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  • Posted August 8, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    New violence in Israel and West Bank

    The Israel-Gaza Conflict: The Ongoing Effects of Indoctrinating the Youth


    The Israel-Palestine conflict traces back to the mid-20th century. Following the 2006 parliamentary elections, Hamas, an Islamic political party, won a huge majority of the seats in the Palestinian Parliament, defeating the political organization Fatah. The Gaza Strip, an exclave of Palestine that borders Egypt to the south and Israel to east, then came under Hamas control. What followed are a series of missile attacks, air strikes, and blockades from 2006 to 2014 that set the stage for the escalation that began in July of 2014, which helped spur documentation on the consequences of the conflict. A report made by The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, on August 8 revealed that 1,849 people have died and 187,000 have been displaced in Gaza so far this summer. To analyze the results of this report and to analyze the history of the conflict would reveal that Israeli and Palestinian children play an important role in the developments and the longevity of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    Accusations have targeted both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for indoctrinating the youth. Textbooks on both sides have shown attempts at conditioning the youth's mind to feel enmity towards each other. What is presented in the textbooks are single-sided narratives of history. This has created a biased knowledge and attitude in the youth, an attitude laced with hostility and contempt. With textbooks devoid of multiple sides to the narrative of the conflict between Palestine and Israel, hesitation towards the conflict, consideration for "the other side," and empathy are less likely to be fostered. In actuality, the single-sided narratives are likely to encourage the youth to embrace and join the conflict which would perpetuate the current state; inheriting conflict will likely only increase its longevity.

    The indoctrination is instilled deeper into the children's lives through military training and service in the educational curriculum. In Israel, there is a youth corp program for teenagers. While Gadna, a department of the Israel Defense Forces, is neither a requirement nor is it mandated, the pre-training program does possess an appeal from the rewards that are promised to those who complete it and join the IDF. The program, which is a week long, includes treks at night, shooting exercises, and training in squad-sized groups. The goals of the program are obvious: it is another attempt at indoctrinating the youth, an attempt at fostering enmity. Of the 73,000 11th grade students in Israel, up to 19,000 are involved in the training program, and there are interests in the state to expand participation.

    Palestinians, on the other hand, have more developed methods at indoctrinating the youth to join the militaristic efforts of the state, and their tactics at doing so are, too. There are both summer training camps and a military training program that is a weekly elective at high schools. The summer camps are two to three weeks long, and they see about 25,000 Palestinian students in attendance. Dispersed among 90 camps, the summer program is run by military leaders in charge of psychological warfare. The program includes inculcating history and militaristic values, assault weapon training, kidnapping, and ambushing, as evident in the mock kidnapping of an Israeli leader. The staged kidnapping, which involves camp participants playing the role of the Palestinian commandos, serves as an indication of the militaristic guidance the Palestinian youth are exposed to. The weekly military training electives at high schools offer similar training. Besides the physical conditioning and experience with weapons, the high school program also involves instilling values of sacrifice and courage and battle tactics directed towards Israelis. What are being bred through indoctrination are soldiers. There is an emphasis on military education rather than the liberal arts or sciences in both states.

    The Israel-Palestine conflict has a long history. The events that have occurred this past summer between the Palestinian exclave of Gaza and Israel serve as an indication that this conflict has no stable conclusion in the near future. Children on both sides are exposed to heavy indoctrination, prolonging this nearly half of a century old conflict. While indoctrination continues in Israel and Palestine, Gaza, heavily affected by the conflict--1,849 Palestinians have been killed and over 187,00 displaced--faces the conflict firsthand; this exposure creates attitudes and motives similar to the effects of indoctrination. Inheriting conflict, educating conflict, and exposure to conflict only perpetuates conflict; the children of both states are experiencing and living conflict. To end an almost half century old conflict, the children must be the focus; they must be educated and directed to.

    Written by Jeffrey Nix

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