Israel must be part of pre-collegiate education

By the time Jewish students reach college it’s not too late to learn about Israel, but it’s very late. For more than 40 years, the pro-Israel community has lamented the fact that young Jews are ill-prepared for what they often face on college campuses.

In the last few years, educators, advocates and philanthropists have finally recognized the need to make Israel education a part of pre-collegiate education. Much more needs to be done, however, to equip young Jews with the information and tools they require to understand Israel and to build an identity with Israel that will lead them to a lifelong love and commitment to their homeland. Here are some of the essential steps forward:

1) Provide every Jewish student with an Israel toolkit that helps students develop a connection to Israel at an emotional level, teaches students the Aleph-Bet of Israeli political, social and cultural history (toward that end I have written the first textbook aimed at high school students – Israel Matters: Understand the Past - Look to the Future) and trains students how to effectively communicate their knowledge.

2) Teach "Mature Zionism." As I wrote in a previous blog post called, Idealist Zionism, today’s youth do not want to be given a rose-colored picture of Israel; they want to learn about Israel, warts and all. Before they can understand the blemishes, however, they must know the basic facts. Given the background, students can discuss the complexities of Israeli life. This will prepare them for answering critics and strengthen their identification with Israel so they do not feel the need to turn on Israel because it is imperfect....

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