Photo: GPO
Alon Liel
Photo: GPO
Photo: Meir Fartush
Avigdor Kahalani
Photo: Meir Fartush

'Golan hikes undermine peace'

Peace movement criticizes initiative to send 45,000 students on ‘In Fighters' Footsteps’ trips to Golan

“A political provocation”, that is how members of the Peace with Syria movement defined plans by the Defense Ministry to take 45,000 high school on trips to the Golan Heights.


The trips are part of a project called “In Fighters' Footsteps”, which is meant to prepare the students for their military service.


Former Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Liel, who heads the movement, sent a letter Wednesday to Education Minister Yuli Tamir, urging her to prevent the participation of high schools in the project.


Copies of the letter were also sent to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i.


“This type of operation creates a fundamental contradiction between the government’s foreign policy, which declares a desire for peace with Syria, and its education policy, which is actively undermining the foundation of peace,” the letter said.


The letter also said the tours of the Golan were being used as “political propaganda sponsored by the education ministry”.


“We believe that as the minister of education, who has so far been recognized as being part of Israel’s peace camp, you must prevent the organized participation of high schools in this type of political provocation,” the letter said.


Due to the high school teachers’ strike, the teachers association prohibited the 45,000 students to take part in the “In Fighters' Footsteps” project.


However, some 2,000 students from 23 different schools have already visited the Golan Heights as part of the project, and a similar number of students each day are expected to do the same over the next two weeks.


The project was initiated by Avigdor Kahalani, head of the Defense Ministry’s Social-Defense Department.


“This is just an attempt to turn our blessed initiative into a provocation against the Syrians. Children hiking are a provocation? What, did we send up tanks, planes, cannons? We’re talking about a few kids hiking,” Kahalani said in response to Liel’s letter.


“We aren’t dealing with politics, we’re dealing with the legacy of battle,” Kahalani continued. “The central idea behind the ‘In Fighters' Footsteps’ initiative is to prepare the youth for the IDF through visits to the battle zones.


“Through these trips, we are connecting the students to the roots of the country, and passing the baton from one generation to the next. We have no doubt that this plan will make students want to be a part of the IDF,” Kahalani concluded.


פרסום ראשון: 10.11.07, 02:16
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