Israel may resume youth trips to Poland - ex education minister

Israeli youth trips to Poland have been a hallmark of the Israeli education system for years but were halted due to Poland attempting to alter the educational content.

MK Yifat Shasha-Biton attends the Knesset House Committee, December 28, 2020 (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON/DANI SHEM TOV)
MK Yifat Shasha-Biton attends the Knesset House Committee, December 28, 2020
(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON/DANI SHEM TOV)

Israel's former education minister Yifat Shasha-Biton announced a return of Israeli youth trips to Poland on Sunday as her final act as minister before vacating the position, Israeli media reported.

Israeli youth trips to Poland have been a hallmark of the Israeli education system for years, with Israeli teens going to the eastern European country to learn about the Holocaust by visiting concentration camps and former Jewish landmarks.

However, these trips were put on hold in the summer of 2022 by then-prime minister Yair Lapid, who accused Poland of trying to manipulate the educational content.

"The Poles wanted to mess with the content of the trips and what can or can’t be said to Israeli teens visiting," Lapid said at the time.

However, it seems the content issue has since been resolved, according to Shasha-Biton, though what remains is a security issue. 

 A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR holds a Torah as he arrives at the entrance to Auschwitz for the annual March of the Living marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in May. (credit: KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS) A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR holds a Torah as he arrives at the entrance to Auschwitz for the annual March of the Living marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in May. (credit: KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS)

"In recent months, we worked together with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to find solutions to delegation security dispute."

Yifat Shasha-Biton

"In recent months, we worked together with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to find solutions to delegation security dispute," Shasha-Biton said Sunday, according to N12. She added that she hopes these efforts will result in youth trips to Poland resuming in the near future.

Israel's Education Ministry changes hands to the new government

The Education Ministry was handed off on Sunday by Shasha-Biton to incoming Minister Yoav Kisch of Likud as part of the transition to the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led government. 

At the handover ceremony, Shasha-Biton urged Kisch to not "take the system backward," giving as an example her changes regarding testing in the humanities in high schools – including Bible studies – from a standard matriculation exam to a written paper. This was a step towards more relevant, innovative education, she argued.

Kisch, however, said the education system was going to "change course," and that he would cancel the humanities reform. He also repeated Likud’s campaign pledge to provide fully subsidized frameworks for children aged 0-3.

Eliav Breuer, Lahav Harkov and Zvika Klein contributed to this report.