Mon 9 Oct 2023 at 6:30pm - 8pm
Contact Max Korman () for more information.
New Israel Fund Australia (NIF) is proud to host This is Not an Ulpan (TINAU) for a 4-week course exploring democracy & citizenship in Israel. The course, carefully considered and presented by the unique voices of TINAU, will be hosted online for four weeks.
The political and social fabric in Israel hangs on the precipice of a crucial juncture, while the occupied territories seethe with intensified violence. Propelled by a coalition led by settlers, the nation marches forward, fraying the already delicate social bonds that once united Jewish-Israeli society. In parallel, Palestinian citizens of Israel grapple with the encroachment of formidable criminal organisations within their towns and neighbourhoods, a direct result of years of neglect. Simultaneously, a wave of positivity has swept over numerous Israeli citizens who have previously not been politically engaged. They are now enthusiastically participating in large-scale protests on a weekly basis. Vibrant discussions about democracy and its core values are taking centre stage. Some even earnestly challenge the legitimacy of the settler movement, rightly pinpointed as the leaders of the anti-democratic faction.
Unravelling this complex web from an external perspective can be demanding, as we work to identify patterns and understand the path that has led us to this point. Yet, the purpose of this course is to provide us with the necessary analytical tools to achieve precisely that. Over the course of four informative sessions, we will delve into the historical underpinnings that have moulded the environment and produced the situations we encounter today.
With TINAU expertise, this course also will immerse participants in learning that explore culture, language and social dynamics in Israel-Palestine. TINAU offers a unique perspective, rooted in diversity of background and thought. Operating as a cooperative, we come together – teachers and students, Jews and Palestinians, alongside international friends – in a non-hierarchical manner, poised to challenge the current reality. TINAU are academics, activists, artists and reporters - with a lot of experience on the ground and are dedicated to political and cultural education. TINAU holds steadfast commitment to nurturing hope while maintaining a realistic perspective is the driving force, infusing this class with an optimistic and practical outlook.
Read more about each session below.
Session #1 - Immigration, land and borders
October 9th 6:30pm
We will explore the significant influx of Jewish immigrants to Israel during its formative years, analysing how the settlement and treatment of these migrants were fundamental elements of a broader ideological framework. Despite reservations among many experts about the feasibility of such an ambitious endeavour and encountering steadfast public resistance, the Israeli government remained resolute in its commitment to facilitate this mass migration.
These immigrants were more than mere arrivals; they served as instruments strategically employed to fortify the boundaries of the emerging state and establish a demographic majority. However, this strategy also led to an unequal distribution of land and resources, a disparity that remains palpable in the contemporary landscape. This underlying inequality serves as one of the foundational factors driving the ongoing upheaval, as it fuels grievances against the elites (like the supreme court).
Session #2 - Suspended citizenship: The military rule over Palestinian citizens of Israel
October 16th 6:30pm
From 1948 to 1966, the small number of Palestinians who remained within Israeli territory after the war were granted Israeli citizenship. Nonetheless, this citizenship existed under a de facto suspension, as these individuals were subjected to a highly restrictive military rule. While the Israeli government justified this measure on grounds of security, a closer examination of military actions and available archival resources today unveils alternative motives that were at play.
The military governors of the time enacted a systematic land appropriation, channelling confiscated lands into the hands of Jewish citizens. Concurrently, they enacted measures to suppress independent political initiatives and actively nurtured the rise of compliant politicians, often tainted by corruption. The legacy of this military rule remains a deeply ingrained memory for Palestinian citizens of Israel, while its existence remains absent from the educational curricula of Jewish schools. This historical episode continues to cast a long shadow over the political engagement of Palestinian citizens, exerting a lasting influence even in the present day.
Session #3 - The occupied territories, chronic indecision and the rise of the settler movement
October 23rd 6:30pm
In the wake of the decisive triumph in 1967, Israel found itself grappling with the administration of freshly acquired territories, accompanied by an influx of thousands of Palestinian refugees. The centre-left coalition encountered formidable challenges in arriving at a definitive stance concerning the future of these territories. This struggle led to a fragmentation of public sentiment, preventing the consolidation of a unified policy concerning the newly incorporated subjects now under Israeli governance.
Simultaneously, a profound transformation was underway within the religious Zionist sector. This segment of society was rapidly evolving into a potent political entity, driven by an unwavering fixation on the establishment of settlements within the newly acquired territories. The narrative of the settler movement is fundamentally a narrative of the shortcomings of the Israeli left. Its inability to formulate consequential decisions and furnish its natural supporters with a coherent political roadmap created a void that was promptly occupied by a nascent political vanguard—the settler movement. At this point in time, we find ourselves grappling with the sombre consequences of this process, as the tragic results of these unfolding developments become painfully apparent.
Session #4 - The Bastion falls? The lacking constitution and politicisation of the supreme court
October 30th 6:30pm
Today, a dynamic mass protest movement has taken to the streets, creating a remarkable sight. Each weekend, a resounding chorus of over a hundred thousand individuals gather across the nation to voice their convictions. This diverse assembly includes those from the anti-occupation block, centre-right religious Zionists, and even many who had never before dipped their toes into political involvement. What unites and ignites their collective spirit is a shared commitment to safeguarding the judicial system against any assaults. While the current crisis finds its roots in deep-seated political and social factors that extend beyond the purview of the Israeli legal system, a curious alignment of various forces has coalesced around a common focal point: the incapacitation of the Israeli supreme court. Our endeavour involves delving into the historical evolution of this institution, its gradual politicisation as viewed by the centre-left as an avenue to indirectly influence political affairs, and the nuanced reasons why a considerable number of individuals in the Israel/Palestine context have cast a dubious eye on its claim of being a bastion of democracy.
Central to the matter is the intricate constitutional framework, or lack thereof, which has left the court's jurisdiction and authority in an ambiguous state. This uncertainty mirrors a complex game of chess, where the next moves remain uncertain. The looming inquiry pertains to the trajectory that lies ahead for this institution: What course of action will it chart in the unfolding narrative?
This is Not an Ulpan (TINAU) is a cooperative of Palestinian, Jewish, and international educators, students, and activists who believe in radical Hebrew and Arabic education as a tool for (re)shaping society.
TINAU was founded in 2012 by a group of teachers and students frustrated by their own Ulpan experiences where the language taught was too often removed from the real world. The group believed a language school should teach the language of everyday life (and in real-life situations where possible). The group also identified the lack of language schools teaching both Hebrew and Arabic and believed that in order to reduce cultural barriers within Israel that first the language barriers needed to be reduced.
Today TINAU stands out as one of the only language schools in Israel that teaches both Hebrew and Arabic and is run by Jews, Palestinians, locals and newcomers together. TINAU students can expect to learn in a refreshing style that doesn’t revolve around endless textbooks or grammar charts but to focus on speaking and everyday conversations that they will need once they leave the classroom.
You can read more about TINAU here and check out some of their other courses!
Matan Sandler Tadmor will be the lead educator during the course. Matan is an activist and an educator striving to promote social change through knowledge. He has a PhD in Jewish history and Israeli history specialising in migration. He teaches language, culture and history and talks about Jewish identity.