THE CHILDREN OF GAZA AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL
In recent days, a teacher at the Righi High School in Rome has made national headlines for alleged improper behavior towards an Italian-Israeli student who was made uncomfortable, according to newspaper reports, by the way the teacher chose to address the Israeli-Palestinian issue in classroom. The news strikes me a lot, not so much for the details always reported in approximate and sensationalist terms by the newspapers, but because it forces me to ask myself questions. If it’s true, as he wrote in the article “It’s a strange game…” Dr. Maria Giubettini published last week on this blog about what is happening in the Gaza Strip, that “in the end the winning move is not to play“, I wonder, however, as a teacher I can remain silent in the face of the horror of what is happening and above all with respect to the violent narrative built on the <<which side are you, with the Jews or the Palestinians?>> or worse << with the terrorists of Hamas or with the democracy of Israel?>>.
Isn’t it my duty to talk to the students about what is happening? Because yes, in short, it’s not like I can continue to talk about the conspiracy of Catiline, or Dante Alighieri as if nothing had happened, while my students are bombarded every day by atrocious images or ideological narratives and maybe they don’t even know where Palestine is!
<<Who makes you do that?! You enter a minefield. You risk offending the sensibilities of some parents! >> some of my colleagues tell me. What about the students? And their sensitivity? and their right to know, to understand, to “see”.
I am then reminded of the words of the former Minister of Education Maria Stella Gelmini who, in a 2010 interview with Corriere della Sera (which at the time, I confess, made me jump in my chair!), said “If a teacher wants to be a politician, he must leave school and get elected. That is the place for his battles, not the chair.”
Oh no! One cannot confuse “doing politics” with “ideological indoctrination”! Teaching is already a political act in itself if by politics we mean the confrontation on everything that concerns us and that we live. But what image of a teacher and a person could I propose to my students if I accepted even the idea that there can be taboo topics among human beings that cannot be talked about or, worse, that it is possible to legitimize disinterest, lack of affectivity in the face of the pain and tragedy of two peoples
I am a teacher and, fortunately for me, I do not have to convey a religious confession or a revealed truth but I can and I want to reflect with my students on the enormous horror of what is happening, on the children of Gaza, on the children of Israel, on the broken lives… ‘Cause the end of those lives concerns me… It affects us, all of us.