Should Darwish's poetry be taught in schools?

"Arabs learn Bialik, so why shouldn't we learn their national poet?"

Mahmoud Darwish 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Mahmoud Darwish 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The death of Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinians' national poet, sparked debate between the Right and the Left Sunday as to the merits of teaching his work in the Israeli education system. MK and former Education Ministry director-general Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) told The Jerusalem Post he adamantly opposed teaching Darwish to Israeli pupils. "Mahmoud Darwish is a national poet who incited against Judaism and Zionism. I am afraid [teaching his poetry] would arouse sentiments against Zionism, Judaism and the country," said Orlev, also the former chair of the Knesset Education Committee. "We must not be bleeding hearts. There are red lines that must never be crossed and he crossed the line." Yossi Sarid, former Meretz MK and education minister, contradicted Orlev's sentiment. "He is an important poet and we teach according to the quality of work," he argued. "Arab students learn [Haim Nahman] Bialik, our national poet, so why shouldn't we learn their national poet?" The Education Ministry said the professional committee for teaching literature decided in the late 1990s to add one of Darwish's poems, "And We Will Love," to an optional section for five units of the literature matriculation course. The poem appears in a chapter about voices and identities. The ministry added that the supervisor for literature said there were no changes planned in the near future to the literature curriculum.