Arab schools forced to follow Israeli curriculum

April 12, 2011

RAMALLAH (Gulf News) -- Arab schools of Occupied East Jerusalem will be forced from the next academic year to follow a new Israeli curriculum that is similar to the one followed in Arab schools in the 1948 areas, after Israeli authorities passed a decision to this effect.

An Israeli special committee has come up with the new curriculum to be followed in all Arab schools of Occupied East Jerusalem, even though these schools should ideally be united with other Palestinian schools in the syllabi that they follow.
Palestinians, both individuals and institutions, have condemned the decision as yet another example of Israel's attempt to obliterate the Palestinian identity and right to statehood.
The decision drew a warning from the Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights on Monday that Arab residents of Occupied East Jerusalem would confront the Israeli authorities should an Israeli curriculum be imposed on Arab residents in the next academic year.
Zeyad Al Hamouri, who heads the centre, predicted a serious confrontation between the Israeli authorities and the Arab residents of Occupied East Jerusalem, similar to the 1967 confrontation when Israel annexed East Jerusalem and tried to force an Israeli curriculum on the Arab residents.
The strong Palestinian resistance to the proposal had forced the Israelis to retreat and the Jordanian curriculum had been adopted for all Arab schools of the holy city.
Al Hamouri called for a Palestinian national educational strategy to support the educational sector in Occupied East Jerusalem, where 10,000 Palestinian students remain without a specific educational framework. He said immediate plans should be drawn up to face the threat of Isreal's Judaizing of the educational sector in Occupied East Jerusalem.
Al Hamouri also said the Israeli authorities, especially the Jerusalem Municipality, should first address the dearth of infrastructural facilities in the educational sector of Occupied East Jerusalem and meet the serious shortage of classrooms for Arab residents before they addresses any issue of curricula.
He said Arab residents pay millions of Israeli shekels in various types of taxes but the Jerusalem Municipality spends less than five per cent of those taxes on infrastructural projects in the holy city.
The Israeli authorities had officially decided to impose the Israeli curriculum in Arab schools of Occupied East Jerusalem in the year 1997 on political grounds, and had strictly banned the Palestinian Authority from getting involved in the educational process in the holy city.
An Israeli ministerial committee specialized in Jerusalem Affairs had banned the Jordanian educational programs in the city and decided to replace it with Israeli programs. Jordan ruled East Jerusalem from the year 1948 until its Israeli annexation in the 1967 six-day war. However, the Jordanian curriculum has remained the official one in Occupied East Jerusalem ever since.
The Israeli committee's decision to ban the Jordanian curriculum was aimed at ensuring that the Palestinian Authority did not get involved in any way in the educational process of Arab schools in Occupied East Jerusalem and in the organization of the sector.
The committee had said in its recommendations that the maps in the texts of the Jordanian curriculum did not mention the state of Israel, thus implying that Israeli was an illegitimate entity.
The Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights warned that the timing chosen by the Israelis to impose a new Israeli curriculum on the Arab schools in Occupied East Jerusalem was justification of their attempt at Judaization of all aspects of the lives of Occupied East Jerusalem's Arab residents.
Israel eventually aims at destroying the Palestinian identity and damaging the public and self awareness of the coming Palestinian generations, it said.