Posted by: sean | July 23, 2007

Al-Nakba accepted into Israeli history books

The Times reports that a new edition of Arabic text books in Israel give the history of 1948 from both Jewish and Arab points of view:

The Arabic version of a new book for a third-grade course on homeland, society and citizenship, states that “some of the Palestinians fled and some were expelled following the War of Independence” and that “many Arab-owned lands were confiscated,” said an Education Ministry official, Dalia Fenig. It refers to the establishment of Israel as a catastrophe for the Palestinians.

The book also reflects the Jewish version of the establishment of the state, as have previous books for the Arab curriculum, including the fact that the Arab parties rejected the 1947 United Nations partition plan for Palestine while the Jews were willing to accept it. About 700,000 Arabs who lived in what is now Israel left during 1948 and 1949. About 20 percent of the current population of just over seven million are Arabs.

Unfortunately, the Arab point of view is not included in the Hebrew versions of the book. Baby steps, I suppose.

I cannot stress how important it is for a good curriculum that aims at objectivity to be used in schools. This is one of the major problems in Lebanon. There is no official history of the civil war, and each side hears of the war from its own clan, to the extent that young people in Lebanon hear about the civil war at all. In any case, this is a step in the right direction in Israel/Palestine, and the Ministry of Education should be applauded. 

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