The Israel Defense Force has initiated a new program in schools termed “the Golden Way and the Sky” as part of an effort to instill feelings of citizenship within young people. The campaign launched this week by the Education Ministry and the Israel Air Force sends thousands of IDF soldiers to visit schools and talk to students about the values and achievements that have made Israel’s armed forces succeed throughout their nation’s history. Officeers expound on values such as carrying out a mission at all costs and having pride in achievements of the Jewish state.
In one lesson, students are told the following scenario: “Soldiers are trapped in this house. Hizullah is firing on them from here, here, and here. After five hours, the soldiers decide they have to get out of the house and run under heavy fire to this location here. When they run, one of them stops, under heavy fire to inspect a body of one of the terrorists. That soldier was later awarded a medal for bravery. Why did he stop to examine the body?” Students shout out answers like looking for a radio or checking the terrorist’s disguise. But the officer points out he was seekng to gather intelligence.
Yosi Sarid, former education minister raises issues about emphasizing the military as critical to the lives of children and they will encounter a military experience later in life. Retired General Avigdor Kahalani, comments: “The school’s job is to prepare good citizens for the country. The teachers aren’t doing it so the army needs to.”
I can not comment on the job being done or not done by Israel teachers regarding education in citizenship, but one can assume there are thousands of successful educators working to foster values of good citizenship within the schools of Israel. There is something sad when members of the armed forces have to be the ones teachng citizenship. Does it raise issues as to what is the meaning of “citizenship?”