Tuesday, 26 October 2010

History students fight to use textbook presenting both Israeli and Palestinian narratives - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

History students fight to use textbook presenting both Israeli and Palestinian narratives - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Please read this article - yet again I see a story that reinforces my hope in a peaceful future in Israel. The fact that school students, supported by their teachers and school, are demanding a more balanced history text book is so heartening. The fact that these students are in a school in Sderot - yes that town whose name has been used to justify so much - is doubly heartening.

Aron Rothstein, Principal at Sha'ar HaNegev school in Sderot where students are demanding a more balanced teaching of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Thursday, 21 October 2010


While reading the Crazy Country blog recently I came across this quote from Yitzhak Rabin taken from a TV interview from a few days before his assassination on 1st November 1995. I thought it tied together my two recent blog posts nicely...

- Host: Mr. Prime Minister, your government relies for its parliamentary majority on the vote of Arab Knesset Members. Also in order to approve the Oslo II Agreement you relied on such a majority. How do you answer those who say that a government which relies on Arabs is not legitimate?

- Yitzhak Rabin: (angrily) Anyone who says that is a racist.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Yitzhak Rabin - Z"L

As darkness fell last night, the Hebrew anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin began. As we drove up towards Rabin Square we saw many young Israelis from the scouting movement at a ceremony. Today's Yediot Aharonot newspaper has a special supplement commemorating Rabin that I have begun to read (slowly - it is in Hebrew after all). One article interviews four young Israelis who were born on the day that Rabin was assassinated. It was interesting to get their persepctive on the man and his death.

How and for what do we remember Yitzhak Rabin?
Their comments ranged from "I am not especially sad on this day because despite everything, it's my birthday" (Avi Cohen, Tel Aviv)  to the perhaps more thoughtful "It's strange to me to look at photos and see how everyone was in shock and I had just come into the world on that day" (Danielle Levi, Kibbutz Geveram). One of the young interviewees is an Arab Israeli who lives in Haifa. His revelation was the most surprising. He noted that "At school we never speak about him [Rabin] and not on the anniversary of his death. I know, because it happened on the day I was born, but my friends don't know anything about this date."

This statement has made me sad for the peace that Rabin, despite his faults and the problems of the Oslo Accords, tried to bring to his country, to all Israelis not just the Jewish ones. I am convinced that it will be the people, not the politicians, who will build the lasting peace, whenever that may be. And I also believe that it will have to start in the schools, so that the younger generations will know each other and begin to recognise each other more through being educated together.

There are a few projects (Neve Shalom, Givat Haviva for example) that have begun to educate young Jewish and Arab Israelis together, so it is possible. And admirable. And necessary.

Yitzhak Rabin Z"L - rest in peace, and may there be peace


Sunday, 17 October 2010

Give me strength...

I even went for a run this morning!

Energy seems to have been the theme of the last few days, what with me and Mark both running around like a couple of headless chickens after Roni. I honestly don't know where she gets her energy from.

However, 'energy' is 'Meretz' in Hebrew, and Meretz is of course the liberal, dovish left-wing political party in Israel. I have always thought that when I made aliyah I would be voting for Meretz. Of course I first started to think about making aliyah in the days when Meretz had influence in government. After all, when I first considered aliyah in the 1990s, my (distant) cousin and Meretz founder Shulamit Aloni had only fairly recently stepped down from her post as Education Minister in Rabin's government. Fifteen-odd years and an intifada later and things are vastly different today. Meretz is increasingly sidelined in Israeli politics and with it the voice of the left wing, peaceloving Israelis.

Until, it seems, the other night when driving into Tel Aviv, Mark and I were wondering why the traffic was so heavy. Of course, heavy traffic is not strange for Tel Aviv, even on a Shabbat evening, so perhaps we shouldn't have bothered wondering.... Anyway, out wonderings were soon answered as we drove down Kaplan St we saw a procession of a few thousand people, demonstrating against a new policy that has recently been backed by the governmnet: the notion that all Arab- and non-Jewish Israeli citizens should pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state.

I am proud to report to you that democracy is alive and well in Israel as demonstrators shouted "Lieberman, Lieberman, gam facist ve gam gizan!" ("Lieberman, Lieberman, a facist and a racist!") and held placards declaring that "Jews and Arabs will not be enemies!"

I am not so naive as to think that this demonstration will reverse the political tide whereby Israel is moving ever more to the right, but I am so relieved that people are noticing this disturbing pattern and mobilising and doing something about it. A recent Ha'aretz article I read in this weekend's Herald Tribune supplement bemoaned the apathy of modern liberal 'Tel Avivi types' who care more about what's happening in their TV soaps than in the very real political life of Israel. I was so happy to find that there are Israelis who are truly awake to what's happening in their own lives, and acting to do something about it. I hope that I will become one of them.

PS I was going to leave it there but when browsing for coverage of this demonstration, it is front page in Haaretz, but nowhere to be found on the BBC website, or on The Guardian or Telegraph websites, who are just covering the actions of the settlers.... just an interesting thought, I thought.......


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Helter CELTA

So despite the delay to the FYP I am charging ahead with my own preparations for life in Israel. To this end I started my CELTA (Certificate of English Language for Teachers of Adults) course a couple of weeks ago. This six month part time course will qualify me to teach English to adult learners so I feel better inasmuch as I feel that I am now doing something towards my future career opportunities in Israel.

Sitting in the first observation lesson last week took me back to my days at Ulpan at the Rothberg School in Jerusalem. I made such a lot of progress in a short space of time when I was studying in Israel, I only hope that the students I will be teaching in Hove benefit nearly as much from their language classes as I did from mine in Israel. I also realised that teaching a language was a whole new ball game to teaching history. I enjoy teaching so much, I hope that I can bring the same enthusiasm and energy to teaching English as I do in my history classroom.

Speaking of which I have a pile of history marking waiting for me on the dining room table. Even though my teaching hours are, ahem, lighter this year, as I am teaching a new GCSE specification I am teaching Russian history for the first time. I am actually quite happy about this as it is something I have studied myself and being of vaguely Russian stock (way back in the shtetl) I feel an affinity to the topic.

My final thought for this evening on teaching, learning and language, is something Roni's started saying. I often berate Mark for, among other things, switching between Hebrew and English all the time when speaking with Roni (I would rather he stuck to Hebrw as much as possible). Nonetheless, Roni has started to use the phrase 'ke zeh' ("like this") as a little add-on to her sentences - like "Swiper's so funny ke zeh" - for those of you unfamiliar with Swiper or Hebrew, Swiper is a cheeky character from Dora the Explorer (Roni's latest DVD obsession) and although she's developing a lovely chamoudi (sweet) Hebrew accent, she's using the phrase ke zeh incorrectly - but to great comic effect, making her sound like a little Yenta.

"Swiper's so funny ke zeh mummy!"

As we prepare for Israel,  I am wondering how her Hebrew will develop in the coming weeks. Last time we were there she definitely made great strides in her understanding because she was hearing different people speaking, and hearing more conversation. I hope that her speaking will develop now as I love it when she throws a bit of Hebrew into her speech. At the very least I want her to teach Aunty Lucy a couple of Hebrew nursery rhymes!

Lehitraot! xx


Monday, 4 October 2010

Support Gilad

This was recently brought to my attention by Anthony, my step dad (thanks, Anthony). As you may know from the news or from my earlier post, Gilad Shalit has been held in captivity in Gaza since 2006. His kidnap, from inside the Green Line was a major contributory factor to Israel's Gaza incursion. He is also being deined the basic human right as set out in the Geneva Convention that is contact with the International Red Cross.

Please visit the Magen David Adom website for information of how you can help get Gilad this basic contact by signing their petition.Then please tell all your friends and colleagues. Together we may just be able to do something to ease Gilad's plight.

Thank you.