Lebanon debates Israel's definition as 'the enemy' in school curriculum

In discussions over the Lebanese school curriculum, a number of teachers opposed the inclusion of the phrase "animosity toward the oppressing Zionist entity."

April 7, 2016 11:15
1 minute read.
Syrian refugee children attend a lesson in their classroom, Lebanon

Syrian refugee children attend a lesson in their classroom, Lebanon. (photo credit: REUTERS)

An unprecedented debate is taking place in Lebanon over Israel’s definition in the country’s school curriculum. While Lebanon and the Jewish state are technically enemies at war, some teachers are now asking to rewrite this definition, the Beirut daily Al-Akhbar reported Thursday.

Lebanon’s Ministry of Education announced recently that it is reviewing the curriculum taught in the country’s schools for the last 19 years.

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According to the report, the Center for Educational Research and Development, a national organization operating within the Ministry of Education, held discussions about the goals of the Lebanese curriculum last week. Some members of the committee for Arabic language studies expressed their opposition to the inclusion of the phrase “animosity toward the oppressing Zionist entity” within the curriculum’s general goals.

The teachers said they “do not want to involve politics in the education system that should be neutral and not subject to political perceptions.

We do not want to educate our children to hate, even if the enemy occupies our land, violates our sovereignty and overlooks our border.”

Arguing that Israel is but one enemy on a list that includes the Assad regime in Syria, ISIS and Palestinian terrorists, the educators asked, “Why do we focus on Israel when Lebanon has more than one enemy?” Nassim Huri, a professor of political science at the school, said: “If we use ambiguous words to describe the enemy we would lose our indigenous identity as a state. The Lebanese curriculum must not only mention the animosity toward Israel, but also educate for resistance to the Zionist enemy.”

Widah Naser, a professor of philosophy at the American University in Beirut, argued that Lebanese students should not be educated to harbor animosity.

“We should not only discuss the Zionists, we have a long list of priorities that includes the struggle against the religious extremism that threatens Arab states,” he said.

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