INCREDIBLE! In Palestinian schoolbooks, there is no trace of the Green Line! They do not recognize the existence of
These blood-curdling revelations were published this week in
What a shock!
Truth is, there is nothing new here. Every few years, when all the other arguments for refusing to speak with the Palestinian leadership wear thin, the ultimate argument pops up again: Palestinian schoolbooks call for the destruction of
The ammunition is always provided by one of the "professional" institutions that deal with this matter. These are foundations of the far-right, disguised as "scientific" bodies, which are lavishly funded by Jewish-American multi-millionaires. Teams of salaried employees apply a fine-tooth comb to every word of the Arab media and schoolbooks, with a pre-ordained objective: to prove that they are anti-Semitic, preach hatred of
So now it is again perfectly clear: Palestinian schoolbooks preach hatred of
WELL, WHAT about our side? What do our schoolbooks look like?
Does the Green Line appear in them? Do they recognize the right of the Palestinians to establish a state on the other side of our 1967 borders? Do they teach love for the Palestinian people (or even the existence of the Palestinian people), or respect for the Arabs in general, or a knowledge of Islam?
The answer to all these questions: Absolutely not!
Recently, Minister of Education Yuli Tamir came out with a bombastic announcement saying that she intends to mark the Green Line in the schoolbooks, from which it was removed almost 40 years ago. The Right reacted angrily, and nothing more was heard about it.
From kindergarten to the last day of high school, the Israeli pupil does not learn that the Arabs have any right at all to any of this land. On the contrary, it is clear that the land belongs to us alone, that God has personally given it to us, that we were indeed driven out by the Romans after the destruction of our Temple in the year 70 (a myth) but that we returned at the beginning of the Zionist movement. Since then, the Arabs have tried again and again to annihilate us, as the Goyim have done in every generation. In 1936, the "gangs" (the official Israeli term for the fighters of the Arab Revolt) attacked and murdered us. And so on, up to this very day.
When he comes out of the pedagogic mill, the Jewish-Israeli pupil "knows" that the Arabs are a primitive people with a murderous religion and a miserable culture. He brings this view with him when he (or she) joins the army a few weeks later. There, it is reinforced almost automatically. The daily humiliation of old people and women - not to mention everybody else - at the checkpoints would not be possible otherwise.
THE QUESTION is, of course, whether schoolbooks really have that much influence on the pupils.
From earliest childhood, children absorb the atmosphere of their surroundings. The conversations at home, the sights on television, the happenings in the street, the opinions of classmates at school - all these influence them far more than the written texts of the books, which in any case are interpreted by teachers who themselves have been subject to these influences.
An Arab child sees on TV an old woman lamenting the demolition of her home. He sees on the walls in the street the photos of the martyred heroes, sons of his neighborhood, who have sacrificed their lives for their people and country. He hears what has happened to his cousin who was murdered by the evil Jews. He hears from his father that he cannot buy meat or eggs, because the Jews are not allowing him to work and put food on the table. At home there is no water for most of the day. Mother tells about grandpa and grandma, who have been languishing for 60 years in a miserable refugee camp in
We once went to a Palestinian village in order to help the inhabitants rebuild a house that had been demolished the day before by the army. While the adults were working on finishing the roof, the local children gathered around Rachel, my wife, showing a keen interest in her camera. The conversation that sprung up went like this: Where are you from? From
What can schoolbooks change here?
And on the Jewish Israeli side? From the earliest age, the child sees the pictures of suicide attacks on TV, bodies scattered around, the injured being taken away in ambulances with blood-curdling shrieks from their sirens. He hears that the Nazis slaughtered his mother's entire family in
For a change in the schoolbooks to have any value, reality on the ground must change first.
DOES THAT mean that schoolbooks have no importance? It should not be underestimated.
I remember giving a lecture in one of the kibbutzim in the late 60s. After I explained the need for the establishment of a Palestinian state next to
I answered that from
Forty years have passed, and the name "
A map is a weapon. From my childhood in
(By the way, some fifty years later I was taken on a courtesy visit to that school. I asked the principal about that map. Within minutes, it was brought out from the archive.)
NO, I do not make light of maps. Especially not of maps in schools.
I repeat what I said then: the aim must be that the child in Ramallah sees before his eyes, on the wall of his classroom, a map on which the State of Israel is marked. And that the child in Rishon-le-Zion sees before his eyes, on the wall of his classroom, a map on which the State of Palestine is marked. Not by compulsion, but by agreement.
That is, of course, impossible as long as
And on the other hand, how can one mark on the map the name "
Peace means a border. A border fixed by agreement. Without a border, there can be no peace. And without peace, it is the height of chutzpa to demand something from the other side that we totally refuse to do ourselves.