What Will We Teach Our Children About Shira’s Murder?

Author: WDG Staff (translated by Yanir Dekel for A Wider Bridge)
Source: WDG
Published: May 16, 2016

The new Civics book that was presented last week for public inspection introduces the murder of Shira Banki as a murder that was based on religious grounds, and does not include any references to the LGBT struggle for equality.

The Ministry of Education introduced the new citizenship book, titled “Being citizens of Israel – a Jewish and democratic state”. The book, which was edited after a draft that had been leaked was criticized for its unilateral positions, seems more balanced but still holds a problematic attitude towards certain subjects.

The book mentions Shira’s murder, appearing on the page featuring “expressions of political violence in Israeli society”, which are divided into four categories: violence based on the national divide, on an ideological-political background, on the background of a sense of discrimination against ethnic groups, and on the religious divide. The last category states the examples: “throwing stones at cars traveling on Saturday and the murder of the girl Shira Banki at the Gay Pride parade in 2015”.

Aside from references to the murder, there’s no further reference to the LGBT community’s struggle for equal rights. Also there was criticism about inadequate reference to the problems of the Arab minority and a poor presentation of the ethnic divide.

The Aguda responded on the publication of the book: “We are pleased with the decision of the Ministry of Education to teach the future citizens of Israel about tragic consequences of hatred and non-acceptance of the other, but it should’ve been clearer about the circumstances of the incident in which the late Shira Banki’s blood was shed in the name of religious extremism. For this kind of despicable event has a clear definition and it’s a heinous hate crime. We have but to hope that in the next edition of the book, students of Israel will get to understand in depth the extent of the phenomenon that is growing and be educated to eradicate it from the Israeli climate immediately, on whichever background it may be.”

The Ministry of Education claims that the book “presents complexes issues , brings dilemmas to the surface and is not decisive on any issue. Throughout the book there is a focus on the key issues of concern to Israeli society – to enable teachers and students to be exposed to and recognize a variety of perspectives, attitudes and approaches in the areas of democracy, liberalism and nationalism. The goal: formulating a worldview – each according to what is appropriate for him.”