Lesson about Palestinians should not be 'taboo'


Talking about the Palestinians to pupils at Jewish schools "cannot be taboo", according to a specialist on teaching children about Israel.

Dr Sivan Zakai, of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, has found that young Jewish schoolchildren in the city are unaware of the Palestinians, instead believing Israel to be in conflict with some "unclear other team".

The keynote speaker at the UJIA's education research conference in London last week said that many adults underestimated the capacity of children to grapple with complexities.

While some educators thought their role was to be only "cheerleaders" for Israel, she said that "young children do not need to be inoculated against the messy realities".

Children as young as five were capable of holding "multiple concepts" of Israel such as seeing it both as a Jewish state and a state for all its citizens; or both as a safe haven for Jews but also as a place of danger.

Eight-year-olds could hold "mixed emotions", wrestling with anxiety about Israel at time of war but also taking pride in its achievements.

Some Jewish teenagers felt "duped" about the Israel education which they had received as youngsters, she warned. Teachers should be "willing and able to talk about Palestinians and their national aspirations".

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