Which one of these people doesn’t fit with the other two? On the left is Yuli Tamir of Labor, education minister under the Olmert administration just a few months ago. She thought that state policy should be to educate its citizens about how the very existence of the state is a catastrophe and, and put Arab “Nakba”” studies into the elementary school geography curriculum for the Arab sector. On the right we have current Education minister Gideon Sa’ar of Likud, who decided yesterday that that isn’t such a good idea, and the state should refrain from teaching its citizens about how catastrophic it is.
In the center is Limor Livnat also of Likud, education minister under Ariel Sharon, who introduced the whole idea of putting the Nakba into the curriculum in the first place. Surprising? She’s in the Likud, a right wing party, but as the political saying goes, “Only the Likud can.”
What that generally means is that when the Left is in power, the Right tries to stop any Left wing policy such as Nakba Studies from coming into fruition. However, when the Right is in power and actually does implement Left wing policies as Limor Livnat did with the Nakba, the Left votes with them and it gets passed. Hence the saying, “Only the Likud can.”
Aside from Nakba studies being an initiative of the Likud under Livnat, the bigger question is, Does it even matter what’s in the Arab curriculum? Israel suddenly thinks it can stamp out Arab consciousness of Israeli independence as catastrophe by removing it from a textbook? Who enforces the curriculum, and how does it work? Will the Arab Israeli public suddenly come to a cathartic realization that, “Hey, the Nakba isn’t in the geography books anymore. I guess we shouldn’t teach it?”
It is difficult to say what the effect of this reversal will be, if anything. What can be said for sure though is that at least the State will no longer be spending money teaching its citizens that it is, essentially, a catastrophe. Most States can get that done for free, no money down even.
And in these unstable economic times, it’s good to get what you can for free. Even if it is a catastrophe.