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Israel students forced to pass government propaganda course before overseas school trips

Students are seen during a lesson at Jub El-Thib village of Bethlehem, in West Bank on September 10, 2017. [Mamoun Wazwaz - Anadolu Agency]
Students are seen during a lesson at Jub El-Thib village of Bethlehem, in West Bank on September 10, 2017. [Mamoun Wazwaz - Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli government is compelling high school students to pass an online propaganda course before being allowed to participate in overseas class trips, a course promoting “racist ideology”.

Legal rights centre Adalah has written to the Education Ministry demanding an immediate halt to the online courses, after a school in Nazareth cancelled an exchange programme to Sweden, rather than have its students sit the course.

According to Adalah, the “mandatory online course” created by Israeli education authorities “requires students to watch a series of videos after which they must take a multiple-choice exam, the correct answers of which promote racist ideology”.

One question, for example, asks: “How do Palestinian organisations use digital social networks?” The correct answer is: “encouraging violence”.

Another question asks students to identify the origins of modern anti-Semitism, with the correct answer being “Muslim organisations” and the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

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The online course tells students that “anti-Semitism in Europe increased with the immigration of Muslims to Europe… from the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan.”

“The course presents a racist ideological perspective that creates an equivalence between Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim identities and violence and terrorism,” said Adalah.

“Palestinian Arab high school students in the Israeli school system are being asked by this exam to assimilate its racist values.”

Adalah attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi has now sent a letter to the Education Ministry on behalf of the Masar Association and the parents of children studying at the association’s Nazareth school.

According to Adalah, “the school cancelled its annual student exchange mission to Sweden during the academic year, after the ministry’s regulations went into effect, as it refused to allow its students to sit for such an exam which promotes racist propaganda.”

In the letter, Adalah demands that the ministry “immediately cancel the mandatory course and exam and allow students to freely participate in overseas school trips with the start of the 2019-2020 school year.”

“[Palestinian Arab teenagers] are being forced to internalise humiliating statements about themselves and their families”, said Attorney Shehadeh-Zoabi. “This is outrageous and illegal.”

“Adalah will take all necessary steps to abolish this course that is repugnantly offensive to Arab citizens and students,” she added.

READ: Israel detains 7 Palestinian students 

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