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Naftali Bennett currently serves as Israel’s education minister under Benjamin Netanyahu. Bennett also leads the Orthodox and right-wing Jewish Home party which won a total of 12 out of 120 possible seats Israel’s 2015 elections. When Bennett took the position of education minister the Jewish Home stated;
“Our most important task is to create a Jewish-Zionist educational unit to operate in the state of Israel’s public school system… The Jewish home will spearhead a nationalist plan to promote Jewish and Zionist identity among all students from grade 1 to grade 12.”
However this narrative fails to meet the needs of the Palestinian population who live in Israel and have Israeli citizenship. In the Jewish Home’s manifesto Palestinians have not only been sidelined but completely ignored. In fact the “nationalist plan to promote Jewish and Zionist identity” will in it’s name sake advance division among Palestinians and Israelis and degrade Palestinian identity. Despite this clear conflict of interests Bennett has stated;
“Israel’s education system is one of the most sophisticated and versatile in the world. We are challenged by a diverse population and work hard to meet the needs of all of the country’s students, whether they are Jewish or Arab, secular or religious.”
Bennett as education minister oversees the education of 2.2 million children including Palestinian children with Israeli citizenship. However what he professes in education is radically conflicting with what he proposes for peace. Bennet supports not only occupying the West Bank (which is considered illegal by the international community) but he also suggests actually annexing all Palestinian land under area C. Bennett goes further and suggests that the remaining areas independently governed by Palestinians should become isolated states, thus proposing a 12 state solution. Bennett does not stop here but assumes Israeli supremacy over these areas, indeed he believes that Palestinians have no right to any army or ultimate sovereignty. How does he justify the latter? The never-ending need for so-called Jewish security.
Finally Bennet also enthusiastically advocates the continuation of Israeli settlement consolidation in the West Bank he is oft quoted as ‘no person Palestinian or Israeli should be kicked out of his house’. A full account of Bennett’s position can be viewed in his speech he delivered to the Tomorrow’s borders of Israel panel in Jerusalem in 2012; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGS4EY0ddP0
In the last decade Israel has tried to implement a civic-curriculum this at best wavers between inclusion and exclusion and often Palestinians are side-lined. For example, electronic Intifada reports that education ministry requested that the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence be on display in both public and private schools. Schools full of children who only know of 1948 as the Nakba (disaster) when 750,000 Palestinians fled what is now Israel. In 2005 a follow up committee for the New Israeli fund reported that on average $192 was spent per Palestinian student in Israel whereas $1,100 was spent on each Jewish student. Since then various reports have all pointed towards a lack of funding, resource access and discriminatory policies all contribute to Palestinians in Israel receiving a lesser education than their Jewish Israeli counterparts. Worryingly if Naftali Bennett’s outlook towards the Palestinians and their identity is as rejectionist as his education policies then Palestinian education in Israel is in for a rough few years.
On days like these, when the latest Israeli election again demonstrates the widespread Israeli support for warmongering, racism, and apartheid. It is our opinion, that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israel is the only way to change the situation. All other strategies to ensure accountability have been tried and failed. BDS is the only way to force Israeli society to realize that the world cannot stand by and watch them excitedly continue their destruction of the entire Palestinian nation.