Towards the end of their military service, young Israelis are given another chance to obtain a school-leaving certificate if they don’t have it already. For three consecutive weeks, civic education is the order of the day. In uniform and with their guns always within reach, the students discuss pluralism, discrimination, human rights, the complex definition of the Jewish State and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The camera soberly observes the heated debates, in which alarmingly intransigent views are expressed. Apart from the liberal teacher, no one believes in the possibility of peaceful coexistence. Arabs are all terrorists who should be accorded no rights. Anyone who disagrees is disparaged as a “leftist”.
There’s no doubt that the attitudes of these young soldiers have been shaped by military discourse and their experiences within the army, serving to harden their positions and leaving them without the ability to differentiate. Yet given that nearly everyone in Israel passes through the institution of the military, the classroom becomes a microcosm of the majority of society. Perhaps life outside of the barracks will help them get a few things straight.