Young ambassadors encounter ignorance

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 11, 2008

Two young Israeli ambassadors who toured northern sixth-form colleges say they found more ignorance about Jews than hostility towards Israel.
Hadar Tamir, 18, and Tom Zawilinski, 16, spoke about being teenagers at a time of conflict. For many of their audience it was a first encounter with Israelis.

The visitors live just outside Tel Aviv and have attended the same school in Lod. Questions were invited at the end of their presentation, in which they used Google Maps to help explain the Middle East’s geography.

“In Yorkshire we actually had a question about our horns and tales, but it was more of a joke,” Hadar recalled. “We did get a serious question about why Jewish people are all rich.”

At Bolton Sixth Form College, where over half the students are Muslim, one pupil asked what work religious Jews refrained from on Sundays. Another was unaware that Israel had returned the Sinai desert to Egypt after the Six-Day War.

“I didn’t know much about it, only that Israel had occupied it — but I didn’t know they gave it back,” said economics student Salman Adam.
The tour was arranged by the British-Israel Education Trust in conjunction with the Israel Information Centre in Manchester. The centre’s director Doreen Gerson pointed out: “There is either misinformation or lack of knowledge, so it’s so important to do these sessions.”

Last updated: 10:24am, December 11 2008