Palestinian history threatens nobody except the weak

The fact that this is a serious story simply suggests how threatening the Palestinian narrative remains for the Jewish state:

The Education Ministry will be reexamining a new Hebrew-language history textbook published by the Zalman Shazar Center that was approved for 11th- and 12th-grade classes. The textbook gives expression to the Palestinian perspective on the Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic), which is the Palestinians’ term for what happened to them in the War of Independence.

The textbook, “Nationalism: Building a State in the Middle East,” was published several weeks ago. It contains a passage stating “the Palestinians and the Arab states contended that most of the [Palestinian] refugees were civilians who were attacked and expelled from their homes by the armed Jewish forces, which instituted a policy of ethnic cleansing, contrary to the proclamations of peace in the Declaration of Independence.”

The subject of the Palestinian refugee problem has appeared in the school history curriculum for years. In the new textbook, the chapter dealing with the issue begins with a set of “facts” on which there is almost no dispute: Many Palestinians left the country during the War of Independence, whether because they believed “they would return as victors with the invading [Arab] armies” or because of “the fear of the Israeli forces,” and “many others were expelled from their places of residence.”

The refugee problem, the chapter says, “became the focus of a number of political and historiographic [relating to the writing of history] controversies” on the causes for the flow of refugees, estimated at several hundred thousand people.

The book presents the Palestinian and the Jewish-Israeli points of view side by side. Immediately following the Palestinian narrative, the Zionist narrative states that “for years, the State of Israel has contended it called upon the Palestinians to stay, and they fled their villages and towns during the war because they were abandoned by their leadership, because of Arab propaganda about atrocities and due to the instructions of the invading [Arab] armies.”

A Jerusalem-area history teacher said that students cannot be taught the way the textbook presents the material, as they are unable to distinguish between Arab propaganda and objective analysis, adding that the “claims” of the State of Israel cannot be presented as having equal value as those of Arab propagandists. Similarly, the teacher said, Nazi propaganda could not be presented side by side with the Jewish view of the Holocaust. Another teacher from the center of the country, said, however, that “a substantial part of the study of history involves the expression of as many points of view as possible.”

Israel is a profoundly insecure country.

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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