Tourists enjoy the sites in Jerusalem
Tourists enjoy the sites in Jerusalem Nati Shohat/Flash 90

The Flagbearers, a group of Labor Party activists who think their party has veered too far to the left, rebuked Labor MK Stav Shaffir Monday for her controversial statements regarding the status of Jerusalem in Jewish history. Shaffir had criticized Education Minister Naftali Bennett – who announced that this year's theme in Israel's schools will be Jerusalem – for stating that Jewish history began in Jerusalem, and claimed that it had begun "in Egypt," or "at Mount Sinai."

"Stav, this is pettiness," the Flagbearers wrote on their Facebook page, which boasts more than 4,000 supporters. "It's true that broadly speaking, you got the facts right. The first Biblical mention of the Israelites as 'the Nation of Israel' was, indeed, only in Egypt. Unintentionally, you entered into a Jewish-religious debate over when and how we coalesced from 12 different tribes into a nation… You summarized an entire debate fitting of a lesson in Judaism into a tweet, and the result was what you'd expect.

"But even in the detailed post you wrote on Facebook, it seemed as though you were brushing off the unassailable bond between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, our capital," they argued. "It isn't clear what bothers you about the school year centering on Jerusalem.  What good did attacking Bennett on this subject do? After all, a survey of Labor's voters would find that most of them would not oppose this and would even be glad for their children to learn about Jerusalem."

Secular Jews, too, feel the deep bond between the Jewish people and Jerusalem's "history, archaeology and tradition," they stated, but also to its spiritual essence, as the place that Jews pray to three times a day. "It is not for nothing that Zionism was named for Jerusalem," they noted.

The decision to dedicate the school year to this subject was reached because of the jubilee year of Jerusalem's liberation, the activists added – noting that during the Six Day War, Labor's Levi Eshkol was prime minister, and future PM Yitzchak Rabin was chief of staff.

The Flagbearers are a group of Labor activists who think their party has veered too far left in recent years, and seek a return to the party's security-based agenda of yesteryear.

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