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Jerusalem Arabs 'Expel' Israeli Textbooks

Arab schools in Jerusalem refuse to use Israeli-revised textbooks that omit Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, PA officials announce.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 9/8/2011, 2:34 PM

UNRWA school in Gaza
UNRWA school in Gaza
Flash 90

Arab schools located in Jerusalem neighborhoods claimed by the Palestinian Authority in its bid to become a new country are refusing to use Israeli-altered textbooks.

The principals and teachers in the schools have said they will not teach with Arabic-language materials that have been revised and altered by Israel's Ministry of Education, a PA official announced Wednesday.

To avoid using the new, revised textbooks, some 90 percent of the students attending the schools instead purchased the official PA versions, according to Samir Jibril, the PA official in charge of Jerusalem education. Jibril told the WAFA news agency the PA textbooks would be copied and distributed among the rest of the students.

“Every Palestinian school must only teach the Palestinian version of 2011 curricula textbooks that are produced by the Palestinian Ministry of Education,” Jibril told WAFA. He described the Israel Education Ministry's revisions to the PA textbooks in Jerusalem as “provocative” and accused the Jewish State of attempting to “distort historical facts and misinform students about the Palestinian identity and history.”

The dispute centers on an Israeli government decision to remove poems by PA poet Haroun Hashim Rashid, as well as all terminology relating to the intifada and references to Jerusalem as capital of Palestine. In addition, Israel's Education Ministry apparently replaced introduced the history of Jews in Jerusalem into the schools' textbooks on  Islamic religion and Arabic history, and replaced other information in the process.

Born in Gaza in 1927, one of Rashid's most famous poems is one called “A Refugee's Scream,” which has been translated into English.

“We will be back one day and bask in warm hopes / We will be back no matter how much time passes or the distance widens,” says the poem.

Like much of Rashid's work, the poem is focused on the PA “right of return” – the dream of the Arabs and their millions of descendants who fled Israel in 1948 and during the wars that followed that one day they will be able to return and be given back their homes.

This dream has been fed and nurtured like a festering ulcer through the decades by the attacking neighboring Arab countries that encouraged them to flee, and to which they fled. These countries then refused to accept them into their populations, forever holding them at arms' length apart in “refugee camps” for generations after, as political pawns, up to this day.

It is for this reason that the United Nations is forced to annually provide billions of dollars in support to the so-called “Palestinian refugees” – now many generations past – in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and in the numerous Arab countries around Israel, through its UNRWA agency.

Ahmad Rweidi, the PA official in charge of the Jerusalem department in the office of PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, told WAFA he considered the Israel Education Ministry decision “illegal, because Jerusalem is an occupied city.”

On Thursday, the PA officially launched its campaign to gain recognition as an independent, sovereign Arab country and membership in the United Nations.