Everyone keeps saying “This is history. Israel had existed for 66 years and every time something new happens, it is history.” I suppose they’re right. But coming from a slightly older country (roughly 238 years) nothing I do is considered “innovative”, “new”, or “historical”, so it’s hard for me to hop on board with this idea that I am part of a group that is “making history”.
So this is the first year Israel is opening public schools for an 11th month. Normally, they’re open for 10 months of the year and then there is summer vacation, but this will be the first year that students, entering 2nd and 3rd grades, across the country will be able to go to summer school for English learning. If this works out, next year, students entering 4th and 5 grades will also receive the opportunity to attend summer school, etc. However, with continued support and funding from foundations like The Schusterman Foundation and The Steinhardt Foundation students entering 4th, 5th, and 6th grades are receiving that opportunity this year. In Nazareth Illit, and Migdal HaEmek, two municipalities in the Galilee, we’ll be teaching them. The program is called, The Israel Program for Excellence in English or TALMA (Hebrew Acronym).
So yes, assuming this doesn’t crash and burn, it is history. I am part of the first summer school program in the country of Israel.
So we get our lesson plans together, and we talk to our co-teachers, and we meet our principals, and we see our schools, and we practice, and plan, because “history” begins tomorrow.
But the funny thing about history is that it’s like a television show that has jumped the shark. New story lines are always beginning but the old ones are never ending, and everything is getting more complicated and confusing and intertwined and before you know it, you have to quit watching the show, because you just can’t keep up.
But you can’t quit history.
History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past running into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.
- John F. Kennedy
Around 9:00 pm Israel time tonight, everyone receives alerts, from their phones, their computers, the NYTimes, Twitter, CNN, etc. And my partner and I had just finished planning for tomorrow, which will be an alphabet and early literacy lesson revolving around sandwiches. Tomorrow was supposed to be all about sandwiches, until the alerts come in.
At first all you hear is “maybe”, “it isn’t confirmed”, “the IDF doesn’t know”, but everyone knows. The bodies of the three missing Israeli teens have been found. They went missing over 2 weeks ago in the West Bank, and were presumed to be kidnapped by Hamas. Hamas denied that they were behind the kidnapping, but commended the kidnappers.
So they have been found. Outside Hebron, under piles of rocks, these boys were found, Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, all shot to death.
(NYTimes Article about the found bodies)
But these weren’t the only tragedies of the kidnapping. As a result of the disappearance of the boys, Israeli security operations swept through the West Bank, raiding homes, arresting those believed to be in connection with the kidnapping, detaining over 330 people and leaving “…at least five Palestinians dead”(see the article). I have so many things to say about this, about the syntax, and about the poor word choice (“left at least five dead..” they didn’t just leave and the people died, they were killed, why can’t we just say that? They were killed, just like the Israeli boys. And why do we say “at least five”? We don’t know how many Palestinians were killed, but we know how many Israelis went missing to result in those Palestinian deaths.) but one of the most important things is that one of the “at least five” was Mohammed Jihad Dudeen, 15, and he was also, just as much a boy as the ones found tonight.
(NYTimes Article about Mohammed)
Mohammed was called a martyr for resisting the Israeli searches. His mother even locked him in the house and hid the key under her pillow so that he would not get in trouble by confronting Israeli security who had been searching homes in the middle of the night. She knew her son was passionate, and she knew she needed to protect him, but Mohammed jumped out the window and was shot through heart after throwing rocks at an Israeli solider.
The news is reporting that the Israeli boys were innocent boys returning from school. Linguistically, they’re being called “our boys”. They were our boys and they were just going to school. Was Mohammed any less innocent? Why is he not one of “our boys”? Because he lives across the border? Because he was throwing rocks?
Between the disappearance of the Israeli boys and the finding of their bodies, the NYTimes published at third article about the mother of one of the missing boys, and the Mohammed’s mother. These two women ended up having to suffer through the same pain of losing a son, just weeks apart, and just miles apart. Neither can blame their own child, and neither can blame the other’s child, so how can we?
(NYTimes Article about the mothers)
So now tomorrow is not all about sandwiches. Tomorrow, everyone will hold their children a little tighter and realize that this story line, this conflict, this history, has not ended. And maybe they’ll be open to starting a new storyline and sending their kids to a new school program, to be a some small part of a new, more optimistic, history. But who could blame them if they didn’t? Who could blame them if they wanted to just quit this storyline, give up on this television show, turn off the TV and for a minute, be swept aside by history itself?