Israel, not Gaza, needs to stop brainwashing children

It's Israel, not Gaza, that needs to stop brainwashing children
4 min read

Nasser al-Sahli

07 December, 2023
As Israel continues its brutal assault on Gaza, Netanyahu said what Gaza needs is a 'cultural change'. Elon Musk chimed in soon after, calling for people in Gaza to be 're-educated' - but who is in need of 'cultural change'? asks Nasser al-Sahli.
Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (C) inspects M5 automatic assault rifles being handed out to volunteers of the new civilian guard unit in Ashkelon on 27 October, 2023. [GETTY]

As the sea of blood in Gaza rises, and as the Israel's occupying forces continue to wage unspeakable crimes – overwhelmingly killing women and children - some Israeli politicians have demanded a "cultural change in Gaza" be carried out, "similar to the change that occurred in Germany and Japan".

At the heart of the arrogant, colonial demand, lies the truth of religious Zionism. This is something Palestinians know intimately from lived experience, but which is now steadily revealing itself to others.

The enormous number of dead in Gaza is exposing the fascist nature of Zionism today. It is also causing major cracks in Israel's ability to playact the victim, as well as eroding its ability to coerce Western consciences into submission by wielding the "antisemitism" accusation (alongside other methods taught in manuals on how to manipulate Western public opinion).

The religious Zionists' take on talmudic ideas about "the gentiles" on which their children are raised, which teach that the Arabs deserve nothing but death, are no longer hidden away.

It is important to therefore clarify that since the early days of the formation of Palestinian political awareness, in the context of the national liberation movement in the middle of the last century, Palestinians have never seen their problem as being with the Jews.

Conversely, the shameful goal of ridding themselves of the Palestinians has always been a collective, political and cultural centrality for Israel and its occupation.

Moreover, even after Israel's peace deals with other Arab states, Camp David with Egypt in 1979 and Wadi Araba with Jordan in 1994, and after the more recent normalisation deals with several Arab countries, Israel has continued demanding "changes to Arab educational curricula" and media reporting.

The demand for changes to educational curricula have always been about erasing Palestine, to retrospectively fulfil the claim that it was "a land without a people". However, the truth has begun to reveal itself to others.

Arabs and Westerners stared in shock and disbelief as Israeli state broadcaster Kan aired a video showing Israeli children singing about the "annihilation" of everyone in Gaza.

In relation to this iteration of fascism, the likes of Itamar Ben Gvir - and before him Rehavam Ze’evi, Moshe Levinger and Obadia Yosef, to name a few, are just the tip of a very large iceberg.

Meanwhile, those pushing for normalisation are completely unconcerned with what is taught in the Hebrew-language educational curricula at Zionist-run Jewish schools in the West - the scale of actual brainwashing at these institutions is a stain on humanity.

They are producing generations indoctrinated with the kinds of dehumanising ideas that lead to Zionist soldiers in the prime of their lives blowing up mosques and neighbourhoods in Gaza - utterly convinced that these people are subhuman, and only deserve what their Minister of War Yoav Gallant declared.

Many have been unable to bear living in such a state. Jewish historian Ilan Pappe for example, escaped, and there are may others like him who also live in exile. Moreover, other prominent Jewish names - Noam Chomsky, Normal Finkelstein, and Hannah Arendt, as well as the younger generation of Jews in the West, completely reject the fascism being practiced in their names.

Palestinian children and teenagers are forced to live within the confines of Israel's fascist occupation. It is this, with its racist slogans like "death to Arabs", rather than issues within their "culture", or "educational curricula" which motivate them to rise up and resist.

On the other side of the coin, Israel fills the heads of its children with all kinds of unhinged nonsense – to perpetuate and justify its ongoing occupation and ethnic cleansing.

So who exactly is in need of undergoing a "cultural change"? And to "stop brainwashing the children"?

Nasser al-Sahli is a Palestinian journalist based in Europe. He writes for Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's English-language sister edition.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition. To read the original article click here.

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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff, or the author's employer.

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