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A Letter to the TINAU Community

To the This is Not an Ulpan Community,

Like many of you, I too am experiencing the difficult days in which we are faced with the horrors, the mass murder of innocent people, the blood, and the terror that are everywhere. In the face of the narrowing of critical leftist spaces in the societies in which we live, in the face of the clouds of fake news and political reductionism, and in the face of separation and nationalist discourse. This is Not an Ulpan (TINAU) persists in opposition to all this - as we have for over 10 years now - from a position of humanistic and critical education, a position which we need now more than ever.

At the foundation of our educational position stands the recognition of the individual as a subject, as a complete world. From this, our teachers aim to create educational spaces based on the values of equality, freedom, justice, tolerance and the full and unwavering respect of rights - be they human, civil, community or gender rights. TINAU's education is also an education for compassion: for standing up to any and all oppression, for taking on human responsibility, and for constantly striving for a just life in peace. Furthermore, in the face of the unique challenges of our contemporary lives, lived through smartphones and social media, we take pride in maintaining an educational position that strengthens intellectual integrity and literacy in the face of the flood of news. We teach our students how to strive for the truth, and how to differentiate between what we would like to be true, what we fear is true, and what the facts, as we can understand them, attest to be true. In addition to all of this, we demand for the recognition of the structures, forces, principles, and laws that operate in our society, and demand a new order. This is our educational position.

Engaging in humanistic-critical education in the time of occupation, apartheid, and war, especially the one we find ourselves in now, where we are confronted by the horrors of massacres that our lexicon lacks the words to describe, is a difficult task. However, the mission of enlightened education demands it. This is the order of our hour.

I return to Bourdieu, who asserts that language is not just an empty tool for transmitting information, but a medium full of meaning in itself, used to create and preserve internalized social structures. Language, in our context, Hebrew and Arabic, influences our way of thinking, defines and shapes reality, and serves as a central identity tool. Hence, language is a political tool first and foremost and its use is political. Every struggle and every reform is carried out through language, by means of language, and within language. Knowledge of Hebrew and Arabic in Israel and Palestine is an important condition for active participation in local struggles and for creating deep political alliances. It is critical to remember that the most important and radical actions we can take are connecting struggles and creating solidarity among people, creating active resistance to injustices, expressing empathy and the ability to listen, and creating a space where activists can come together harmoniously and share a common language. These actions are both an active resistance to separation and the existing social structures as well as a foundation upon which we can demand a new social order.

Resist! Oppose apartheid, oppose the killing of civilians, oppose war! Learn language with us from a humanistic-critical perspective, and from a demand for change.

Help us stay afloat during these dark times. Unfortunately, as we find ourselves at a critical juncture in our growth and development, the recent terrible events have forced many students to cancel their participation. If you agree with our positions, if you want to see more of TINAU, please consider donating to our cooperative, or register today for our upcoming semester's Arabic and Hebrew courses. Alternatively, we would appreciate any help in reaching a wider audience. You are also welcome to join the cooperative, or contribute in any way that feels right to you. Join us.

I will do everything in my power to safeguard this space and the alternative realities TINAU succeeds in creating, not only during these challenging times, but at all times.

Hoping for better days and soon,

Noa Friehmann

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