Sunday, December 30, 2012

Are Teachers in Israel Armed?

For the third time on my Facebook feed, a friend mentioned that Israeli teachers are armed in their classrooms. I know this to be untrue, my Israeli husband says it’s untrue, but I figured, what the heck, I will ask Israelis who I know who are geographically and politically diverse who live in Israel right now whether or not teachers are armed.

The media claim that Israel has armed teachers stemmed from the Sandy Hook tragedy two weeks ago.  There are those who claim that to save our children from the mentally deranged, we should arm our teachers, just like Israel does.

Only in common practice, Israel does not actually arm its teachers.

What propelled me to email Israeli friends just to make sure is that today’s source of the misinformation is located on Fox News web site and is written by a freelance journalist who lives in Israel, giving the piece some unfortunate credibility. And even more disturbing, 1.8 million people liked the article on Facebook.

I’m not sure if the author intended to be misleading and hysterical or if it was the work the editors at Fox News.  The headline reads, “Armed Teachers, Guards Bolster security in Israel.” In addition, the article is illustrated with a horrible AP photo of kids in Israel wearing gas masks, which was probably from a drill at some point.

The photo is classic sensationalism and out of context. The headline, as the article somewhat details, is just not true. This is somewhat admitted  by the author himself, although his explanation is totally contradictory and the sentence is pretty meaningless, “And the idea of armed teachers in the classroom, which stirred much controversy in the wake of the U.S. attack, has long been in practice in Israel, though a minority of them carry weapons today.

So what did my Israeli friends say?

I can't say I recall seeing any teachers with guns on them in school. Many have licenses to carry them because they live in occupied territory but I don't think they walk around armed...
- Vivian, teacher and mother of school aged children, Kiryat Gat.

I work at a school - teachers don't carry guns in schools
.-  Omri, school administrator and father of school aged children, Jerusalem

As far as I know and from our experience, teachers in Israel are not carrying guns
. – Sarit, special education teacher and mother of school aged children, Lachish

From my experience as a student in Israel- we didn't had any teachers with guns in school but I'm assuming that in the West Bank there are more people with firearms license and some of them are probably teachers
. -  Hila, cultural emissary, Tel Aviv.

What an outrageous lie!  Teachers do not carry guns
. - Sarah, curriculum writer and mother of school aged children, Modiin.

I have never seen a teacher carrying a gun in school in my life
  Shlomo, MD, PHD, Jerusalem

Totally disconnect from reality. Anyway, I am not aware at all of such practice. Sounds to me like science fiction. – Yariv, businessman, Bazra

No, teachers in Israel do not carry guns. – Michal, educational tourism, Tel Aviv

The one thought that a lot of people who wrote to me had was that maybe teachers in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) carry weapons because there are more threats there. I only asked one person who lives in a settlement there and he responded,

“Most teachers in Judea and Samaria don't carry guns in school,” Aaron, tourism, Ofra.

So what is true? What is the law?

In Israel, if a teacher is given the authority by the municipality and the Ministry of Education, he/she can carry a weapon in school. However,  that permission is given in very rare circumstances, so much so that the people I talked to are not even conscious of the possibility.

Every Israeli school has an armed guard, this is true, but the James Bond teachers are part of a mythology being spread currently by the NRA and news outlets.

Israel has a lot to offer to the United States, especially in technology and medicine. However, looking to
Israel to help us solve our school shooting problems is just not the answer, even if it gets your article likes on Facebook.

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