If We Love Our Kids Why Do We Frighten Them?

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A scene from the Warsaw Ghetto. Kindergarten teachers said they'd deal with the issue gently.Credit: wikimedia

The Nazis also weren’t Nazis until they became Nazis. Until then, what did they do? They set synagogues on fire, smashed headstones, smeared swastikas on walls and spat on Juden in the streets while their patrons in the Reichstag enacted racial laws.

They haven’t murdered, they haven’t built crematoria — not yet. They’re only laying the groundwork. And the neo-Nazis in our days can’t do much more, at the moment anyway. So why are you complaining about Amos Oz, who drew our self-portrait depicting the settler “hilltop youth” as the river-and-forest Jugend?

Jewish neo-Nazism isn’t something you talk about to children in an attempt to inoculate them against the nationalist virus in religious culture. Better focus on others’ black plagues. The education minister is entitled therefore to pat himself on the right shoulder. If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu frightens adults, Education Minister Shay Piron frightens them when they’re little. That’s the only reform he has pulled off so far.

A young father from Tel Aviv kept his son from going to kindergarten on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The kindergarten teacher, who follows her supervisors’ instructions, had told parents she would “gently” deal with the “issue.”

She wasn’t going to focus, heaven forbid, on who died by fire and who by gas; she would only talk about how children were separated from their parents and didn’t get anything to eat. Other survivor-toddlers stayed home that day, for their psychological well-being. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch up on the missing material.

In an elementary school in Ramat Hasharon, teachers took the pedagogical initiative and decided to glorify Memorial Day for fallen soldiers. During the ceremony, in the presence of hundreds of children aged 6 to 12, they screened a movie.

You won’t guess which one. I didn’t either until an agitated father told me. Of all movies they chose the one documenting the 2000 lynching in Ramallah – showing Israeli soldiers being thrown to their deaths from a window. Their Palestinian murderers held up their blood-soaked hands to the camera.

Haaretz's Gideon Levy has asked whether you love your children. Yes, you love them, but you’re not protecting them. You’re told there’s no choice, the children hear the siren, are frightened and ask for explanations. If so, let’s silence the sirens — for their benefit. Let them grow up like normal children, before Netanyahu and Piron drug them.

The school principal, meanwhile, sent text messages to the parents saying “the unplanned event” would be looked into. Poor Israeli teachers, they don’t know what’s expected of them and feel obligated to please ministers, who themselves don’t know their right from their left.

If I could only be sure the education minister had read Janusz Korczak’s 1919 book “How to Love a Child.” In Polish, Korczak wrote: “Society has handed over to you a little savage so that you can plane him down and teach him how to behave – and waits. The state waits, the church waits. They demand and wait and stand guard. The state demands patriotism, the church demands faith, and they all demand mediocrity and submission. The little boy who is too strong they’ll break, the quiet one they’ll trample, the poor one’s way they’ll always block.”

You don’t have a chance, Piron, to add to these words. But at least don’t subtract.

Though teachers are going mad and driving children crazy, it’s good to find out that higher education is keeping sane. For example, this week Tel Aviv University’s law faculty held its annual mock trial “in memory of the faculty’s students and graduates who fell in Israel’s wars.”

The subject was “are the airlines permitted to charge fat passengers double fare?” The tribunal panel was headed by Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer. Our academic sages brought up a burning issue.

What do you think – are the airlines permitted or aren’t they? I haven’t yet made up my mind. It’s a pity we can’t share this existential dilemma with the fallen soldiers, especially the fat ones. Where exactly do Jews fly on hot crystal nights?