Students in classroom 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
All “price tag” crimes, and the troubling Tuba Zanghariya incident in
particular, are deeply troubling for educators. The claim that schools within
the Religious Zionist system may contribute to this phenomenon must be countered
clearly, so as not to mislead the public.
The AMIT Network is the
educational system’s largest Religious Zionist network with approximately 25,000
students. Our message about respect for the rule of law and for others is
unequivocal. We at AMIT not only believe that it is possible to live full lives
in a democratic and Jewish state, but also engage in educational activities with
the specific aim of teaching respect for those different from
We believe and teach that there is no contradiction between
being a pious Jew and being a law abiding citizen of the State of Israel, a
citizen faithful to the state’s laws, informed with regard to the duties and
rights of citizenship, and respectful of the principles of democracy and
Citizens in a democracy have the fundamental right to
protest government actions. To protest, by legitimate means, can even be
considered a citizen’s duty. However, violence is not legitimate in any form.
“Price Tag” activities are acts of pure violence and harm the State of Israel
and the Jewish people, and each and every student in an AMIT school knows
Beyond instilling our philosophy in schools, AMIT runs various
educational programs focused on addressing these issues. For example, in Jewish
studies lessons we highlight the fundamental value of human freedom: “beloved is
all humankind for they were made in the image of God” (Avot, 3:14). AMIT has
also established batei midrash(houses of learning) in schools for teachers to
learn how to discuss controversial issues in our society with students, based on
AMIT’s philosophy and worldview.
This is such a crucial issue in the AMIT
network that, following the recent “price tag” incidents, homeroom teachers
throughout Israel have been discussing the issues of protest boundaries with
their students as part of a comprehensive program on human dignity. In addition,
citizenship lessons place great emphasis on the importance of human dignity, a
democratic state and obeying the law and accepting the rules of
In conclusion, this is precisely the time of year, a time of
introspection and cheshbon nefesh (soul searching), when educational leaders
cannot remain silent. They must express loudly and clearly their stance against
“price tag” activities, while educating our youth in the ways of Torah
Those who choose to harm innocent people and houses of prayer
deserve to be denounced. If there are weeds in the garden of religious Zionism,
it is our duty to isolate them, uproot them and prevent ugliness and violence
that is foreign to the values of a religious education.
The writer is the
director general of the AMIT Network in Israel.