While Israel tries to portray a friendly face to the outside world, internally it is promoting racism and violence at levels that are more alarming than ever before. A course to prepare young high school students traveling overseas to be good “ambassadors” stands in contrast to racist policies and the advancement of a military that is encouraged to exercise unprecedented violence against civilians.
Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, recently demanded that the Israeli Education Ministry halt an online course that was designed to prepare young Israelis traveling abroad to be “good ambassadors.” The content, particularly regarding anti-semitism and BDS (the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement), is so offensive to Arabs and Muslims that a school in Nazareth canceled an exchange program for high school students from the city to go to Sweden, rather than having the students exposed to the content of the course.
To actually see the content of the course, one has to enroll, and so I did. The course has 12 chapters, starting with an introduction by former Minister of Education Naftali Bennett. Bennett begins by explaining “what is an ambassador,” and then gives examples of how to be a good one.
Bennett’s introduction is friendly, straightforward and full of praise for Israel. He provides students with tools with which they can “explain” Israel. For example:
If it wasn’t for Israel, you could never wake up in the morning, because the chip in your cell phone that works as an alarm is made in Israel. You couldn’t find your way to work because the application WAZE is an Israeli product, so you’d get lost. If you made it to work somehow you wouldn’t have a computer because Intel produces its parts in Israel, and then your account would be hacked because cyber security is made in Israel. On top of that, you would have no cucumbers to eat because Israel invented the irrigation systems that make it possible to grow cucumbers.”
Bennett also mentions that the students may encounter people saying crazy things about Israel like that it is an “apartheid state,” and that Israeli soldiers are killing Palestinians, and that, of course, this is all nonsense.