This past Friday night Natan Scharansky told a few of us sitting around the Shabbat table with him that he had found in his travels to North American college campuses that Jewish students were uninformed as well as scared to speak up for Israel, scared that if they were to actively defend or speak positively about Israel it would impact negatively on their academic career as well as their future professional career.
This morning in a discussion I had with the head of a major Jewish Foundation I was told that during a visit she recently had at a very large Jewish high school, she found the students preparing for an internal school debate on the topic, Israel: Is it an apartheid state? In an informal discussion she had with several students at the same school, she was told by them that they love Israelis but do not like Israel.
This evening I read a piece in the JTA concerning the vote taking place this week at Princeton University on whether to ask the university's dining services to provide an alternative brand of hummus. Why? Because the current brand being offered is Sabra, which is half-owned by The Strauss Group, which has publicly supported the IDF and provides care packages and sports equipment to Israeli soldiers.
We all know of many similar examples. I am mentioning these because they all occurred in just the past few days.
This post is not an invitation to debate political issues related to Israel. Rather, we are very interested in learning how Jewish high schools and junior high schools of all stripes are educating their students regarding Israel. It seems particularly important during this period in which there is increasing de-legitimization of Israel. How much time do schools invest in this critical issue that all of their graduates will face on college campuses? Is it dealt with in a serious and systematic way through formal and informal educational programs? Where does it fit into your school program?
What does your school do? We are hoping that through the Lookjed list the Center can raise consciousness of and attentiveness to this issue and that the thousands of subscribers to the Lookjed list can learn about the different efforts and programs that are being implemented in schools.
This question, of course, touches on how we prioritize what is included in our school programs and how schools allocate and divide up the time that is available. That itself is an important question for reflection and deliberation by school principals and teachers. All schools make choices regarding what is in and what is out? Where does this issue fit in?
Director, the Lookstein Center