Parallel universes for Jews and Arabs

Recently Israel’s education ministry decided that the description of the founding of the Jewish state as a nakba — catastrophe — would be removed from textbooks in state-funded Arab schools.

“In the past five months since its formation, the government, along with the Education Ministry, has announced a number of dangerous decisions,” the head of the Follow-up Committee on Arab Education in Israel said at a press conference. “Such as a prohibition to commemorate the Nakba of the Arab people in schools, the changing of road signs, forcing the singing of the ‘Tikva’ national anthem at schools and setting the promotion of military service or national service as a criterion for rewarding schools and staff.”

“We reject these decisions outright,” Atef Moaddi said. “And we stress that if an attempt is made to carry them out in Arab schools – the response will be refusal and civil disobedience…”

Moaddi told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that [Education Minister Gideon] Sa’ar’s decision was nothing less than a “political gimmick” aimed at denying the Israeli Arab community their identity.

“For Israeli Arabs, who consider themselves a part of the Palestinian people, the Nakba is not up for debate, it is a historical fact,” Moaddi said. “But if Sa’ar thinks that by taking this narrative out of the textbooks, he will somehow absolve himself – as both a representative of the State of Israel and as a human being – of responsibility for the Nakba, he is wrong…”

He also talked about discrimination against Arabs, more resources going to the Jewish school systems, etc. But those are fixable problems.

It is not fixable when one out of every five citizens of a state considers him or herself the citizen of a different nation, one co-extensive in space and time with the other, two parallel universes in which history is fundamentally different. Especially when the difference is that one group believes that everything the other has really belongs to them.

“Our position has always been that both narratives – the Jewish, Zionist narrative and the Arab, Palestinian narrative – should be taught in both Jewish and Arab classrooms,” he continued.

This is literally insane. Both narratives should be taught? Teach that the world is round and that it’s cubical? Teach that the Jews reestablished their nation in the land where — despite the fact that there was room for all — the Arabs tried again and again to kill them, and at the same time teach that the Jews dispossessed the Arabs and expelled them?

“But the Arab pupil is not stupid. He or she will learn about the Nakba from a variety of other sources, be it on the Internet or on the street. But our position is that we prefer for them to learn about it in the educational framework of the classroom.”

For example, they can learn their ‘narrative’ in the Baladna (Our Land) youth group, funded by money from Europe and the New Israel Fund.

The ‘narratives’ are incompatible and they make the people who believe them incompatible. Which, of course, is precisely why the Europeans and the New Israel Fund support the anti-Zionist narrative.

A novel idea would be that there is only one truth, and both Jews and Arabs should learn it.

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One Response to “Parallel universes for Jews and Arabs”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    The Arab minority in Israel does not accept its minority status.
    Gideon Saar’s effort at educating them to accept the Israeli Zionist narrative will simply not succeed.
    So what is the answer?
    One answer is to live with the situation and allow the Arabs a kind of cultural autonomy. This would of course be accompanied by a very careful supervision of security breaches, and sedition.
    But a more sensible answer is, if there is some kind of two- state solution, enabling the Arab minority in Israel to be part of the demilitarized Arab state which would come into being in the part of Israel.
    There are of course great problems with this answer also.
    But it seems to me that Israel for its own survival’s sake should be working in the direction of reducing the numbers of those who simply do not feel they belong to the State.