority affairs expresses distress, but also unwittingly frames the perhaps unresolvable paradox of a democracy that places a premium on ethnic/religious identity: 
....Avishai Braverman called the results of the survey “most severe.”

“I believe that it’s the result of ignorance and a campaign of incitement that has been with us a long time,” he said, calling for “meaningful” educational activities to allow the different ethnic communities in Israel to better understand each other. “We came here to set up a Jewish state, but it’s also a state for all its citizens."
Well, that's an interesting idea, but I don't know whether people in the region will go for it.

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