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Tel Aviv University
[TAU Education] Avner Ben-Amos: Since 1967 IDF soldiers are no longer victims but rather partners in turning another people into victims

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Prof. Avner Ben-Amos

Prof. Avner Ben-Amos is an associate professor in the education department at Tel Aviv University. He used to head the Department of Educational Policy and Management, as well as the MA program in the History and Philosophy of Education. Ben-Amos also used to be a history lecturer at both Ben-Gurion University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He completed his PHD in history at the University of California at Berkeley.

Ben-Amos is on the Forum Secretariat of the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality which has been at the forefront of demonstrations in Al Araqib and other unrecognized Bedouin villages and has been supportive of Bedouins claims to land which is still disputed in courts . They alsocommemorate Land Day, hold lectures on the “massacre of Kfar Kassim,” and lobby international bodies against the Israeli state. Other organizations part of the Recognition Forum include the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions,Ta’ayush, Rabbis for Human Rights,Coalition of Women for Peace, Yesh Gvul, and New Profile.

As part of his Bedouin activism, Ben-Amos spoke at a conference at Tel Aviv University on “Al Araqib” that was sponsored by the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality. This conference sided with the Bedouins against the State of Israel, despite the fact that the court cases are not over yet. Ben-Amos also helped to arrange for a solidarity visit to Al Araqib following one of the demolitions by the Israeli government. And he also signed onto a petition publicized by the group “Bedouin Jewish Justice in Israel,” a project of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, which describes the demolition of Al Araqib as a “brutal horror show,” claimed that Israel viciously beats and shoots Bedouin children, women, and men, that Israel discriminates against the Bedouins, that Israel robs Bedouins of their lands, and that Israel violates international law when it comes to her Bedouin policies.

In addition to his Bedouin activism, Ben-Amos has signed onto a petition supporting lecturers and students who refuse to serve in the “occupied territories.” This same petition also asserts that Israel violates the “basic human rights” of some three and a half million Palestinians, whom Israel “occupies” and “oppresses.” Ben-Amos has also signed onto a petition that was adopted by PACBI, which launched the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign. Another petition protests Israeli restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement into Israel in the name of academic freedom, despite the fact that giving the Palestinians full freedom of movement is a security risk for Israel. This petition also suggests that Israel is to be blamed for the lack of academic freedom of Palestinians and not the Palestinian Authority. And Ben-Amos also has in the past called upon the international community for the provision of effective international protection for Palestinians against Israel in order to stop the “repression, blockades, and daily humiliation exercised by the military occupation and by the daily harassment that Jewish settlers inflict on the Palestinian population. This same petition also declares that Israel violates the Palestinians “human and political rights” and that such an international force should be charged with putting an end to Israel’s “military occupation of Palestinian lands.”




New program in Israeli schools has students 'adopting' graves from War of Independence

By Or Kashti23.05.11 Haaretz:

Pilot program set to begin next year, intends to enhance young peoples' awareness of Israel's history, strengthen sense of belonging and willingness to contribute to society and the state.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar is expected to unveil a new school program in which seventh- to 12th-graders will "adopt" monuments and graves from the War of Independence in an attempt to "bring young people closer to Israel's history."

But the concept has its critics. Prof. Avner Ben-Amos of Tel Aviv University, a specialist on commemoration in the Israeli education system, says the program "tries to anchor young peoples' identity in a cult of the dead, emphasizing bereavement and the victim."

The Defense Ministry's commemoration department and the bereaved parents organization Yad Lebanim will help develop the program; the subject will be included in high school matriculation exams.

Officials began drawing up the program, "Heritage, Values and Commemoration," about 18 months ago when Yad Lebanim's chairman, Eli Ben-Shem, approached Sa'ar about the idea.

"We believe that through educational activities we can bring young people closer to Israel's history - to the struggle for its existence - and strengthen the sense of belonging and willingness to contribute to society and the state," says a draft of the program, obtained by Haaretz.

The document concedes that activities involving Israel's fallen already exist at some schools and youth groups, but that the country needs "to develop a joint infrastructure that will help create educational continuity in the town, school and community, in the formal and informal educational system."

A pilot program is to begin next year in Haifa, Rehovot, Ashdod and Kiryat Ono. After discussions with students, parents, the Defense Ministry and Yad Lebanim, the Education Ministry has recommended that every town put together a program for youth groups and school homeroom classes.

The ministry recommends that the Israel Defense Forces' chief education officer be enlisted to help produce an educational kit about Israel's wars. The ministry also suggests that students receive before Memorial Day "a useful object such as a ruler or pencil sharpener that will contain basic information about Israel's wars."

Young people should learn about "the heroes of the battles who paid with their lives and whose story there is no one to tell," Ben-Shem says.

He says the program came to life after long discussions with the Education Ministry, and that he hoped the program would end "the era of young people's ignorance of the history and heritage of battles and the heroism of the fallen."

Tel Aviv University's Ben-Amos agrees that the fallen should be commemorated. "But the matter must not be presented as the basis for our identity, among other reasons because getting stuck in the past leads to self-perception as an eternal victim," he says. "We forget that since 1967, IDF soldiers are no longer victims, but rather partners in turning another people into victims."

The involvement of the IDF's chief education officer shows "the deepening militarization of education, which should remain a civilian matter," he says, adding that the IDF's participation "allows the IDF not only to professionally prepare young people for army service, but to interfere in the students' values and perceptions."

Ben-Amos says the idea for students to adopt monuments means conveying very complex history by emphasizing emotional aspects or memorizing facts. He said such a program would produce students "whose knowledge is based on memorization and a selective view of the past."



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