Illustration tomb
Illustration. Photo by Amos Biderman
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Dread of the Tomb of the Patriarchs has come over us. Innocent and pure Israeli students will fall victim to a cunning ploy by the education minister. They will be "forced" to see the Tomb of the Patriarchs with their own eyes. That's it. The days are over when students were introduced to the tomb only via naive, heartwarming drawings from the 19th century that added Arab peasants and maybe a palm tree.

The students' fresh innocence will be crushed violently when they see Jews praying near the tombs of the patriarchs and the matriarchs. They will not know how the tomb was conquered by these Jews, and God forbid they may think that the tomb is an Israeli asset, part of the imaginary sovereignty that Israel has imposed on the occupied territories.

Let them go and see the tomb, and then Hebron's Beit Hadassah compound, its Avraham Avinu neighborhood, and then on to Kiryat Arba. These aren't pornographic sites children should be warned about. Because what are we thinking - that if they don't see them, nationalism will be eradicated? That fascism will dissolve? Let them go and see. Because next to the Tomb of the Patriarchs they will also pass - there is no way to avoid it - the separation fence that surrounds Bethlehem on your way to Hebron. And near the lines at the checkpoints, they will see the shops in the Hebron market that were closed down because the settlers demanded it.

After all, what do they know about Hebron? Anyone who believes that Kiryat Arba and its invasive satellites are part of the State of Israel will not alter his opinion because of the trip. And anyone who does not recognize this deadly infection caused by the Jewish settlement in the heart of an Arab city will not be able to recognize it any better because of what his teachers tell him, because they haven't bothered to tell him about it yet. Students will continue to think that the Tomb of the Patriarchs is the holiest of holies, and only when they grow up will they be able to go there on their own, perhaps with their military unit, and see the site for the first time. And what then? Will they be less nationalist or less nationalist as adults?

Let them travel to see the real-estate atrocity that is known as Har Homa, Efrat and Tekoa, Nokdim and Gush Etzion. Let them understand that that same Gush Etzion is not a handful of homes that can be removed with a bulldozer but a huge complex whose future will depend, in a few years, on these young visitors. Because neither the Tomb of the Patriarchs nor Gush Etzion will cease to be part of their lives in the near future. It will no longer be possible to cheat students with ideas of magic solutions, whether from the right or left.

The call to prevent visits to the Tomb of the Patriarchs is strange because it's like encouraging ignorance. The damage caused by the education minister and those like him in the government is much greater in the classrooms, the ones that can't be penetrated by a debate of ideas. These classrooms can't be penetrated by what the eyes see - something that could stir, even in a single student, puzzlement and perhaps even criticism.

True, there are serious concerns that the students will only hear the nationalist narrative when they visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs and will only learn about the Jewish monopoly on historical justice. But there is also the chance that one of the teachers will know enough to present them with a different truth. Perhaps someone there will make them ask their guide a few questions; for example, why can't Muslims always pray near Abraham's tomb; isn't Abraham also considered an Arab "patriarch," not just a Jewish one? Why are there no Arabs near the Tomb of the Patriarchs? And maybe some of the teachers will properly prepare their students for such a visit.

The wish to prevent the pupils from visiting the Tomb of the Patriarchs is about as strange as wanting to prevent American pupils from visiting Native American reservations, lest their guides explain that this is the humanitarian lifestyle that white Americans have granted them. The call to oppose the visit to the tomb, in addition to its patronizing attitude toward students, is a blatant expression of the public's frustration with the galloping takeover by racist and fascist ideas, thought up by right-wing politicians.

So let them travel to the tomb to see. Let them wrap themselves in an Israeli flag, sing Hatikva, spit on an Arab passing by and avenge the blood of Baruch Goldstein. Fascism can't be kept at home. Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar must be removed, not the Tomb of the Patriarchs.