Thursday, November 26, 2020

Israel requires students to pass "propaganda" course before overseas trips

By Patty Diphusa - July 11, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Education]

Israeli authorities are demanding both Arab and Jewish high school students to pass an online course, deemed as “racist ideology”, prior to embarking on exchange programs abroad.

The course has been presented under the name of “Hasbara” (Hebrew name for Israeli Public Diplomacy) and encourages students to be “ambassadors of Israel” as reported by the Times of Israel.

The online course expects students to watch a series of videos after which they must finish a multiple choice exam.

This requirement for students who wish to pursue educational exchange programs has been deemed as racist by the Legal Center for Arab Minorities Rights in Israel, Adalah. 

Adalah translated some of the questions presented to students after analysing the videos. 

For example, one question asks: “How do Palestinian organisations use digital social networks?” The correct answer in the test is “encouraging violence”.

Another question requires students to identify the origins of modern anti-Semitism. The two correct answers under the course’s regulations are: “Muslim organisations” and the “BDS movement”. 

The Masar Institute for Education, a school based in Nazareth, cancelled its annual student exchange delegation to Sweden as the institute refused to force their pupils to undergo an exam that propagates a “racist ideology”. Over 25 Arab-Israeli students take part in the exchange program every year.

Attorney of Adalah, Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi presented a letter to the Israeli Education Ministry on 18 June as a representative of the association of the Masar Institute and their students and parents, demanding to eliminate the compulsory measure.

In the letter, Adalah denounced that the “propaganda exam focuses on core issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that are the subject of deep political controversy, and students are required to choose specific 'correct' positions, as though they reflect an objective factual truth.” 

“The course presents a racist ideological perspective that creates an equivalence between Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim identities and violence and terrorism”. Adalah attorney added that “this is especially grave for Palestinian Arab teenagers who, with this exam, are being forced to internalise humiliating statements about themselves and their families”.

In interview with The Media Line, Shehadeh-Zoabi stated that “children are not meant to be state agents of propaganda, and this program is actually illegal. By imposing this mandatory course on high school students, Israeli authorities are forcing Palestinian Arab kids both to internalise racist anti-Arab values and to spread racist ideology to others”.

Adalah suggested that the courses violate Israel’s Education Law which requires “consideration of the uniqueness of the Arab minority, citizens of Israel, recognising its language, culture, and heritage”.

Adalah has demanded the ministry to respond to their letter within 30 days.

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