Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Matter of Education

General Gaby Ashkenazi, the IDF Chief of Staff, made a speech in a conference of school principals and sharply criticized the kind of education which new soldiers entering into the army's ranks are bringing with them. "We get young people who have not learned about the State of Israel, its heritage and its landscape. A third of the soldiers have never in their lives visited Jerusalem until we in the army arranged for them a visit. And there are soldiers who think that Massada is a place which we conquered in 1967! This is not funny".

No, it is not funny. And one might note several more substantial flaws in the education provided by Israeli schools in our time. Flaws which the Chief of Staff somehow failed to mention. Young people who finish school and get to the army without the educational system having instilled in them basic values of human dignity and human rights, without their becoming truly aware that all human beings are equal and were all "created in the shape of God". Young people who put on a uniform and get in their hands a gun and the power to kill – without anybody having ever explained to them what are manifestly illegal orders, on which the black flag of illegality flies. Orders which a soldier is not allowed to disobey, but is legally bound to disobey. Certainly, the young people get to the recruitment bureau and beyond, without having ever learned what is the Fourth Geneva Convention (of which Israel was among the first signatories), so they even don’t know what is permitted - and what isn't - to the soldiers of an occupying power.

Had the education system in the state of Israel done its job, to truly educate the young people facing military service, the Goldstone Report might have a been a lot thinner.