Azmi Bishara, Al-Ahram Weekly, 25-31 October:
If you want to understand the magnitude of the Palestinian tragedy and the depths of their dilemma take a look at the recent decree issued by the Israeli Ministry of Education which in essence asks Jewish and Arab schoolchildren to sign the Israeli declaration of independence as part of the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel.
In a statement distributed to the schools the ministry’s Society and Youth Administration set the following objectives for the jubilee: “To commemorate the passage of 60 years since the establishing of the state of Israel in the Arab and Jewish educational system; to strengthen the sense of belonging to, pride in and love for the 60-year-old state among all who attend educational institutes; to help all Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze and other youth to form a clear vision of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; to inspire a sense of responsibility and social commitment among the young and to encourage them to become active participants in the affairs of society.”
A quick glance at this text is sufficient to realise that there are no Palestinian Arabs in Israel; they are to be Israelis first, and “Muslims, Christians, Druze and others” second. The Arab student, according to this inspirational educational aim, is to love Israel, be Israeli and feel proud — no more, no less. How commendable such a memorandum would be if distributed (with the appropriate nationality change) to fledgling citizens in Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere. In Israel, though, it would be hard to come up with a more grotesque document.