Israeli Politicians Join Protest Against Tel Aviv High School Simulating IDF Abuse of Palestinians at Checkpoints
Two Knesset members protested Sunday in front of a Tel Aviv high school that erected a mock Israeli-Palestinian checkpoint last week, The Algemeiner has learned.
MK Oded Forer, from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party, and MK Oren Hazan, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, demonstrated alongside Zionism advocacy group Im Tirtzu outside of the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium (Gymnasia Herzliya), after 11th-grade students were reportedly required to participate in a simulation of Palestinians attempting to gain entry into Israel and being abused by IDF troops.
Forer and Hazan called on Education Minister Naftali Bennett to take action action against principal Zeev Degani, who applauded the “wonderful lesson that presented both sides,” according to Hebrew news site Walla.
In a social media post, Hazan slammed Bennett for allowing “this embarrassment to happen under his watch, time and time again,” and said Degani is trying to “poison the minds of the students with anti-Zionist messages.”
According to Walla, the controversial activity was reportedly part of an International Relations course, and included corralling students into long lines before the makeshift checkpoints, through which they had to pass in order to enter their classroom. Other students played troops who harassed the “Palestinians” or refused them entry.
The report said that graffiti messages on the walls asked: “How long does it take you to get to school?” or “How long does it take you to get to the hospital?”
Walla reported students claiming they risked receiving lower grades if they did not participate. However, International Relations program director Adva Zeltser — who wrote a curriculum on Israeli historiography for left-wing Israeli NGO Zochrot, which works “to promote acknowledgement and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic, as Palestinians refer to Israel’s 1948 War of Independence)” — claimed the simulation was student-initiated and voluntary.
In a live Facebook question-and-answer video, Defense Minister Lieberman said such an incident might be expected “at a school named after [Hamas founder] Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and not in the Herzliya Gymnasium.”
In Dec. 2016, Degani was slammed for allowing an event at his school featuring Breaking the Silence, a left-wing NGO that publicizes testimonies of former IDF soldiers criticizing the military, whose public relations coordinator was reportedly heard saying that he does not consider shooting IDF troops to be terrorism.