Over 250 Israeli teachers have signed a protest letter condemning the Education Ministry’s “Ascending to Hebron” program, which takes Israeli high school pupils on heritage tours to Hebron.
“In February 2011, you announced a new tour program called Ascending to Hebron,” the teachers wrote to Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar. “Introducing the program to schools is a manipulative use of pupils and teachers, who will be forced to become political pawns. Since we’re dedicated to education, our conscience prevents us from becoming agents of such a policy.”
The letter continues: “In your visit to Shiloh you announced their aim openly: ‘It’s good to come to the settlements. Its good that the settlements flourish. One should not allow the Arabs to harbor the illusion that one day there won’t be Jews here. Jews will always live here and any other illusion is an obstacle to peace.’ That is the reason we’re called to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Shiloh. By using the national education system, you wish to strengthen and perpetuate the Jewish settlements in these areas. To this end, the reality in Hebron is presented in a partial and tendentious manner. Concealing the political reality is a political action.”
In response, Sa’ar dismissed the protest as media-fueled, saying: “I didn’t receive any protest letter, their letter was sent to Haaretz to serve their campaign against us.”
He also admonished the teachers for the absurdity of their gripe – that the Jewish state is promoting the Jewish people’s connection to Hebron and endorsing school excursions to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. “One teacher charged me of Zionist indoctrination. You see? Being Zionist is now an accusation.”
“It’s to the discredit of the education system that this hasn’t happened in the last 40 years,” Sa’ar added.
According to a report by Haaretz, around 2,000 secular and 1,000 religious students have visited the the Tomb of the Patriarchs so far.