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The Only Democracy? » Human Rights Activists in the Crosshairs » Bereaved Families for Peace Shut Out of Israeli High School

Bereaved Families for Peace Shut Out of Israeli High School

by Jesse Bacon

One of the most inspiring groups working to end the conflict is the Bereaved Families for Peace, which as their name implies is made up of Israelis and Palestinians who have lost their children to violence and who work together to end the conflict.  As a parent, their work hits me extra hard I hope I will have their courage and that I will never need it. I was excited to read they are doing programs in high schools, and horrified to see a parent’s group got the school to block them from coming.

Alon High School in Ramat Hasharon. Photo by: Nir Kedar

Alon High School in Ramat Hasharon is refusing to allow an organization that promotes Israeli-Palestinian dialogue to operate there. According to students and teachers, opposition to the group, the Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace, has come from the school’s parents’ committee.

Why would any parents group raise an objection, and why would a school go along with it?

Students report that the principal at Alon, Yehuda Yaakovson, has said the school aims to raise the rate of students who serve in the Israel Defense Forces and that inviting the Israeli-Palestinian organization could damage this. Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar also seeks to increase the rate of army enlistment as a goal of the education system.

According to the Ramat Hasharon municipality, ‘This will be reflected in its high ranking, seventh in the country, in the numbers for completing an officers course, a pilots course, and in the numbers for serving in quality positions in the IDF.”

So, if students are confronted with the fact that people sometimes die as a result of violence, Palestinian and Israeli alike, they won’t enlist? These twelth graders face the choice of either becoming Shministim, draft resisters, find some quieter way to avoid service, or mandatory service in an occupying army. They deserve to hear from the people affected by their military’s actions.  The last word, as far as I am concerned comes from the student quoted in the article.

According to one 12th grader at the school, ‘the parents, and it seems the school, too, are apparently trying to protect us, but this really is censorship. We are big enough children to form our opinions by ourselves.'”

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JESSE BACON (Philadelphia) is a freelance activist and father. He has a Masters in teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is an observant progressive Jew, and is trying to be a good ally for Palestinians and all dispossessed peoples, while staying true to the best traditions in Judaism. He visited Israel and Palestine in 1996, 2001, and 2002. He served for three years on the local steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and one year on the board of Pursue the Peace in Seattle. Read his posts here.

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