by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
The American Center in Jerusalem, Israel is the U.S. cultural outreach facility of the U.S. State Department. In their own words…
The American Center is a section of the Office of Public Affairs (of the U.S. State Department) and is an information resource as well as an educational and cultural center with a range of activities aimed at the Israeli public. The Center strives to initiate and strengthen bonds between Israelis and the United States, and to promote understanding of U.S. policies, society, values, and culture. It also provides a platform for English language teaching.
The Center promotes public knowledge and awareness of these topics through its information services, cultural programs, exchange programs for groups and individuals and through social networks, and meetings with American experts, in cooperation with local institutions.
For those who don’t know, my family and I live in the Land of Israel. We made aliyah, immigrated and became American ex-patriots, from the United States. My wife and I, and all my children, maintain our American citizenship (though I understand the U.S. has made it cost thousands of dollars, multiple months, and require multiple meetings with a psychologist [the last may be a slight exaggeration – it’s multiple meetings with an embassy official] to give up one’s U.S. citizenship.)
My high school daughter’s English language class had a school trip to the American Center several weeks ago, a few days before the U.S. election. This sounded interesting to me before she went, as she’s now been in Israel for about half her life and her exposure to American culture is limited to American Jews who have moved to Israel and whatever Hollywood or Youtube garbage that leaks past our internet filters.
I have 4 children that were of age to vote in the U.S. election, and there was some heavy discussion on whether they should or not, wanted to or not, and whether it matters or not. We did limit our discussion of the candidates to the last few weeks before the election, THANK G-D. (Because who in their right mind wants to listen to the media blather on for a year about every triviality?) So my daughter was primed on political discussions, and on not accepting PROPAGANDA.
She expected her trip to be interesting…some of her advanced English class are Americans or from other English speaking countries, but some are Israeli – and they would be looking to her to help understand or explain (in Hebrew) some concepts that might be presented.
She arrived home and said “the trip was a nightmare!”. I asked what happened. “The whole trip was Democratic Party propaganda. They talked about the American governmental system…and how the Republicans have ruined it (by not voting for what Obama wants in Congress?). They talked about how Hillary is the most awesome candidate with the most experience of any candidate ever (somehow experience was not an important requirement for Obama?). They talked about how Trump was dangerous, racist, anti-Semitic, causing hatred in America.” Finally my daughter couldn’t stand it anymore and stood up and ask, loudly, if they were going to teach culture or Democratic Party propaganda? That didn’t American’s have a right to an alternative opinion? And she said this wasn’t just one person, this was the whole staff…the tour guide, the cultural attaché, the consultant representative.
After the tour her teacher (an Israeli) called her over. She was worried, would she get in trouble for challenging the “American officials”? Her teacher said, “thank you for responding to them, even I was surprised and getting sick of it.”
Apparently the U.S. State Department Office of Public Affairs had decided that foreigners must learn that only Democratic Party positions in the U.S. are valid, and Republican positions are dangerous. Way to teach U.S. democracy guys!