Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Did You Learn In School Today? A Clarification

This, from Ira Kerem, about yesterday's post. I thought I should simply run it in full.

Bernie –
Thanks for writing this. There is one major and one minor detail that I would change in your article. The first is that I told you that Jewish parents might be taking their children out because of a fear of inter-dating but I said that this was speculation and that there were many other stated reasons and not just one possible reason. The reasons that the students and parents have told us include: a very small social network in each class which makes it difficult for kids who wish to cultivate many friendships or those who might have trouble finding other kids with whom they feel really comfortable; a lack of “major” specialty subjects which big schools can offer their students; no record yet that the kids do well in the all important matriculation exams since they have only had one and that in English until now, and the very wide choice of specialized high schools in the Jewish sector offering outstanding programs in music, art, science, academics, etc. which entice many parents and students. My speculation does not deserve to be the only reason given why Jewish pupils drop out of our school.

The second item is that I work for Hand in Hand, the non-profit organization that runs a network of four bilingual, multicultural, Arab-Jewish integrated schools on the basis of equality and mutual understanding and respect. I do not work for only the Jerusalem school. We have over 900 students in our four schools and we are working to open a new school next year in Haifa. We would like to offer parents a choice where their children can learn that the “other” does not have to be considered the enemy and in fact can become a “friend”, where the culture and the language of the “other” can be understood and appreciated, and even where one side does not have to force its view on the other side. The schools are created because enough parents believe in this vision and enough individuals, foundations, federations, synagogues, churches, organizations, and governments from Israel and abroad can share this vision. We welcome any support that your readers might offer.

All the best,
Ira


Also, the following came in from 'Hand in Hand' Executive Director, Sam Shube:

Just writing compliment you on your thoughtful blog entry on Hand in Hand. I've been CEO of the organization for close to two years. It's a job that never stops forcing me to rethink my assumptions about Israeli society. I also thought you might want to take a look at my own blog, of which several entries are about Hand in Hand.
http://mycorrectviewsoneverything.blogspot.com/
Specifically, "Couscous on Tuesdays" June 15 2009
"From Qufr Qara to Meah Shearim on Holocause Day" April 22 2009
"From Jaffa to Jerusalem on Israel's 60th" May 2008

Brachot/Tahiyati (blessings),

Sam Shube
Executive Director
Hand in Hand

10 comments:

Y. Ben-David said...

Some years ago, there was a lot of media coverage of a joint Jewish-Arab village called Neveh Shalom near Latrun. I recall driving past it once and seeing station wagons-full of no doubt well-meaning "progressive" people coming to visit this interesting sociological "experiment". In recent years we stopped hearing about the place, I don't know if it even exists anymore. I do recall several incidents ocurring there. One was when one of the Jewish boys serving in the IDF was killed IIRC in the helicopter crash in Lebanon in the late 1990's. The Jewish residents wanted to have a memorial ceremony. The Arabs objected that it would be offensive to them so the Jews dropped it. I also recall them asking one of the Jews how they resolve conflicts of this sort and he replied they work out fine since the Jews usually capitulated to the Arab demands in deference to their "sensitivities".

So how do these things work out in the "Hand in Hand" school? Do they commemorate IDF memorial day and Israel Indepedence Day? Do the Jewish kids eat in front of the Muslims during the Ramadan fast? Are the Arabs willing to take into account Jewish sensitivities, at least on some occasions? While many Jewish parents might be like Bernie and welcome intermarriage, do Arab parents want their daughters to become friendly with Jewish boys since Islam forbids marriages of Muslim women with non-Muslim men? Many "family honor killings" have been carried out over this matter so I don't know how many Arab parents want this kind of thing. Many people in the world are not as "progressive" as Bernie and his friends. So how is all this going to work out in the long run? Is it going to work out like it did Bernie's "cosmopolitan Viennese Jews" who, as he pointed out, adopted German as their language ticket into broader "cosmopolitan" European society?

Shoded Yam said...

Arab kids and Jewish kids playing together? Studying together? What could happen?!?!?

Ghost Busters (1984)

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?

Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.

Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.

Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!

Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...

Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!

Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Potter said...

So how do these things work out in the "Hand in Hand" school? Do they commemorate IDF memorial day and Israel Indepedence Day?

Yes. And then they talk about it with each other.

Do the Jewish kids eat in front of the Muslims during the Ramadan fast?

I would say no- out of respect. And, there can be a lesson in respect and toleration around that. And there can be a conversation about Ramadan and what it means. Perhaps Jewish kids can compare a holiday of their own.

Are the Arabs willing to take into account Jewish sensitivities, at least on some occasions?

I would say yes, especially IF Jews are sensitive to their needs. Why not?

“While many Jewish parents might be like Bernie and welcome intermarriage, do Arab parents want their daughters to become friendly with Jewish boys since Islam forbids marriages of Muslim women with non-Muslim men? Many "family honor killings" have been carried out over this matter so I don't know how many Arab parents want this kind of thing.”

Many parents may not- but some may tolerate it if they see their children happy in such a relationship. People don’t have to send their kids to such a school if they do not want contact. But the kids may actually want it and demand it, feeling choked by the walls around them.

Many people in the world are not as "progressive" as Bernie and his friends. So how is all this going to work out in the long run? Is it going to work out like it did Bernie's "cosmopolitan Viennese Jews" who, as he pointed out, adopted German as their language ticket into broader "cosmopolitan" European society?

There is always the holocaust to rear up. Fear. It’s all about fear with you Y.B-D.

Y. Ben-David said...

Potter-
I would rather call it "experience".

Shoded Yam said...

You ever meet these guys who sit around all day farting out hot air and pontifications, all the while demanding tribute to their 50 years of "experience", when the "experience" in question amounts to nothing more than one game of pocket pool played 50 times over?

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Y. Ben-David said...

I went to the school's web site and watched their advertising blurb. It appears that those who run the school are aware of at least some of the problems I mentioned. I should point out that I think it is very important that ALL Jewish kids in Israel SHOULD learn Arabic, it is the language of this part of the world, so I do support their goals in this area at least.
What I find interesting is that they say they do NOT view the goal of their school to be some sort of melting pot, but they want the kids to be exposed to the culture and religion of the "other side" and, they claim, by doing this, to strengthen the childs own cultural and religious identity. In theory this is nice, but I don't know how much education the Jewish kids are really going to get out of this school...the secular Jewish school system does little more than teach a little about the Jewish holidays and supposed "Jewish values", so this school, which spends considerable time teaching the "other's" culture and religion will spend even less on the Jewish component.
They also pointed out that they don't view themselves as being a prototype of a mass Israeli school system...rather they want to turn out the future "leadership". I don't know how this jibes with Bernie's dreamed-ofHebrew Republic" because entrepeneurs, politicians and philosophers have different values and different goals and since Bernie is always emphasizing the "entrepeneural elite" as being the key to his hoped-for de-Judaizing of Israel, it is unclear if graduates of this school will want to spend their time making money, or influencing public opinion, or running for public office of sitting in an ivory tower and writing articles. Time will tell.

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