In Palestinian schoolbooks, there is no trace of the Green Line!
They do not recognize the existence of Israel even in the 1967
borders! They say that the "Zionist gangs" stole the country from
the Arabs! That's how they poison the minds of their children!
revelations were published this week in Israel and around the
world. The conclusion is self-evident: the Palestinian Authority,
which is responsible for the schoolbooks, cannot be a partner
in peace negotiations.
What a shock!
there is nothing new here. Every few years, when all the other
arguments for refusing to speak with the Palestinian leadership
wear thin, the ultimate argument pops up again: Palestinian schoolbooks
call for the destruction of Israel!
is always provided by one of the "professional" institutions that
deal with this matter. These are foundations of the far-right,
disguised as "scientific" bodies, which are lavishly funded by
Jewish-American multi-millionaires. Teams of salaried employees
apply a fine-tooth comb to every word of the Arab media and schoolbooks,
with a pre-ordained objective: to prove that they are anti-Semitic,
preach hatred of Israel and call for the killing of Jews. In the
sea of words, it is not too difficult to find suitable quotes,
while ignoring everything else.
So now it
is again perfectly clear: Palestinian schoolbooks preach hatred
of Israel! They are breeding a new generation of terrorists! Therefore,
of course, there can be no question of Israel and the world ending
the blockade on the Palestinian Authority!
* * * * *
about our side? What do our schoolbooks look like?
Green Line appear in them? Do they recognize the right of the
Palestinians to establish a state on the other side of our 1967
borders? Do they teach love for the Palestinian people (or even
the existence of the Palestinian people), or respect for the Arabs
in general, or a knowledge of Islam?
to all these questions: Absolutely not!
Minister of Education Yuli Tamir came out with a bombastic announcement
saying that she intends to mark the Green Line in the schoolbooks,
from which it was removed almost 40 years ago. The Right reacted
angrily, and nothing more was heard about it.
to the last day of high school, the Israeli pupil does not learn
that the Arabs have any right at all to any of this land. On the
contrary, it is clear that the land belongs to us alone, that
God has personally given it to us, that we were indeed driven
out by the Romans after the destruction of our Temple in the year
70 (a myth) but that we returned at the beginning of the Zionist
movement. Since then, the Arabs have tried again and again to
annihilate us, as the Goyim have done in every generation. In
1936, the "gangs" (the official Israeli term for the fighters
of the Arab Revolt) attacked and murdered us. And so on, up to
this very day.
When he comes
out of the pedagogic mill, the Jewish-Israeli pupil "knows" that
the Arabs are a primitive people with a murderous religion and
a miserable culture. He brings this view with him when he (or
she) joins the army a few weeks later. There, it is reinforced
almost automatically. The daily humiliation of old people and
women - not to mention everybody else - at the checkpoints would
not be possible otherwise.
* * *
is, of course, whether schoolbooks really have that much influence
on the pupils.
childhood, children absorb the atmosphere of their surroundings.
The conversations at home, the sights on television, the happenings
in the street, the opinions of classmates at school - all these
influence them far more than the written texts of the books, which
in any case are interpreted by teachers who themselves have been
subject to these influences.
An Arab child
sees on TV an old woman lamenting the demolition of her home.
He sees on the walls in the street the photos of the martyred
heroes, sons of his neighborhood, who have sacrificed their lives
for their people and country. He hears what has happened to his
cousin who was murdered by the evil Jews. He hears from his father
that he cannot buy meat or eggs, because the Jews are not allowing
him to work and put food on the table.
At home there is no water for most of the day. Mother tells about
grandpa and grandma, who have been languishing for 60 years in
a miserable refugee camp in Lebanon. He knows that his family
were driven out from their village in what became Israel and that
the Jews are living there now. The hero of his class is the boy
who jumped on a passing Israeli tank, or who dared to throw a
stone from a distance of 10 meters at a soldier who was pointing
a gun at him.
We once went
to a Palestinian village in order to help the inhabitants rebuild
a house that had been demolished the day before by the army. While
the adults were working on finishing the roof, the local children
gathered around Rachel, my wife, showing a keen interest in her
The conversation that sprung up went like this: Where are you
from? From America? No, from here. Are you messihiin (Christians)?
No, Israelis. Israelis? (General laughter.) Israelis
are like this: Boom Boom Boom! (They assume poses of shooting
soldiers.) No, really, where are you from? From Israel, we
are Jews. (They exchange looks.) Why do you come here?
To help in the work. (Whispers and laughter.) One of the boys
runs to his father: This woman says that they are Jews.
True, the embarrassed father confirmed, Jews, but
good Jews. The children draw back. They look unconvinced.
schoolbooks change here?
And on the
Jewish Israeli side? From the earliest age, the child sees the
pictures of suicide attacks on TV, bodies scattered around, the
injured being taken away in ambulances with blood-curdling shrieks
from their sirens. He hears that the Nazis slaughtered his mother's
entire family in Poland and, in his consciousness, Nazis and Arabs
On every day's news he hears bad things about what the Arabs are
doing, that they want to destroy the state and throw us into the
sea. He knows that the Arabs want to kill his brother, the soldier,
without any reason, just because they are such murderers. Nothing
about life in "the territories", perhaps just a few kilometers
away, reaches him. Until he is called up, the only Arabs he meets
are Israeli Arab workers doing menial work. When he joins the
army, he sees them only through gun sights, every one of them
of them a potential "terrorist".
For a change
in the schoolbooks to have any value, reality on the ground must
* * * * *
mean that schoolbooks have no importance? It should not be underestimated.
giving a lecture in one of the kibbutzim in the late '60s. After
I explained the need for the establishment of a Palestinian state
next to Israel (a fairly revolutionary idea at the time), one
of the kibbutzniks stood up and asked: "I don't understand it!
You want us to give back all the territories that we have conquered.
Territories are something real, land, water. What shall we get
in return? Abstract words like "peace"? What shall we get tachles
(Yiddish for practical things)?"
that from Morocco to Iraq, there are tens of thousands of classrooms,
and in every one of them hangs a map. On all these maps, the territory
of Israel is marked "occupied Palestine" or just left blank. All
that we need is that the name Israel should appear on these thousands
have passed, and the name "Israel" does not appear in Palestinian
schoolbooks, nor, I assume, on any school map from Morocco to
Iraq. And the name "Palestine" does not appear, of course, on
any Israeli school map. Only when the young Israeli joins the
army, does he see a map of "the territories", with its crazy puzzle
of Zones A, B and C, settlement blocs and apartheid roads.
A map is
a weapon. From my childhood in Germany between the two World Wars
I remember a map that was hanging on the wall of my classroom.
On it, Germany had two borders. One (green, if I remember correctly)
was the existing border, that was imposed by the treaty of Versailles
after the (first) World War. The other, marked in glowing red,
was the border from before the war. In thousands of classrooms
all over Germany (then governed by Social-Democrats) the pupils
saw every day before their eyes the terrible injustice done to
Germany, when pieces were "torn" from her on every side. Thus
was bred the generation which filled the ranks of the Nazi war
machine in World War II.
(By the way,
some fifty years later I was taken on a courtesy visit to that
school. I asked the principal about that map. Within minutes,
it was brought out from the archive.)
* * * * *
No, I do
not make light of maps. Especially not of maps in schools.
what I said then: the aim must be that the child in Ramallah sees
before his eyes, on the wall of his classroom, a map on which
the State of Israel is marked. And that the child in Rishon-le-Zion
sees before his eyes, on the wall of his classroom, a map on which
the State of Palestine is marked. Not by compulsion, but by agreement.
of course, impossible as long as Israel has no borders. How can
one mark on the map a state which, from its first day, has refused,
consciously and adamantly, to define its borders? Can we really
demand that the Palestinian ministry of education publish a map
on which all the territory of Palestine lies inside Israel?
And on the
other hand, how can one mark on the map the name "Palestine",
when there is no Palestinian state? After all, even most of those
Israeli politicians who profess - at least pro forma - to support
the "two-states solution" will go to great lengths to avoid saying
where the border between the two states should run. Tzipi Livni,
the Foreign Minister, is totally opposed to the announced intention
of her colleague, Minister of Education Yuli Tamir, to mark the
Green Line, lest it be seen as a border.
a border. A border fixed by agreement. Without a border, there
can be no peace. And without peace, it is the height of chutzpa
to demand something from the other side that we totally refuse
to do ourselves.
The above article is published by Gush
by Uri Avnery:
Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.
He is one of the writers featured in The Other Israel: Voices
of Dissent and Refusal. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's
hot new book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. Those who want
to help out Gush Shalom can email email@example.com
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