Tourism Minister Yariv Levin on Tuesday submitted a proposal to Education Minister Naftali Bennett to require school trips to 10 heritage sites, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, reviving a previously scotched controversial plan.
The West Bank site, which is also holy to Muslims and parts of which are used as a mosque, is where tradition holds the graves of biblical patriarchs Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah.
“I believe that the touring of the sites by all schoolchildren will deepen the bond between our youth and our national heritage,” posted Levin on his Facebook page Wednesday morning. “And there is no doubt that it will have immense educational value and will strengthen the students’ connection with the country, its sites and its landscapes.”
Arab-Israeli tensions run high in Hebron, and in 1994 the cave became the site of the most infamous Jewish terror attack on Muslims when Baruch Goldstein opened fire on mosque-goers, killing 29 and injuring 25.
Jurisdiction over the city remains with the Palestinian Authority and the population is predominantly Muslim. There is, however, a small Jewish population in scattered settlement enclaves under Israeli military protection.
Levin’s list also includes the Western Wall, and the City of David site, both of which are located in East Jerusalem. The City of David in particular, located inside the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, has been the site of Jewish Arab tensions.
A similar proposal was introduced in 2012 by then-education minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud). In response, 260 parents and teachers signed a petition declaring their refusal to comply with the requirements of the Education Ministry on the grounds that it was too political. Sa’ar’s successor, Shai Piron, later scrapped the plan.
Also on Levin’s list is the Knesset, Masada, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, the Nimrod Fortress in northern Israel, the Knights’ Hall in Acre, and Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, the site of the Israeli declaration of independence on May 14, 1948.