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Bennett's 'Practical' Way to Impose Religious Views on Secular Schools

Shattering the universal dimension in education is a pretty good recipe for increasing the gaps between the different groups that make up Israeli society.

Between a prime minister who declares that there are no educational problems in the outlying areas and that “we have to teach bible” to establish “the justness of our being here,” and an education minister who is trying to impose a national-religious world view on the secular schools while preaching toward “more practical” instruction, education itself has been left orphaned.
Education that isn’t enslaved to external objectives, that promotes curiosity and expanding one’s knowledge, could promote what is now considered by senior Education Ministry officials as irrelevant – learning something new, questioning existing perceptions, broadening for a few magical moments one’s understanding of the surrounding reality. The Education Ministry of recent years sees this as dangerous. It’s hard to think of a more serious educational sin.
The sanctification of “practicality,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s version of Culture Minister Miri Regev’s “cut the bullshit,” is a deceptive move. It is not touted with such enthusiasm in the other parts of the system under Bennett’s auspices, like the ultra-Orthodox and state-religious sectors. Those systems can continue to manage themselves as they see fit, with maximum autonomy and generous budgets. According to Bennett, what needs fixing is primarily in the state (secular) system and somewhat less so in the Arab ones. This is the primary arena in which the ministry is flexing its muscles.
The question is not whether a five-point matriculation exam in math or knowing how to write an email in English is important, but the educational and ethical range made available to the pupils. Bennett, like many before him, is subjugating education to other purposes – nationalist, political and others notions taken from the business world. In such an unfair and unworthy contest, education will always lose.
Supporters of the notion that the failures of the education system can be attributed to management problems tend to be impressed by the “practical” approach advocated by Bennett, a former high-tech executive. But that’s a hollow perception; one cannot talk about management, which is only ostensibly objective, divorced from questions of values and world views and the division of resources. This is not a theoretical issue. According to a senior Education Ministry official, the ministry has raised the option of reducing its supervision in strong cities like Ra’anana, Herzliya and Modi’in. “We don’t have to tell places like that how to manage their municipal education system,” said the source. “If we can yield control, the principals will soar. The people in the field know best.”
Not surprisingly, a similar argument was made for the changes in the management of the “culture basket.” In both cases, the magic of autonomy – tailored to the needs of the strong schools and wealthy cities – hides an effort to privatize and shirk responsibility for the pupils and their needs, for their exposure to different cultural performances, for the act of educating. Shattering the universal dimension in education is a pretty good recipe for increasing the gaps between the different groups that make up Israeli society.
And indeed, the statistics the ministry released Wednesday show that these gaps are only growing. During the 2013-14 academic year, a Jewish student from the weakest socioeconomic background still got 68 percent more funding than his Arab counterpart, while in the following year the gap grew to 73 percent. This is an incredible gap, one that begins in elementary school and continues on. It fixes generations of students in an integrally inferior position. To change this will require the Education Ministry to do a lot more than it has done until now.
Whether consciously or not, highlighting “efficiency” diverts attention from the national-religious agenda Bennett is promoting, and that applies, once again, primarily to secular education. Among the expressions of this was the removal of the book “Borderlife” from the high-school reading list on grounds it promotes miscegenation; expanding Jewish identity studies in the secular schools and substantially increasing the budgets of Orthodox groups operating in this area (while freezing the budgets promised to pluralistic groups); further strengthening the Masa Yisraeli program operated by MiBreishit, a national-religious NGO, and reduced funding for Arab teacher training.
But not for a single moment was there any doubt about what Bennett and his minions were doing with regard to the new civics textbook. Here everything was clear and in the open – from the decision not to include Arabs in its writing through dividing the Arabs into subgroups based, inter alia, on their feelings about military and national service; through disregard for secularism and the secular public compared to the honor accorded religious Zionism, and the dwarfing of the universal-democratic dimension in favor of particularistic, religious aspects. It’s not for nothing the Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer, vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute, recently wrote that anyone committed to a humanistic world view “must oppose the use of the inferior, awful textbook.”

Or Kashti
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.739687Schermata 2016 09 04 alle 23.49.47

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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