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Netanyahu’s shameful civics lesson for young Israelis

The dismissiveness of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toward the courts, minorities rights and rule of law has seeped into the nation's matriculation exams.
A billboard of Israeli Parliament speaker Benny Gantz is pictured along a highway in the Mediterranean costal city of Tel Aviv, on March 29, 2020. - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his erstwhile rival Benny Gantz announced "significant progress" in talks towards forming an emergency unity government amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of high school students are busy at home, studying for their matriculation exam in civics scheduled for June. Education Minister Rafi Peretz has decided to take into consideration the limitations of online teaching during the lockdown imposed on most Israelis by the spread of COVID-19. In a March 20 tweet, Peretz, a representative of right-wing settlers, said he had instructed the professionals in his ministry to make this year’s matriculation exams easier for students in terms of the material to be covered and the topics from which they will be exempt. Two days later, the Education Ministry issued a list of the subjects covered by the exam. Anat Ohion, the ministry’s supervisor of civics studies, informed teachers, “Due to the emergency, only sections appearing on the focus list should be taught,” adding, “and only in this context.”

Education Ministry sources told Haaretz education affairs analyst Or Kashti that the “focus” was adapted from questions formulated prior to the novel coronavirus outbreak, calling it “a political tool in the hands of the regime that signals to students and teachers what is important and what can be skipped.” So here are some of the subjects that Israeli 12th graders and soon-to-be-armed soldiers apparently do not need to know, even though they will be eligible to vote in the next election and will determine the direction and future of their state.

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