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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mind Control in High School Literature

A few months ago, the Israeli Ministry of Education decided to poll the "public" in order to decide which works of literature would be added to the resurrected required curriculum in EFL English studies.

Some of the suggested works proved controversial, and the debate even made the local press*. (*Strangely, now when I went back to the site/link, I found that the talkbacks have been deleted. There had been quite a public debate.) A number of teachers wanted the debut historical novel, Grains of Sand, by Shifra Shomron, who based her novel on her experiences as a teenager expelled from her home in Neve Dekalim, Gush Katif.

I'm considered a veteran high school English teacher here in Israel, and I admit to having encouraged Shifra with her writing and offered her to blog on Shiloh Musings. It's a good book and I think that its inclusion would have made the students think and encouraged Israeli students to try writing. But the book didn't make it into the official recommended list.

Ironically, while Shifra's book is very understated, personal and non-political, a much more controversial book did make it in. Actually, I'm overjoyed that The Wave by Morton Rhue is one of the two choices for top level (5 point Bagrut) Israeli students.
"The setting of the book is Gordon High School in 1969. The plot of the book revolves around around a history teacher (Mr. Ben Ross), his high school students, and an experiment he conducts in an attempt to teach them about how it may have been living in Nazi Germany. He hopes this answers the question of why the Germans allowed Adolf Hitler and the genocidal Nazi Party to rise to power, acting in a manner inconsistent with their own pre-existing moral values...

Laurie, a student in Mr. Ross' class, starts to think that The Wave is having too much of an impact. A huge majority of the school is in The Wave, and its members attack students who refuse to join. Using her influence as the School Newspaper Editor, Laurie releases an entire issue of The Grapevine dedicated to showing the dangers of The Wave. While some thank her, especially teachers and parents, others do not. Laurie's boyfriend David, who has been in The Wave since the beginning, tries to get her to stop bad-mouthing The Wave. He eventually shoves her to the ground and this makes him realize how dangerous The Wave really is."

I think it should be required reading to prepare our students for IDF army service. We don't want "just following orders" Nazi-like robots in the army, and we certainly don't want our children to be mind-controlled.
The Fall of the Last Community in Gush Katif

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The Last Hours of Netzer Hazani

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Every time I see films of how our soldiers systematically, methodically and trained to overcome their emotion as they force innocent Israeli Jews from their homes, I'm spooked, scared out of my wits. It's inhuman and against Jewish Law how our soldiers behaved. I'm glad that my sons were already out of the army when Disengagement happened.

Descended from the same Jewish souls who sympathize with every underdog, even the fakes and antisemitic ones, our politicians, leaders, media and judicial must have undergone some perverse mutation. How else can this be explained?

It would be best if Israeli high school students would be exposed to the dangers of cults and brainwashing in their native Hebrew, but it looks like it's up to the English teachers to immunize the youth against the mind control of the "politically correct."


Anonymous said...

every time i see these videos i cry like a baby. and yet my position on the expulsion remains unchanged.
as far as what kids read in school, i would want them to read classics, well-written books, not something a gush expellee wrote, regardless of the ideas expressed therein. which takes me to another point. you just dont like their brainwashing. your brainwashing is just fine. to me, this demonstrates a lack of perspective on your part.

Hadassa said...

Anonymous, have you read "Grains of Sand"? Do you have any idea how well written it is? Have you seen the list of books chosen? The list chosen includes books written by modern authors.
We don't want anyone's brainwashing. We want students to read thought-provoking writings and make decisions for themselves.
Your refusal to consider a book based on the hometown of the writer shows a lack of perspective on your part. We learn much from reading viewpoints with which we do not agree.

Sara Layah said...

Anonymous, please help me understand why you continue to "cry like a baby" if you don't regret the expulsion. For whom do you cry?

And why is it that writings by a former Gush Katif resident/ expellee are irrelevant? Simply because the writer is from Gush Katif?

"If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?" - William Shakespeare

Anonymous, I sense a great injustice in your comment - not only to the people of Gush Katif in general and to Shifra Shomron in particular - but to anyone who lives anywhere.

Batya said...

a, trust your heart. For sure you never read the book.

Anonymous said...

my impression was that high-schoolers would be reading classics like to kill a mockingbird of catcher in the rye. i have not read gos, but my sense is that it is not of the caliber of an american classic. i probably should read it tho.
sara layah, sometimes tragic decisions are necessary for a larger purpose.

Sara Layah said...

Anonymous, do the means justify the end? And to what larger purpose do you refer? For Iran to have a foothold in Eretz Yisroel?

Hadassa said...

"To Kill a Mockingbird" was written by Harper Lee and published in 1960. "Catcher in the Rye" was written in 1951 by J. D. Salinger. Both novel qualify as modern literature, sometimes called modern classics. Genuine classics, they aren't.
Name one improvement to any part of Israel or any people living in Israel that the expulsion has caused. Even the Arabs of Gaza would prefer to have the Jews back in Gush Katif.

Batya said...

a, "greater good?" Hadassa, Sara Laya and I believe in G-d. G-d forbids the abuse the our Land and cruelty to fellow Jews. There is nothing greater than that.