Israeli school exercise mimics IDF ‘abuse of Palestinians,’ stirs outrage

Pro-Israel activists protested a high school exercise simulating alleged IDF abuse of Palestinians.   

A classroom exercise at Tel-Aviv’s prestigious Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium high school sparked controversy after it was revealed Thursday that students were forced to participate in a simulation of IDF activities at security checkpoints, depicting abuse of Palestinians.

According to a report published by Israel’s Walla! news, students in the school’s 11th grade International Relations track were met at the entrance to their floor with two makeshift checkpoints manned by students simulating IDF soldiers. The students were forced to wait in long lines while “soldiers” proceeded to verbally abuse them and refuse to let them pass.

The simulation drew sharp criticism from IDF reservists, wounded IDF veterans and pro-IDF activists who, through the initiative of the Im Tirtzu Zionist student organization, organized a demonstration on Sunday outside the school. They were joined by Members of Knesset Oded Forer and Oren Hazan.

“This simulation is outrageous,” said Forer. “It is time for Education Minister Bennett to end this situation in which some principals go about doing whatever they please. Red lines have been crossed a long time ago.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman expressed opposition to the simulation exercise during a live question and answer session on his Facebook page, saying that such content is “fitting to be taught at a school named after [Hamas founder] Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and not in the Herzliya Gymnasium.”

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Adva Zeltzer, head of the school’s International Relations track and an activist in the far-left Israeli NGO Zochrot, which works to “promote acknowledgement and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba (Arabic for ‘Day of Catastrophe,’ referring to the establishment of the State of Israel),” said that the simulation was voluntary and initiated by the students.

‘Inappropriate and Certainly not Educational’

However, some students said they were forced to participate in the simulation or risk receiving poor grades.

The school’s principal, Dr. Zeev Degani, backed the exercise and said it was a “wonderful lesson that presented both sides. I am proud of my students.”

Degani previously made headlines when he forbade students to wave the Israeli flag on school grounds and advocated for the refusal to do IDF service.

Liran Baruch, a wounded IDF veteran who lost his eye during an operation in Qalandiya, was present at the demonstration and wore his uniform for the first time since his injury.

“I was wounded because ‘human rights’ organizations instigated riots and violence in Qalandiya that resulted in me losing my eye. I didn’t shoot because I didn’t want to accidentally harm innocents,” Baruch said. “It pains me to see the school’s administration blackening the name of IDF soldiers.”

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Im Tirtzu’s National Branch coordinator, Tom Nisani, took part in the demonstration.

“We are here today protesting this disgraceful act of contempt towards IDF soldiers. We are calling on the Education Ministry to act immediately to end this political exploitation of students,” he stated.

“This is inappropriate and certainly not educational,” Nisani said.

By: World Israel News Staff