our Israel education was never considered political

"I'm an alum of both Orthodox and Conservative Jewish day schools. My schools put a huge amount of time and resource into Israel education. They took us on trips to Israel to tour, study, and learn about its history in the hopes that a connection to Israel would become foundational to our Jewish identities. They urged us to go to college as advocates to defend Israel.

But in my 11 years of Jewish day school, we were never educated about the plight of Palestinians living under a decades-long military occupation. We never learned Palestinian narratives. We were taught that words like nakba, and the history behind them, were unacceptable. When we did learn about Palestinians, it was often in a racist and dehumanizing way that peddled dangerous stereotypes. 

Our Israel education was never considered political — it was just seen as an average and important part of Jewish education. But it's inherently political — and an intentional choice — to teach about Israel in a way that erases the narratives and experiences of Palestinians, and that refuses to acknowledge the occupation.

Going to college and learning about the occupation for the first time made me reflect back on my 11 years of Jewish education with sadness and anger, realizing that our Israel education had been misleading and one-sided. Our Jewish schools want to teach us that tikkun olam, healing the world, is one of our deepest core values as Jewish people— but if they believe in tikkun olam, then they're obligated to teach us to fight for the human rights of Palestinians who have been living under the daily nightmare of occupation for 50 years -Kayla, Solomon Schechter Westchester, Bi-Cultural Day School

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