Genocide apologists are incensed some Grade Fours and Fives recently marched for Palestinian rights. But it’s heartening to see kids with a social conscience and Israel supporters have no standing to complain about indoctrinating the young.
Last week, twenty students from Garthwood Park Public School marched along the sidewalk near their school in Mississauga. Some had Palestinian flags and the largely Black and Brown kids chanted “Free Palestine” and “ceasefire now”.
Right wing journalists and apartheid lobbyists, such as Toronto City Councillor James Pasternak, Rebel News and Canada United for Israel, feigned outrage. But kids have long participated in protests on environmental, community safety and other issues. In Grade 6, I participated in a Vancouver-wide school walkout against the first Gulf War.
One of those who complained on X was prominent Vancouver political operative Brad Zubyk. Quote tweeting the video, Zubyk wrote, “Our education system is broken. Kids aren’t born with hate, they learn it. Unfortunately too many Canadian schools are teaching it.”
Leaving aside the idea that opposing genocide is “hate”, it’s wildly hypocritical for Israel supporters to complain about kids being indoctrinated at school on the subject. Jewish schools, as well as youth camps and community centre programs, devote significant resources to promoting apartheid. The recent film Israelism highlights the issue in the US.
The daycare and preschool at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre in Toronto has Israeli flags on the wall and describes “Israel as a Source and Resource”. There is also an Israeli flag in front of Leo Baeck elementary school. The Toronto school’s publicity says it promotes a “love of Israel” and “a deep and meaningful connection to … the State of Israel” among students.
TanenbaumCHAT high school holds regular “IDF days” and Canada’s largest private high school celebrates graduates who have served in the IDF, having them speak about joining the Israeli military.
At Montréal’s Hebrew Foundation School the elementary grades often sing Israel’s national anthem and participate in events put on by the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund (JNF), which has played an important role in the colonization of Palestine. A large map shown to the grade schoolers at a recent JNF Day included the illegally occupied West Bank as part of Israel.
Canadian Jewish institutions spend many millions of dollars every year promoting the apartheid state to the young.
A significant proportion of the crowd at Montréal’s annual Israel Day rally consists of children bused in from the city’s Jewish schools. Recently Federation Combined Jewish Appeal Montreal launched a campaign to “Make cards for our brave IDF soldiers”, which is presumably focused on youngsters. Kids regularly participate in Jewish National Fund telethons and its Blue Box money collections tins have been common in grade schools for a century.
The grade schoolers who marched in Mississauga should be applauded for acting on humanist and internationalist principles. Shame on those disparaging them.
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