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Tag: Education Minister

Arabs Threaten Civil Disobedience to Preserve Nakba Studies

This was to be expected. We sort of predicted this a month ago when Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar decided to take Nakba studies out of the national curriculum. “Nakba” studies are, essentially, a curriculum that identifies the creation of the State of Israel as an international “catastrophe.” We intimated that this approach wouldn’t really accomplish much except maybe save money on curriculum, and now that prediction is bearing fruit, or rather bearing nothing, as not accomplishing anything tends to bear.

Gideon SaarWhat’s happening now is that Arab educators are “expressing outrage” at Sa’ar’s intention to remove the phrase Nakba from textbooks in the Arab education system, and threatening civil disobedience if the ministry follows through on its decision.

The Arabs, of course, have every right to do this, and it should be expected, because there is a much more serious problem swelling up from the ground in Israel than declarations from the Education Ministry are equipped to handle.
“A prohibition to commemorate the Nakba of the Arab people in schools, the changing of road signs, forcing the singing of the ‘Tikva’ national anthem at schools and setting the promotion of military service or national service as a criterion for rewarding schools and staff,” said Atef Moaddi, representative of the Arab Education Committee, “and we stress that if an attempt is made to carry them out in Arab schools – the response will be refusal and civil disobedience.”

Explaining his decision, Sa’ar said that “What Israeli Arabs experienced during the [1948 War of Independence] was certainly a tragedy, but the word Nakba, whose meaning is similar to ‘Holocaust’ in this context, will no longer be used. The creation of the State of Israel cannot be referred to as a tragedy, and the education system in the Arab sector will revise its studies [regarding this] in elementary schools.”

The real problem is that there are two distinct nations in this country. “Israeli” is a meaningless term because it doesn’t distinguish them, and is simply a game of nomenclature used to cover up a problem with what seems to be a transparent sheet. There are Jews in this country, and there are Arabs in this country. Both are fighting for hegemony. Declaring what Arabs can and can’t learn in state schools will accomplish nothing but delegitimize the tactic.

Then what to do? Redefining the purpose of the State of Israel seems in order. And it seems inevitable. We all feel the clock ticking. The question is, what happens when it begins to beep?
I don’t know, but we’ll certain report it when it does.

Nakba taken out of curriculum – does it matter?

PoliticiansWhich 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.

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