On considering the other side – Israel education, and exposure to the “other” narrative

23 Mar

by Ilan Bloch


Image courtesy of Wikimedia

I recently guided a *great* group of non-Jewish non-Zionist students from overseas down south. Before I joined them, they had spent nine days in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank, where they were hosted by Palestinian organizations and institutions, and religious networks. They also visited a Jewish community/settlement and heard from a resident/settler spokesperson. I thought about how woefully inadequate it was to include a one-hour session from a competing narrative, and to assume that by doing so, one could check the educational box of exposing students to other viewpoints, and facilitating the development of independent, critical and analytical thinking amongst them.

And then I thought about other groups and contexts; I have guided Jewish, Zionist Israel programs of 6 weeks’, or even 4 months’, duration, where in an attempt to be open and to expose students to other viewpoints and narratives, we included a one-hour session with a Palestinian speaker.

Surely that which is so overwhelmingly obvious when considering the educational context of an Israel trip for non-Jewish, non-Zionist students should be just as overwhelmingly obvious when considering an Israel program in a Jewish, Zionist educational context.

Ilan Bloch is a licensed Israel tour guide.

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