8th-Graders´ Activism: Won´t Answer Democracy Test Questions

Israel's 8th-graders are scheduled to take a special test tomorrow on selected concepts in Jewish tradition, Zionism and democracy. Many students will be "boycotting" the democracy section, however.

, | updated: 16:38

In an initiative originating in the Yesha community of Neriah, many students have studied the material intensively - but will refuse to answer questions relating to democracy. Instead, they plan to write, "With a distorted democracy like the current one, we feel that we are unable to answer these questions."

Arutz-7 spoke today with one of the organizers of the campaign, Shulamit. Asked what bothers her about Israel's democracy, she said, "Freedom of speech is limited, and Prime Minister Sharon changed his mind [about the disengagement] without receiving a new mandate from the nation."

Shulamit and her friends therefore came up with the idea of putting their thoughts about Israel's democracy in words instead of in pre-determined multiple-choice answers. They disseminated the idea throughout the country, and say that many of their friends and their classmates are planning to adopt the idea. "We have called schools in Ashkelon, Shaalvim, Ramat Gan, Nov in the Golan, Jerusalem, Kedumim, Beit El, Haifa and many other places," Shulamit said.

The Education Ministry recently prepared a core program of 100 basic concepts that it would like its students to master. Among the Jewish-tradition concepts are the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, mourning practices, the Holy Temples, synagogue and what's found inside, doing kindness, the Jewish calendar, Jewish Law, holidays, the Sages, the Exodus and the Mt. Sinai stand, keeping kosher, the prayerbook, Sabbath, the Oral Law and the Bible.

Among the concepts on the Zionism list are Eli Cohen (an Israeli spy hanged in Syria in 1965), pre-State military groups, David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, the Balfour Declaration, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Yad Vashem, the establishment of the State of Israel, Israel's wars, pre- and post-State immigration to the Land, immigrant absorption, Yitzchak Rabin, Chana Senesh, and more.

The democracy section is designed to teach the following concepts: Man in the image [of G-d]; social charter; Geneva convention; human rights and children's rights charters; Supreme Court; democracy; humanism; Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state;" the executive branch of the government; pluralism; equality; flag and other national symbols; Law of Return; and more.

Separate lists have been prepared for religious and Zionist concepts for the Arab and Druse sectors.