Reflections on the First Day of School in Israel

I ask my son how the first day of his elementary school (sixth grade) went. He tells me that the number of guards has been upped from two to five, and now they have metal detector wands. One of the guards, as before, carries a .38 caliber pistol. For good measure, he adds that the guard at the nearby clothing store is now carrying a G36C fully automatic Heckler & Koch. (Daniel’s an expert on small arms and has a high opinion of this weapon, one of his many hobbies.)

They are not carrying this equipment because of concern over random trespassers or shoplifters. I often reflect that if terrorists were to attack the elementary school successfully, they would be regarded as heroes in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and among millions of Arabs and Muslims.

In contrast, of course, Palestinian schools, stores, and malls do not have to fear attack. On the contrary, certainly in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser extent on the West Bank, they are being taught in textbooks that it is proper and virtuous to slay Israelis wherever they find them. Would all this change overnight if there were an internationally recognized Palestinian state? Of course not.

And incidentally, in high school my daughter did a course on comparative religion, including a fair and accurate study of Islam. In the schooling of both children there has never been the slightest demonization of Arabs or Muslims while there has been a genuine effort to understand (without apologizing for or advocating) the viewpoint of those peoples.