JERUSALEM (Dec. 19)
Deputy Education Minister Micha Goldman has attacked Israel’s government-run religious schools for what appears to be a campaign against the government’s policies in the peace process.
Goldman also said the kind of anti-Arab propaganda that he has seen on the schools’ bulletin boards reminds him of the propaganda against Jews that has been a traditional feature of schools in Arab countries.
“Lately we have seen the phenomenon spreading, especially in religious schools, of a campaign against the peace process and the Israeli government, especially against the prime minister,” said Arik Kaplan, Goldman’s senior adviser.
Goldman, who made his remarks Dec. 15 while touring Rehovot, believes “we should have a decent argument” on the merits of the government’s polices, said Kaplan.
But Goldman believes “we have to fight any attempt to use the educational system paid for and belonging to the government as a base of activism against elected institutions” and officials, his adviser said.
The Education Ministry oversees two school systems, one secular and one religious.
Matityahu Dagan, the head of religious education, rebutted Goldman’s allegations that there was any systemic effort to attack government policies.
“I deny all the accusations,” he said.
Dagan said he was checking into the matter, but he also said “it was a mistake on his part to generalize about 800 schools from one or two.”
“I hope our office would encourage our students (who are) behaving bravely and going to class as usual even with all the difficulties and fears, especially those from (Judea and Samaria),” Dagan said, referring to the West Bank.
There are some psychological problems for the students posed by the Israel-PLO accord “that we have no response to yet,” said Dagan.
He said his office is devising programs to help students cope with and defuse the tension.