ER Editor: This is an interviewer we can highly recommend – Frank Barat on Youtube. Here he is talking to Israeli professor of education and peace activist Nurit Peled, who has relatives in Kibbutz Be’eri, the community near Gaza that was invaded on October 7.
We’re offering a few notes here but recommend the original interview, which is only 23 minutes. What she has to say is eye-opening, making us realize how peace was NEVER the intention on the Israeli side. Nor could it be on the Arab side, either.
While we’re not experts on the topic, it does sound as if Israeli children are getting a type of trauma-based or trauma-causing education.
- Many people expected this attack to happen. The govt was warned by relevant agencies but chose to ignore it and took the army out of the border area over to the West Bank. It happened just before the attack. Right away, Palestinians were compared to Nazis, as are Hamas. Jews are always seen as ‘helpless’ in their media, forgetting that they have one of the most powerful militaries in the world. Peled was suspended from her college for comments she made on social media following October 7. This censorship goes on everywhere in Israel; there is a McCarthyist atmosphere. Arabs especially are afraid to speak up. Oct 7 was an ugly, cruel revolt against an ugly occupation.
- Understanding an event does not mean you justify it. This point is getting forgotten. Peled was suspended for so-called sympathy for the Palestinians. Israel wants blood, not peace she says. A lot of people are profiting from this conflict.
- This kind of attack (on Gaza by Israel) and annihilation of Palestinians can only happen if first they are dehumanized in the propaganda machine and lied about.
- The Israeli education system is just such a propaganda machine. This attack on Gaza can only take place if your own taxpayers are persuaded that the Palestinians deserve it. So there are a few stages to this propaganda process. First, you make an abstraction out of them: Palestinians don’t exist in Israeli culture and education. They are seen as a very vague enemy, a threat, a terror. In Israeli schoolbooks you don’t find real photos of them, just stereotypical images, a kind of Ali Baba on a camel, primitive farmers, or terrorists but never as professionals, children or real people. As a threat, they must be distanced and confined, which legitimizes the occupation. The next step is to ask, why not eliminate or kill them? They are seen as weeds in the ‘plucking out weeds’ metaphor, where the garden (the state) would otherwise be perfect if it weren’t for these weeds. Plus, Israelis are subject to a traumatizing Holocaust education, which perpetuates a desire for revenge. But not against the Germans, who are our ‘friends’, but against the Palestinians, the potential exterminators. Palestinians and Arabs in general are always conflated with Nazis. And 16 year olds visit Treblinka and Auschwitz wrapped in an Israeli flag, and they come back with a zeal for revenge, seeing Palestinians of any age as a threat to be killed. This education is so strong and sophisticated. Textbooks and exams contain material on Palestinian/Arab terrorist actions, which attempt to make it easy for Israelis to identify with Holocaust survivors. Jews are always depicted as the ‘innocent children’. This thought process permeates throughout. Which precedes what is happening today. It is hard to eradicate this perspective. It is entrenched; children are brainwashed. It is deliberate programming through the Ministry of Education.
- Comparing the Oct 7 attack to a 2nd Holocaust: Peled likens the October 7 attack to Algerians getting a chance to get even with the French: Algerians weren’t nice, they were horrible but this is what happens under such circumstances. Israel is not a helpless minority without a state such as the Algerians were. But this is something else, seen through Israeli attempts to annihilate a whole society. This is ‘socio-cide’.
- Palestinian land was originally taken over by those who didn’t regard the local people as being worth anything. The land wasn’t empty; it just wasn’t populated by people who mattered to the colonizers. So these people don’t exist today in Israeli culture. If you mention Israeli science, for example, it doesn’t include Palestinian scientists. This approach has been a huge success, undertaken by all the successful colonial regimes. Israel is no different. If these unwelcome people obstruct in anyway, they have to be gotten rid of, and people accept this – that is the point.
- Where do we go from here? A ceasefire is the minimum. This time it’s bigger and more problematic than it’s ever been. The definition of ‘camps’ has to change. Who are ‘we’? We are those who suffer from the occupation. We don’t have the power to beat the Israeli state and army, backed by millions per day from the US taxpayer. Education has not paid attention to the ability of children to refuse unworthy authority. We need to teach children to refuse to obey orders. We have never done this. We need another ‘we’ in this alternative world via a different education. Let’s teach children who is worthy of our trust. We are ruled by a bunch of criminals and yet people still obey them. It’s education for obedience. There is no democracy in Israel – we’re not educating for democracy. Nobody is doing this in Israel because the leaders are all like Bibi – either more or less corrupt. Revenge is on everybody’s lips in Israel. There are some Arab leaders who are talking differently, but nobody is listening to them. These are the people who should be in power.
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