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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rabbi Wolpe Suspected Of Bribing Soldiers

Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe.

Right-wing activists questioned by police on suspicion of encouraging soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate illegal outposts by offering them money.

A rabbi suspected of offering financial incentives to soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate West Bank outposts heads the nonprofit association behind the Gush Katif Museum in Jerusalem.

On Gush Katif Day last Wednesday, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar toured the museum, which memorializes the Gaza settlements, evacuated in 2005. The museum is backed by the World Headquarters to Save the People and the Land of Israel (SOS-Israel ), headed by Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe.

The week before, Wolpe and right-wing activist Baruch Marzel had been questioned by police on suspicion of encouraging soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate illegal outposts by offering them money.

Although the museum's website lists SOS-Israel and Wolpe as being among "the people behind the museum," an SOS-Israel spokesman said on Monday that "there is no connection between the museum, the nonprofit association and the rabbi, other than in the past the rabbi initiated it."

Meanwhile, Peace Now director general Yariv Oppenheimer sent a scathing letter to Sa'ar following a report in Haaretz on Monday that revealed the contents of a curriculum on the evacuated settlements that was taught in nearly 800 schools last week.

Oppenheimer said the phones at Peace Now's offices had been ringing off the hook on Monday with angry callers, "who were shocked to read about the new lesson unit."

Oppenheimer writes to Sa'ar: "In the booklet your ministry is distributing, the story of the settlements in the heart of the Gaza Strip is told in a one-sided fashion, and misrepresents the situation to the pupils. The booklet doesn't make any mention of the heavy price the State of Israel had to pay for remaining in Gaza ... the whole question of the occupation and Israeli control of another people is left out of the lesson plan."

The curriculum, written by the Center for the Commemoration of Gush Katif and Northern Samaria under Education Ministry guidelines, includes a lesson unit called "My Zionism" that uses the Katif Bloc as a test case for Zionism.

The lesson plan calls for students to differentiate between "Zionist activities" and "good deeds," refers to former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg and veteran journalist Dan Margalit as "extreme left-wingers," and includes an essay by Im Tirtzu chairman Ronen Shoval. No mention is made of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza except in the context of Palestinian terror.

"Worst of all is the attempt by people in your ministry to revise the concept of Zionism," Oppenheimer wrote. "There is no more fitting way to describe this document than 'political brainwashing' and an effort to dictate a one-sided, right-wing, manipulative narrative.

The Education Ministry said on Monday that Sa'ar "does not know Rabbi Wolpe nor about his connection to the [museum]." The ministry also called Oppenheimer's letter "political and provocative," adding that the curriculum on the Gaza settlements "was formulated by the ministry's professional echelons.

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