Last week, controversy broke out in Israel over the education ministry’s attempt to stop high-school principals from inviting representatives of Breaking the Silence—an organization that disseminates flimsy allegations of IDF “war crimes”—to speak to their students. Yoaz Hendel explains why the high-school principals are in the wrong:
The main argument made by principals who wish to let the organization’s representatives speak to their students is the freedom to listen to different opinions. That’s an important argument, but it [does not apply to primary and secondary] education. . . . Why? Because, before learning about complicated things, one must learn about simple things. Before making bridges and rafters, foundations must be laid. When I send my kids to school, I want a Zionist education that encourages them to join the army, contribute, be good citizens, and mainly to feel that they are right. . . .
[Most of Breaking the Silence’s activities are licit] in a democratic state with full freedom of speech, but why [allow them in] the educational system? Are high-school students deeply familiar with the Zionist story? Do they understand what the pioneers sought to create here? Do they know the meaning of an exemplary society, of the orchards planted by the pioneers, which created thousands of jobs for the Arabs in the area? Do they know about the Zionist effort at co-existence and about the bloody response on the Arab side?
There is no reason to fear claims against Israel and its policies. Everyone here will [eventually encounter such claims]. But in the meantime, let teenagers grow up in peace; let them be right. This is a right which is as important as the freedom of political organizations like Breaking the Silence to criticize us.