The first week of the coming school year will be dedicated to societal tolerance and opposition to all discrimination and hatred. So announced Education Minister Shai Piron today in a Knesset Education Committee session.
Piron, a rabbi and former co-dean of the Petach Tikvah Hesder Yeshiva, said, "During Operation Protective Edge, we have been exposed to expressions of racism and incitement that cannot be tolerated." He said the first week of school next month will feature discussions with students on tolerance, acceptance of others, and opposition to all racism.
The current mini-war in Gaza was preceded by the abduction and murder of three teen-aged youths – Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Sha'ar – by Palestinian terrorists of Hamas. Shortly thereafter, Piron noted, an Arab boy, Muhammed Abu-Khder, was killed by Jews. "I cannot accept that Israeli-Arabs, or leftists, or religious people, should feel like second-class citizens," Piron said. "Murder is murder, and as Jews and Zionists, we may not distinguish between blood and blood."
Following the original attack against the three youths, Israeli society was overtaken by a national sense of unity, especially while the IDF and volunteers searched relentlessly for the victims. The positive mood was largely initiated by the parents of the three, and especially by Rachel Frenkel, who appeared before national and international media shortly after the abduction and said, "We have tremendous gratitude for all the support and work that everyone in the security forces and government [and others] are doing to bring our boys home. We feel waves and waves of prayer and support and positive energy in our direction, and we ask that everyone continue to pray. The security forces will do their job, and we trust them – and everyone else, if you could please pray with us… G-d willing, we will be able to celebrate their safe return."
Only isolated cases of anti-Arab sentiment were reported, despite the unprovoked Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza and the ongoing anti-Israel incitement in the PA-controlled areas. The grieving Mrs. Frenkel even condemned the murder of Abu-Khder and tearfully said, "No parents anywhere should have to go through what we are going through now." She also called the victim's family to offer condolences.
The murder of Abu-Khder, on the other hand, was followed by several days of violent Arab rioting in Jerusalem and in many other areas of the country.