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A teacher in class with a gun

When I was in high school (16-17 years old) we had a math teacher who wore a handgun on his belt. It was whispered that he was a settler, though I didn’t really know what that word meant then. I think he told us that it was “for self-defense” because he lived in a “dangerous area”. The boys considered him a nice teacher and I accepted that, although to me he seemed bad tempered and not very pleasant. Nothing special ever happened with the gun, it was just very present. To identify that teacher from behind, in the hallway, I would look for the gun on his belt. I remember taking a ride home with him. While it was nice of him, looking back, I was a girl in a car with a strange armed man.

The gun was present in school for as long as the teacher was, surrounded by students and staff. We students talked among ourselves, made jokes about it: “If you make any trouble in class, teacher will shoot you.” We never discussed it with any of the adults around; no one ever referred to it. I definitely noticed the gun and found it disturbing but I had no terms for understanding what disturbed me and addressing it. I think I convinced myself that it was ok and safe because he was a teacher and “teachers aren’t violent towards students,” and if anything ever happened (because we were always being told about the “security situation”) he could “protect us.” In retrospect, this was a dangerous thought because if “anything” had happened, as someone who wasn’t part of the security forces, he lacked the training or instructions for such situations. It would have been better for him not to draw his gun under any circumstances.

Today it’s clear to me the whole situation was very dangerous. At any given moment the teacher or someone next to him could have drawn the gun, and this was an environment of mostly kids. It is also an absurd situation from a pedagogic perspective, one that only the Israeli education system could allow.



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