'Nakba' to stay out of school curriculum

Knesset panel votes against Yuli Tamir's approval of a textbook meant for use in Arabic schools.

Yuli Tamir 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Yuli Tamir 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Knesset Education Committee on Monday voted against Education Minister Yuli Tamir's proposal to include discussion of the "Nakba" (catastrophe), the Palestinian version of the events of 1948, in the school curriculum. The committee voted six to one against, with one abstention. "The Education Committee rejects presenting two perspectives in textbooks of the events of the War of Independence and the creation of the state and the reasons for the creation of the refugee problem," the committee said in a statement. "The inclusion in the curriculum that the Arabs view the creation of the state as a disaster is serious and leads to a process of alienation of the Arab community from the state and damages coexistence." In July, the mention of the Arab term nakba in an official third-grade Education Ministry textbook for Arab schoolchildren caused an uproar among Israeli politicians. In a discussion on the Jewish victory in Israel's 1948 War of Independence, the textbook, meant for Israeli Arab nine-year-olds, notes: 'The Arabs called the war 'nakba,' a war of disaster and loss, while the Jews call it 'the War of Independence.'' That line in the textbook, approved by the Education Ministry for distribution to Arab Israeli schools that ask for it, has garnered angry condemnation and at the time even raised calls for Tamir's dismissal from right-wing MKs. 'If the State of Israel gives legitimacy to the Arab sector to see the War of Independence as a nakba - for a period, they even called it a Holocaust - it tells them they can deny that Israel is a legitimate Jewish state,' MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) said in July. 'If Israel arose on the disaster of the Palestinians, it can't be legitimate. But the Jewish right to Israel isn't dependent on the Holocaust. It's inherent and part of Jewish history, a legacy of our nakba 2,000 years ago.' Responding to the criticism, Tamir said it reflected 'a real fear to deal with the reality of a complex society, which has at least two narratives. There's a lot of tension, and the fact that we don't talk about it doesn't make the tension or the conflict go away.'