(IMAGE: screenshot from The Israel Project website.) The important Israeli group New Profile, which makes clear the terrible impact militarism has on Israeli society, has this December 13 press release. As part of the ongoing assault on Israeli human rights groups, New Profile’s computers were seized by the government back in the spring. Now, dissenters are being banned from student debates. So much for free speech in a “true democracy.”
New Profile response to the Minister of Education’s directive
banning New Profile speakers from high school debates on civil rights
NEW PROFILE WRITES THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION:
THE EDUCATION SYSTEM PROMOTES VENERATION OF THE USE OF FORCE, RAMPANT FEAR AND DREAD OF A NEW HOLOCAUST
“The Minister’s decision unveils the truth behind the government’s claim to defend the values of democracy and behind the claim of the Ministry of Education to educate for tolerance.”
New Profile, the feminist movement to civil-ize Israeli society, wrote Minister of Education, Gideon Saar, this morning, strongly condemning his recent instructions to prohibit its members’ participation in high school debates convened by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on questions of human rights and freedom of expression.
New Profile wrote the minister that his act had exposed the government’s true stand on civil rights and freedom of expression, also belying the Education Ministry’s professed respect for tolerance. “The minister’s step was taken in tandem with the decision he took to send yet more military personnel into schools—a move designed to increase enthusiasm for fighting,” New Profile advised in its letter. “For over a decade now, our movement has been cautioning of the danger of ignoring the wishes of students, parents, and teachers to freely and openly discuss these subjects prior to the students’ induction into the military at age 18. The Minister’s present steps increase the repression of voices seeking to frame and examine social responsibility in non-militarized terms.”
New Profile’s letter explained that, “The perceptions transmitted by the present educational system generate an acceptance of warfare as a sound national strategy. They encourage veneration for the use of force and aggrandize Jewish nationalism, while devaluing the lives of Palestinians. At the same time, they sow rampant fear and dread of a new Holocaust. Ongoing endorsement of the use of force in combination with the consistent enhancement of nationalism and constantly fanned fears, maintain a state of war and, also, of severe social stratification and inequality. The military has long since become a normalized, daily aspect of Israeli education and upholds war as the apparent, sole solution to Israel ’s political problems. The continuous state of warfare serves as a pretext for prolonging the military occupation and seemingly excuses the state of Israel from its accountability to the Palestinian people but also, no less, its accountability to the young Israelis that it deploys to perform the occupying, policing, destruction, and terrorization.” New Profile sharply criticized the abuse of authority evident in the minister’s ban, adding that his decision silences not only New Profile but also the voice of every individual striving for a free and open civil society discourse on relations of military and society.