MK proposes mandatory Zionism classes in universities

The coursework would include texts by Binyamin Ze’ev Herzl, David Ben-Gurion, Berel Catzenelson, Menachem Begin, Uri Zvi Greenberg, Yitzhak Rabin, and more.

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August 1, 2016 00:32
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Legislation under consideration would require all Israeli university students to study Zionist Thought.

The bill submitted by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) last week is based on a program by right-wing organization Im Tirzu, which instituted a Zionist Thought lecture series on campuses around the country.

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According to Forer’s proposal, the Zionist Thought classes would be part of students’ course requirements outside their major, and would “broaden their horizons” and “turn them into more involved citizens.”

The coursework would include texts by Binyamin Ze’ev Herzl, David Ben-Gurion, Berl Katznelson, Menachem Begin, Uri Zvi Greenberg and Yitzhak Rabin, but would be left to the discretion of the academic institution.

Forer said that college-educated Israelis should know the principles of Zionism and its thinkers well.

“After years in which academic institutes opened their gates and gave platforms to anti-Israel and post-Zionist content, it seems that some institutes of higher education are competing to see who denounces Israel more. The time has come to fix that,” he said.

The courses will “ensure the next generation of academics know the basis on which the State of Israel was established and deepen academic research on the topic,” Forer added.

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Im Tirzu CEO Matan Peleg called the bill a response to “politicization of the academia... led by lecturers with an extreme left-wing agenda.

“We see in recent years faculties and lecturers in academia... neglecting and twisting the history of the Jewish people and de facto harming the future generation of the Jewish state,” Peleg said.

Im Tirzu began the Program for Zionist Thought, its flagship academic project on which the bill is based, in 2012 as a supplement to Israelis’ formal university education, in response to students who complained about both the exclusion of Zionist thought and a strong anti-Israel bias in their curriculum.

The program has attracted thousands of students to hear lectures from prominent Israeli figures and experts in their fields, including Jerusalem Post Senior Contributing Editor Caroline Glick, Nobel Prize laureate Yisrael Aumann, ambassador Yoram Ettinger, journalist Ben Dror-Yemini, Rabbi David Stav, Father Gabriel Naddaf and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror.

The program features eight lectures spanning the course of the academic semester, with some universities holding two programs annually.

Lidar Gravé-Lazi contributed to this report.

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