Screenshot of video in the online hasbara course
This year, 25 bright Palestinian students at a high school in Nazareth were supposed to travel to Sweden for an exciting exchange program.
But the students, all citizens of Israel, discovered that a new rule had been put in place by Israel's Education Ministry: all high schoolers in the country – Arab and Jewish – had to pass an online government propaganda course in order to participate in overseas class trips.
The mandatory course requires students to watch a series of videos and then take a multiple choice exam – the correct answers of which are shockingly racist and promote the Israeli government's "hasbara" (propaganda) messages against Palestinians.
For example, one question asks: "How do Palestinian organizations use digital social networks?" The correct answer of four possible choices: "Encouraging violence".
Another question asks students to identify the origins of modern anti-Semitism. The exam's correct answer: "Muslim organizations" and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
"The Israeli Education Ministry is trying to turn high school students into agents of propaganda charged with spreading extreme racist ideology," said Adalah Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi, who wrote a letter to the Education Ministry last month on behalf of the school, the Masar Association.
Adalah argued in its letter that, in addition to violating Israeli laws, the propaganda course is an affront to the values of educational pluralism and constitute blatant humiliation of Palestinian high school students, who are essentially being told to internalize racist ideologies and beliefs about their own community.
"This is outrageous and illegal", said Attorney Shehadeh-Zoabi. "Political and ideological coercion of citizens radically contradicts the goals of education. Adalah will take all necessary steps to abolish this course, which is repugnantly offensive to Arab citizens and students".
Adalah is preparing to take further legal actions to cancel the propaganda course by the start of the 2019-2020 academic year, so that all high schoolers in Israel can participate in foreign exchange programs without the racist indoctrination of the government.
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