Israel’s Alleged War On Palestinian School Curriculum: Accusations Surface

Palestinian activists and politicians have accused Israeli authorities of waging war on Palestinian education in East Jerusalem.

They condemned what they called the “Israelization” of the school curriculum taught by Palestinians after the Israeli Knesset approved two bills aimed at strengthening supervision of Palestinian community schools in East Jerusalem and Israel. interior of Israel, where 1.7 million Palestinians live.

Palestinians note that the Israeli intelligence services (Shin Bet) are becoming increasingly involved in monitoring the activities of Palestinian teachers and facilitating their dismissal under the pretext that they are associated with activities against the Israeli occupation, its practices repression and its policy of apartheid.
Ahmed Ghunaim, a prominent leader of the Fatah movement in East Jerusalem, tells Arab News that Israel is trying to erase Palestinian identity, history and culture from school curricula. He adds that Israel is now going after the teachers themselves.

The Israeli occupation, he told Arab News, is aware of the importance of Palestinian identity and the efforts to keep it alive from generation to generation. It therefore strives to weaken this identity which unites the Palestinians of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Diaspora.

Forcing the Palestinians to accept Judaization

“Israel wants to force the Palestinians to accept Judaization and the Israelization of knowledge and education, and that will not succeed,” he says.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the adoption of the new laws by the Israeli Knesset.

He criticized Israel for stepping up its restrictive measures against teachers and students, pointing to measures aimed at granting licenses to schools teaching an Israeli curriculum and making it easier to prosecute any student, teacher or education administrator suspected of breaking the law.

In a statement released Thursday, the ministry said it was seriously considering the consequences of these racist laws, which would legitimize the persecution of Palestinians.

“The attempt to control the conscience of generations and push them to accept the procedures and measures of the occupation is clear,” the ministry said, adding that these measures constitute “a flagrant violation of international law”.
The ministry calls on international organizations concerned with human rights to speak out and intervene urgently to prevent the enactment of these laws.

“Security background”

According to the ministry, these laws violate the right of citizens, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to adhere to their identity and to exercise their freedom of thought and expression through peaceful and educational means.

The bill stipulating stricter criteria for granting a teaching license, introduced by MK Amit Halevy of the Likud party, was supported by forty-five Knesset members and rejected by twenty-five.

The bill – billed as an amendment to the School Supervision Law – aims to require the Education Ministry to check the “security background” of any Palestinian applicant for a teaching position.
In addition, the grant of a teaching license requires the applicant to have “no security background or connection to any terrorist act.”

The bill requires the Director General of the Ministry of Education to revoke the approval of the appointment of a teacher “convicted of terrorism” and suspend the teaching license of teachers against whom “criminal proceedings have been initiated for suspicion of carrying out a terrorist act”.

The bill acknowledges that it targets East Jerusalem.

It also asserts that “the fertile ground for the reckless incitement taking place in the schools where the Palestinian curriculum is taught in East Jerusalem constitutes a delegitimization and demonization of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and a glorification of the terrorists and terrorist operations”.

Freeze the budgets of schools teaching the Palestinian curriculum

Similar reasons were given in another bill aimed at blocking the budgets of schools teaching the Palestinian curriculum.
The other bill, introduced by Zvi Vogel, a member of the Knesset and the racist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Force) party, led by Itamar Ben-Gvir, provides for the formation of a committee authorizing the dismissal of teachers for “supporting terrorism or membership in a terrorist organization,” which could target individuals or organizations participating in peaceful protests against Israel and its practices.

This bill stipulates that the committee will consist of five members appointed by the Minister of Education, including representatives of the education system, the police, the Shin Bet and the local government.

The bill also grants the committee the power to refuse to appoint or continue to employ a teacher after an interrogation session because he or she “expressed support for the armed struggle of an enemy country or a terrorist organization, or a terrorist act or membership in a terrorist organization”.

Mr. Ben-Gvir introduced a similar bill during the last Knesset session.
During the current Knesset session, Sheeran Haskel, a slate member of the National Camp party led by Benny Gantz, also introduced a similar bill.

This is a bill that targets dozens of Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem, serving tens of thousands of students.
This law would allow the Shin Bet to interfere in the affairs of thousands of Palestinian teachers, whether in East Jerusalem or in schools where Palestinian teachers work in Israel.

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Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.