Daily Israel Report

Israel Education Ministry 'Nakba' Curriculum

The Education Ministry has approved a curriculum for Israeli Arab schools to teach that the founding of the State of Israel was a “catastrophe."
By Hana Levi Julian and Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 7/22/2007, 12:49 PM

Arab schoolchildren in Israel will be taught next year that the founding of the State of Israel was a tragedy (Nakba in Arabic) in accordance with a widespread Arab view of the event.

 

The Education Ministry, headed by Prof.Yuli Tamir (Labor), has approved adding the Arab version to the curriculum in response to calls by Arab nationalists who requested the “Nakba” version be taught in their schools.

 

The new directive approves a Grade 3 textbook "Living Together in Israel," which was written by Arabs who left their homes during the 1948 War of Independence and claim that Israel took their land.  The textbook evenhandedly points out that the Arab nations refused to accept the United Nations partition plan creating the Jewish State and a new Trans-Jordan country. 

 

"The Arab narrative deserves to be told in Israel," Tamir explained.  Arab MKs congratulated her for her decision, though immediately raised new demands. Arab MK Hana Sweid said Tamir should now incorporate Arab poetry into Jewish school curricula, while MK Jamal Zechalke called for "Arab cultural autonomy" under which Arabs would solely determine Israeli-Arab schools' curricula regarding Arab history and culture.


Other Responses

Reactions from the right were very sharp.  MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) said that Prime Minister Olmert, as part of his gestures to PA chairman Abu Mazen, might as well propose that PA officials run Israel's Education Ministry.  Porush said that Tamir's decision was shameful and should be retracted.


Former Education Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) declared that teaching Arab children the "Nakba" version of Israel's creation will encourage them to later work against the nation.

 

MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP), a former Director-General of the Education Ministry, called upon Prime Minister Olmert to fire Tamir for making an "anti-Zionist decision that erases Jewish history and denies the State of Israel as a Jewish state.  The Education Minister gives Arabs the legitimacy not to recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people.  This decision marks the "Nakba" of Israel's education network."


Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed Tamir as “expressing not only post-Zionism but also political masochism... The Israel left always complicates itself trying to justify the other side without understanding that there is nothing to justify.”

 

Moshe Feiglin, running for Likud Party Chairman on behalf of the party's Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction, said, "If it is OK to teach Israeli[-Arab] schoolchildren that the Jewish victory in the War for Independence and the establishment of the Jewish State are actually a catastrophe, this means that the State of Israel is an illegitimate and temporary body...  Yuli Tamir hereby reveals that she does not identify with the Jewish claim over the Land more than with the Arab claim.  If we do not hurry and give Israel a leadership that truly believes in the justness of our existence, Israel will be erased from the map."


Tamir's History
Teaching the "Nakba" to Arabs is the latest in a number of dramatic moves by Tamir, a left-wing professor and Peace Now founder who has campaigned against subsidies for Jewish religious education while backing Arab nationalist programs.

 

Last year, she ordered that maps of Israel show the 1949 Armistice Line, also known as the Green Line, which draws the borders of Israel as it existed before the Six-Day War in 1967.