For the last 26 years, educators at Dror Israel and its associated youth movement HaNoar HaOved have retold the story of the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z”l and the consequences of political incitement and disregarding the rules of democracy. And this year was no different. In the midst of another contentious national election cycle and in the general atmosphere of political despair, our educators travelled across the country, from the Negev desert to the northern Israel-Lebanon border to meet with Israeli citizens of all walks of life. The goal was to collectively remember the acts of incitement and Rabin’s dream of peace while highlighting the lessons we can learn from his tragic murder.
Dror Israel educators brought these discussions to more than 12,600 students and staff in the Israeli public school system this year, almost doubling the reach from last year. The timing and impact of these encounters was necessary as the public discourse surrounding the Israeli national elections proved to be divisive and potentially dangerous.
The thought-provoking programs were brought in the form of educational exhibits, nature hikes on Dror Israel’s interactive and commemorative “Rabin Hiking Trail” in northern Israel, “Democracy Walking Tours” in Tel Aviv, and productions of “Simple Math”, a hip-hop opera written and performed by Dror Israel educators retelling the story of Rabin’s life and murder while addressing current political and social issues.
New initiatives this year focused on training others to be educators in retelling the story of Rabin’s life, his fight for peace and the importance of strengthening social and political democracy. Dror Israel educators ran educational workshops for 34 groups of high school seniors who then in turn, ran educational programming for the younger grades in their own high schools. These peer-led programs reached over 300 groups of younger students in a powerful display of youth leading youth. Additionally, 25 workshops were run for school staff, equipping teachers across the country with the necessary tools to address the topics of incitement and civic engagement.
While “Democracy Month” may have come to an end for this current calendar year, here at Dror Israel our pursuit of strengthening Israeli democracy continues. By engaging diverse populations of Jewish, Arab and Druze Israeli citizens from the ages of preschool to senior citizens in a variety of civic activities, we hope to involve as many different kinds of people in community engagement and democratic processes. From grassroots community organizing in the southern city of Sderot to our therapeutic boarding school in the north of Israel, our work towards a more democratic Israel is not yet done.