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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Israel angry over anti-Semitic postcards sent by Spanish schoolchildren

Rafi Shotz, Israel's ambassador to Spain, received dozens of postcards from elementary school students bearing statements including "Jews kill for money," "Leave the country to the Palestinians" and "Go somewhere where they will accept you."

A Foreign Ministry official said the handwriting appears typical of children six to nine years old.

"Some had very disturbing messages," an embassy spokesman said. "They asked things such as: 'Why do you kill children?' or said that 'money is not everything' and that if someone should leave, it should be the Israelis 'because it is not your land'.
"These are messages about a political situation that they do not understand. Most of these children probably do not even know where Israel or Palestine are."
The Foreign Ministry considered summoning Spain's ambassador to Israel, Alvaro Iranzo, to complain, but ultimately spoke to the envoy by telephone instead, Haaretz reported.
"Apparently there are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel individuals who get permission to operate within schools," the official said. "Each time, the embassy has received several dozen postcards from a different school. And it seems as though whoever is doing this is moving from school to school."
Naor Gilon, the ministry's deputy director for Europe, called Mr Iranzo and said "Israel is greatly distressed" by the postcards. The envoy insisted the letters are not part of any Spanish Education Ministry program, but the initiative of private citizens.
Joan Malonda, the head teacher of El Castell primary school in Almoines, confirmed that the hand-drawn cards had come from his pupils, the Guardian reports.

He denied the children were being indoctrinated.
"A lot of this work was done at home and reflects the atmosphere in their own social environment. They were simply asked to write a postcard on the subject.
"We try to teach the children to have a critical attitude, but we also want them to contrast their criticism against other points of view."