I. is the initial of a Norwegian citizen living in Israel. I. posted this among friends on social media and allowed us to publish it. –Editors
Sunday marked the start of Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Day in Israel. Today at 10 a.m. two minutes of air raid sirens blared throughout Israel. Haunting? Yes, but not for the right reasons in my opinion.
The education ministry in Israel has decided that commemorating the Shoah/Holocaust is so essential to Israel, that learning what happened will start at the age of three, in preschool. When asking our daughter’s kindergarten teacher, she said she would prefer not to have this talk with the children at this age. But, the inspectors would check if the curriculum is followed. So, she has to. The curriculum is specific. Each age has age appropriate information given to them. For children aged three, the lesson sounds something like this: Something horrible happened a long time ago in a land far, far away. And, people died. But here, now (in Israel) we are safe. And the siren is to commemorate those people who died.
The curriculum became more specified the last years, after some unfortunate events where teachers went overboard, and children came home from school with yellow stars on their clothes and morbid fear of cargo trains. Now it is streamlined, and mandatory, for all public institutions for children.
Because of the decision other people made about when and how it is appropriate for our child to learn about genocide, we chose to keep her at home yesterday and today. We want our child to learn about injustice; moral, critical thinking; and courage. We want her to grow up to be strong, fair, kind and safe. And, we think that learning about blurry dangers in a distant past does not teach her that.
Tonight also marks the start of a series of holidays that builds a fundament of nationalism in children across Israel.
First YomHaShoah, Holocaust Day, or “what They can do to us if we are not vigilant.” The use of sirens instead of a prayer, to make them feel the horror.
Then, Yom HaZikaron, the mourning day of fallen soldiers and victims of terror. A day to mark the ones that sacrificed themselves for us and our safety. And again the sirens sound, everyone standing still, stopping their cars, for a sound that not that long ago meant “run for shelter, missiles are coming!” Not confusing at all for a child, is it?
And to conclude; Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, celebrated with barbecues and massive flyovers by a variety of fighter planes, combat helicopters, and other war machines. Inflatable hammers with the Israeli flag, flags on cars, on bikes, flags on the children, painted onto the children’s face. Candy floss in blue and white. Yom HaAtzmaut has a different name in Arabic; Yom al-Nakba. Although, mentioning that last name in class as a teacher might get you in trouble.