"During my last few weeks of my senior year, my classmates and I gathered in the library for an Israel advocacy presentation. We were told that we were being prepared for college, because on college campuses, people hate Israel, and where people hate Israel, people hate Jews. We were told that in order to combat anti semitism, we must first combat anti-Israel sentiment. We watched “Beneath the Helmet,” a film that explores the “personal lives, dreams, fears, and dilemmas, revealing the human side of Israel’s military and the inspiring young people who make up the IDF”. As I watched the soldiers on screen, I thought back to my last experience in Israel, when I myself dressed up as an Israeli soldier and was taught to shoot a rifle. I was told I was protecting my people, continuing the tradition of my religion. What I wasn’t taught was there was a military occupation of Palestinian land, and that the “inspiring” soldiers in the video were the ones enforcing it. I wasn’t taught the truth, and I definitely wasn’t prepared for college that fall.
During the last few weeks of my senior year, I was student teaching in a fifth grade class at my former elementary school. That fifth grade class, now juniors in high school, just departed for their semester in Israel on the same program on which I had gone. I can only hope it has changed. Hope, however, is not enough. We need to change the way Israel is taught in schools. We need to criticize hasbara and teach the truth. That Yom Haatzmaut was a Nakba for Palestinians. That the day we were “given” a land was the day another nation lost theirs. That there is a darkness to the beauty and wonder that is the State of Israel. That we, as American Jews, are complicit in the occupation of Palestine and it is up to us to change that." -Sara Abramson, Alexander Muss High School in Israel, Barrack Hebrew Academy, Perelman Jewish Day School