This past weekend, a Palestinian woman named Hana Shalabi, was freed by Israeli forces following a 40 day hunger protest. She is now the second Palestinian to be freed by Israel this year following an extended hunger strike... Khader Adnan was released in February after a 66 day strike.
Both people were being held by Israeli forces as part of its "administrative detention" law. The law states that Israel may hold anyone suspected of terrorist activity against the State of Israel, especially Palestinians. The prisoners are held without a trial and are not allowed an official defense; Israeli officials claim this policy is due to the fact that such a trial would release information which could threaten Israeli national security. The prisoners are sentenced to six month prison terms... which can be renewed indefinitely. According to the latest reports, there are about 300 administrative prisoners currently being held in Israel.
Ms. Shalabi is suspected of planning acts of terror against Israel and is believed to be in the process of planning a suicide attack against the country. She has times to the organization known as "Islamic Jihad" and this is not the first time she was been arrested.
The issues concerning Israel and the Palestinians are complicated and multifaceted; essentially the crux of the issue stems from long standing territorial disputes with both groups claiming the same relatively small area of land.
If you have ever attempted to conduct research here at Pilgrim High School, you are aware that the process can be, at best, frustrating. Just when you feel you have found the perfect website, that all too familiar page appears, "access denied."
What are these purposes of these blocks? We know they are intended to stop students from accessing inappropriate or offensive material... but as a history teacher, I can tell you with one-hundred percent certainty, that certain topics in history are offensive, and these topics needs to be explored in order for students to fully understand their impact.
As I begin to rebuild my unit covering World War II, Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust, I find myself blocked at almost every turn. The term "Nazi" cannot be researched because it can lead to online hate groups... it is pretty difficult to study World War II without referencing the Nazi Germany. Some pages leading to the Holocaust are blocked for similar reason... and forget searching the "rape of Nanking" - one of the most brutal events of the Pacific theater during World War II.
Not being able to research primary documents and not allowing access to sites such as YouTube and Skype are serious errors in how we are educating our children in the digital age. With YouTube we can watch footage of the battle fields in France, speeches given by Hitler and FDR, the liberation of concentration camps around Europe, and a host of other topics.. with Skype we can communicate with students and teachers from across the Globe, truly bringing the world to our students...
It is time our education philosophy catches up with our technological capabilities....