WASHINGTON – In America, public school students aren’t likely to hear about the Bible on the first day of classes.
But, in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with 200 students, along with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and urged them to be serious about Bible study – in the public schools.
Reminiscing about his school days, Netanyahu told the students to learn and “be good children.” In his speech, he emphasized coexistence and, at the same time, the importance of learning Jewish history.
“I want you to listen to me because I want you to learn – learn to write, learn to read, learn Hebrew, Arabic and English,” he said. “I want you to learn mathematics. I want you to learn science. I want you to learn history – history of the Jewish People, the history of your public. I want you to learn the truth, and the truth says that we were destined to live together.”
He continued, “I want you to be doctors, scientists and writers, and be whatever you want to – and are able to – be. I want you to be loyal citizens, integrated into the state of Israel; this is your state.”
The prime minister unconsciously echoed the Book of Proverbs when he instructed the students to listen to their parents and their teachers.
“Learn well. Go back home and do what mother and father tell you,” he told them.
Later, Netanyahu made an address to Israel’s students at large, exhorting them to learn the Bible in order to understand “why we are here” in Israel.
“First of all the study of the Bible,” he said. “We must make a major effort, this is the basis for why we are here, why we have returned here, why we stay here.”
Netanyahu takes his own advice and conducts Bible studies at his version of the “White House” in a “Bible study club” – a tradition begun by the first prime minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion.
He also met with contestants in a Bible knowledge competition in which students from around the world participate. He invited them to come to Israel to visit, to study and to live in the Jewish state.