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Textbooks on Arab view on Israel's birth

July 24: A new third grade textbook for Israeli Arab students acknowledges that Israel's creation was a tragedy for Palestinians, Israeli officials said yesterday.

The books issued by Israel's Education Ministry for the upcoming school year describe the events of 1948 and 1949, when Israel's creation drew fierce fighting and saw the displacement of some 700,000 Palestinians.

The new textbooks give the Jewish narrative of the war, pointing out the Jews' historical connection to the Holy Land and their need for a state because of persecution in Europe, said Dalia Fenig, an Education Ministry inspector. But they also offer the Arab version of the war for the first time explaining why its results were tragic for Palestinians and referring to the Arab defeat as "al-Naqba," Arabic for catastrophe.

"The new approach says, why should you hide anything? That won't make it disappear," Fenig said. She said the education ministry had no plans to introduce the Arab narrative into textbooks for Jewish students. Some hardline Israelis vowed to fight the decision, insisting it made Israel look as if it was apologising for its existence. Official Israeli histories of its birth, especially those for schoolchildren, have typically focused on the heroism of Israeli forces and glossed over the Palestinian flight, crediting the mass exile to voluntary escape, if mentioning it at all.

The Guardian
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Updated: 14 Oct, 2014
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