Education Ministry to revise curriculum to include history of Jews from Islamic countries

August 8, 2016 16:05

The decision aims to implement one of the recommendations of the Biton Committee, released in July.

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Bennett Bitton

Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Israel Prize laureate Erez Biton. . (photo credit: Courtesy)

Middle- and high-school history curriculums will be required to include the study of Jews in Islamic countries beginning in the upcoming school year, the Education Ministry announced on Monday.

The decision aims to implement one of the recommendations of the Biton Committee, released in July, which was tasked with enhancing Eastern Jewish cultural studies within the general education curriculum.

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Education Minister Naftali Bennett launched the committee some five months ago and appointed as its head Erez Biton, the first poet of Mizrahi descent to win the Israel Prize in Literature in 2015.

Biton was tasked with empowering the identity of the Mizrahi Jewish community – including immigrants from Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia and Libya – within the education system.

“History is repeating itself, in every sense of the word,” Bennett said on Monday. “In history class we not only learn about the past but also how to shape the future. Sixty-eight years ago we were telling half the story. Sixty-eight years ago that half of the nation was missing from the pages of history.”

“The revision of the history curriculum is great news to the people of Israel as a whole,” he said. “The Jews of Spain and the East have a magnificent history and form a significant part in the Zionist enterprise.”

The subjects to be covered in the revised curriculum include the scattering of Jews throughout the Diaspora after the expulsion from Spain in 1492, the activities of Alliance Israelite Universelle in aiding Jews from Islamic countries in education, pogroms against the Jewish community in North Africa and Asia, the establishment of the Bukharan Quarter in Jerusalem and the Black Panthers.

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