A school for tolerance?

The Max Rayne school in Jerusalem opened yesterday with the aim that it crosses religious divide to teach children a lesson in unity.

Racially and religiously mixed schools are a way to bridge the gap between deeply divided communities. The fact that parents accept to send their children to such schools is an acceptance on their parts for tolerance. But the article published in the Times shows that trust hasn’t been established yet among Arab and Jews. There is an extract in it when the mother asked her girl who had spent the night with an Arab girl ‘She didn’t try to kill you, she didn’t try to hurt you?”

This shows that mixing with Jewish and Arab pupils doesn’t go beyond school, which is in itself a failure. The aim is to prepare the members of these communities to share a peaceful life on their shared land. If at school they’re taught tolerance and at home they’re fed with hatred towards their peers from the other community, this is likely to foster even deep division when they grow up. It will be better to let these pupils to decide for themselves and to grow to accept one another. If not the aim of the school will just backfire as it will be a ground where they will have just further evidence why they shouldn’t coexist as they come there armed with their parents’ antagonistic views.

Cats and dogs are innately hateful of one another but they can grow into friends if conditioned to be so. Children are just conditioned by adults who see in them the continuity of their held belief. There are radicals who are against any normalisation likeYoshua Haham, an irate pensioner who said, I wouldn’t put my Jewish kids in with Muslims. I don’t want them to learn about Muslim culture. It is such people whose satisfaction is to destroy any bridge that can help communities with opposite views to cross to each other territories for mutual understanding and coexistence.

But as long as there is misunderstanding and even mistrust among pupils in this school without physical violence or damage, it is a good sign that one day they will come to their own conclusions about how they should live through direct contact and not just through inculcated notions.

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