Israeli, Arab politicians in heated debate over teaching Nakba narrative to Israeli students

"Teaching Nakba is a fundamental mistake,” Sa’ar says.

March 29, 2015 14:02
1 minute read.
Ahmed Tibi

MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL - Ta'al) in the Knesset.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Former education minister Gideon Sa’ar and MK Ahmad Tibi exchanged words on social media late Saturday night over teaching the Nakba narrative to Israeli students.

“Nakba” is the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” and is used to describe the “tragedy” of Israel’s establishment from the Arab perspective.

“Shai Piron’s stance in favor of teaching Nakba is a fundamental mistake,” Sa’ar wrote on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. “A country cannot give legitimization to the view that its own establishment was a disaster.”

The former Likud MK then engaged on Twitter, responding to comments of support and criticism, including from MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List).

“There is always a fear of the dispossessor to recognize the suffering of the dispossessed,” Tibi wrote in response to Sa’ar’s tweet.

“67 years have passed and you still refuse to acknowledge Arab responsibility for the war and its outcome that comes from a refusal to accept a Jewish state,” Sa’ar wrote in response.

“500 villages destroyed, mass expulsion, killing, suffering and exile. When will Israeli students learn about that?” Tibi fired back.

Sa’ar responded: “Both sides suffered. One [side] won – the side that was attacked.

That is what Israeli students learn.”

Sa’ar’s original post intended to criticize comments made during a speech at the Seminar Hakibbutzim State Teachers College in Tel Aviv last week by his successor, former education minister Shai Piron (Yesh Atid), that schools should teach the Nakba Day narrative to all Israeli students.

As revealed in a recording obtained by Army Radio, Piron said he supported teaching the Nakba narrative alongside what he termed the “settlers’ narrative.”

“At the Bilingual School in Misgav I was asked what I thought of teaching the Nakba to Arab students in the education system,” Piron said.

“I answered that I am opposed. I am for teaching the Nakba [narrative] to all students in Israel. I don’t think that a student can enter into the Israeli education system, while 20 percent of students have an ethos, a certain story, and he does not know that story,” he said.

In 2009, Sa’ar, serving as education minister, instructed the ministry to remove the term “Nakba” from the Arab sector’s educational curriculum, a move that Piron, as education minister, did not undo during his term.

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