Bad education, lack of faith behind Israel's PR woes, says panel

Monday, February 25, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

A leading right-wing Israeli commenator and former Knesset member told last week's Jerusalem Conference that Israel's international public relations problems can be traced back to the education of self-hate today's Israeli youth receive.

Joining a panel dealing with Israel's current public relations efforts, Elyakim HaEtzni told the gathering that starting in grade school, Israel children are taught to believe that they must figure out how they have angered the world, and in particular the Muslim Middle East, and what Israel can do to appease that anger.

HaEtzni noted that Israelis today grow up unaware of the Jewish state's legal international rights because schools no longer teach them that modern Israel was sanctioned by international law, which granted the Jews far more land than they today exercise sovereignty over.

Instead, young Israelis are taught to believe that they have occupied the national homeland of another people, and that while Israel should continue to exist, it must make compromises to appease unsubstantiated Arab claims.

Approaching the issue from a more biblical perspective, Dr. Hagi Ben-Artzi told the gatheirng that the root of the problem of Israel being unable to effectively defend itself on the international stage lies in the fact that "Jewish national existence is not founded on a connection with God, or with Torah, or with the commandment to settle the Land."

Dr. Ben-Artzi noted that religion without nationalism had found a disasterous end in the Nazi Holocaust, while nationalism without religion had resulted in the tragic and potentially equally disastrous "Oslo" peace process.

What Israel needs, said Dr. Ben-Artzi is the "constructive combination of true Jewish spirituality, belief and observance, together with genuine nationalism."

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