Gal-On: Kafr Kassem must be taught

Meretz MK asks Tamir to return massacre's lesson to the curriculum.

October 18, 2006 18:49
2 minute read.
Gal-On: Kafr Kassem must be taught

gal-on 298.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) requested that the subject of the 'Massacre of Kafr Kassem' be brought back into the national education curriculum early this week. In a letter written by Gal-On to Education Minister Yuli Tamir, the MK asked that she consider returning the historical event to Israeli textbooks. The subject of the Kafr Kassem massacre, during which 47 Israeli-Arabs were murdered by Border Police in October 1956, was taken off Israeli schools' civics curriculum by former education minister Limor Livnat in 2002. Fifty years after the incident, Gal-On proposed that Tamir mark the anniversary of the incident. Educating students about the event would enhance, "the value of equality in the education system," and ensure that, "this terrible story was not swept under the carpet," said Gal-On. The massacre, which took place on the eve of the Sinai Campaign, occurred when a group of Kafr Kassem residents returned to their village, unaware a curfew was in force. IDF border policemen opened fire on them, killing men, women and children. The policemen were subsequently convicted of murder, and their conviction was upheld by a military appeals court. Gal-On said that events such as these must be taught to students, who could be in danger of following in the footsteps of "those in uniform." "We must sharpen national-moral awareness… of this historical event by creating a warning sign for soldiers of potential criminal acts which they may find themselves committing… if they do not learn the moral boundaries before they are enlisted," she said, and added that, "a developed education ministry must endorse the condemnation of acts that are committed by blind obedience. "The story of Kafr Kassem… is first and foremost a criminal act that the state of Israel takes responsibility for, and whose repercussions still effect the relations between Arabs and Jews," added Gal-On. The issue of Kafr Kassem was raised in 1999 by former education minister Yossi Sarid, when he called upon school teachers to perpetuate the memory and lessons of the massacre, saying that "whoever looks in the educational and moral mirror, cannot ignore [the incident's] ugly stain." Whoever is sure of oneself and one's actions will not hesitate to expose one's faults," Sarid wrote in a letter to the nation's civics teachers. "We won't ignore [the massacre] and we won't try to cover up the shame, but instead we shall cope with it openly and honestly." Sarid wrote that the verdict in the case proved that the order to fire was "clearly" illegal, and that the educational system must ensure "pupils will understand what an illegal order is" when they serve in the IDF. "We owe it to the Arab citizens of Israel that we not only commemorate the massacre, but that we send a clear and unequivocal message," he added. The education ministry had yet to release an official response to Gal-on's request.

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